[ABCNEWS] A little over three months after the Biden administration lifted most economic sanctions on Venezuela, they are reimposing some of them — warning the regime of Nicolas Maduro that if he does not lift a ban on opposition candidates, they will reimpose the rest.
A National Security Council spokesperson confirmed Monday night that the Treasury Department has ended a waiver that authorized transactions with Venezuela’s state-owned gold mining company, effective two weeks from now. They warn that the waiver for Venezuela’s oil and gas sectors — the strongest U.S. penalties — will end in April “unless the Maduro [government] and his representatives in Venezuela are able to get back on track with allowing all presidential candidates to run.”
“We have made clear that all who want to run for President should be allowed the opportunity, and are entitled to a level electoral playing field, to freedom of movement, and to assurances for their physical safety. It is up to Maduro and his representatives to correct course,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Last week, Venezuela’s top court upheld a ban on Maria Corina Machado, the conservative opposition figure who is supposed to face off against Maduro in presidential elections later this year. That’s a clear violation of the agreement reached in October between the Maduro government and the opposition — a deal the U.S. backed by granting Maduro sanctions relief, until Monday’s reimposition.
But Maduro’s team had been violating parts of that deal for months now, and the pressure had been growing on President Joe Biden to do something in response — with even a group of Democratic Senators writing a letter to the administration Monday calling for sanctions to be reimposed.
Critics, especially Republican lawmakers, have claimed the Biden administration — desperate for Maduro’s cooperation on migration or energy — had not done enough to impose costs on the Venezuelan leader for flagrantly violating the October deal.