Washington, D.C.- US Secretary of State Andrew Blinken stated the US is considering reimposing sanctions on Venezuela during a Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing.
Secretary Blinken’s statements were made after being asked by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) on the issue.
Senator Rubio asked Blinken if, given Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s latest attempt at preventing free and fair elections, the US would reimpose recently lifted economic sanctions.
President Joe Biden’s administration had struck a tripartite deal with President Maduro and the opposition Unitary party platform to lift some economic sanctions.
As reported by The Floridian, the deal includes the US granting a six-month general license temporarily authorizing Venezuelan energy sector transactions in exchange for fair elections.
The deal would also include a second general license authorizing operations of state-owned Minerven, a previously sanctioned gold mining company forced to operate on the black market.
However, the agreement could be jeopardized by the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s invalidation of opposition party primaries-won overwhelmingly by Maria Corina Machado-earlier this week.
Machado had been previously ‘invalidated’ from running by the Supreme Court in a highly criticized ruling. Notwithstanding widespread protests at the Supreme Court’s nullification of Machado’s victory, the US-Maduro energy deal did not require the Venezuelan government recognize Machado’s candidacy’s legitimacy.
As such, questions remain over whether the US will consider Venezuela to have violated the deal and consequently reimpose sanctions.
Venezuela “canceled the opposition’s primary election and they continue to ban the winner of the primary. They basically wiped out the election. They’ve broken the deal. Are we going to reimpose sanctions?” asked Senator Rubio.
Blinken did not reply affirmatively but stated the US will continue monitoring the situation.
Blinken assured, however, that Venezuela will not be “getting a free pass for actions they take that are in contradiction to the commitments that they’ve made to move toward free and fair elections, which is a shared objective that we have with the opposition, the Unitary Platform.”