White House Ambivalent on Venezuelan Sanctions on Eve of Major Decision

White House Ambivalent on Venezuelan Sanctions on Eve of Major Decision

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
April 17, 2024

The White House has refused to reveal whether lifted oil sanctions for Venezuela will be renewed as the deadline to make such a decision nears. 

President Joe Biden is reportedly expected to not reinstate oil sanctions imposed on Venezuela during President Donald Trump’s term. 

Biden lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gold sectors in exchange for assurances the country would be committed to holding fair elections.

However, the White House’s latest comments have struck a more aggressive tone, signaling Biden could be considering renewing sanctions after months of pushback to his Venezuelan policy from sundry legislators.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller claimed Biden was committed to renewing sanctions if Venezuela’s government did not uphold their promises of hosting free and fair elections. 

While claiming the Venezuelan government “has upheld certain aspects of the Barbados Agreement,” Miller stated they also flouted other parts of it and underscored that “if Maduro and his representatives did not fully implement their agreements under the Barbados Agreement, we would reimpose sanctions.” 

The Barbados Agreement was a deal brokered by the US between Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro and Venezuelan opposition representatives where Maduro pledged to permit democratic elections if oil sanctions were lifted. 

Maduro subsequently jailed opposition figures and barred them from running for office, effectively flouting the agreement. 

In response, Biden reimposed some sanctions and announced he would consider not renewing the oil and gas sanctions relief provided, which expires on April 18.

The economic consequences of sanctions, given Biden’s oil policies, could also be influencing Biden’s decision over renewing them given their potential political implications.

 Renewing sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports would raise domestic gasoline prices given OPEC production cuts have increased American reliance on alternative sources, such as Venezuela. 

Consequently, US officials are reportedly concerned that limiting access to Venezuelan oil would raise gas prices during an election year, severely undermining President Biden’s reelection prospects. 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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