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Pressure on Maduro without triggering Venezuelan migration, Joe Biden’s dilemma

Pressure on Maduro without triggering Venezuelan migration, Joe Biden’s dilemma

The countdown to the expiration of US sanctions relief on Venezuela is underway and that puts the president Joe Biden in a dilemma: press Nicolas Maduro due to the lack of guarantees in the next elections without provoking a crisis that encourages migration Venezuelan.

Last October, Washington lifted several sanctions on Venezuelan oil and gas for six months as an incentive for Maduro to comply with the Barbados Agreements between Chavismo and the opposition to hold democratic elections.

The condition that the United States set for not reimposing the sanctions was that all opposition candidates could attend, but with the relief about to expire this Thursday, the main opposition candidate, María Corina Machado, remains disqualified for the July 28 elections. .

The electoral authorities also did not allow his replacement, Corina Yoris, to be registered, and the opposition Unitary Platform had to present Edmundo González Urrutia on an interim basis, which has even generated criticism from Maduro allies such as Colombia and Brazil.

Unfulfilled commitments

Of course, Washington’s strategy has not borne the best results and all eyes are now on the decisions that Biden may make.

In a recent interview with EFE, the head of the State Department for Latin America, Brian Nichols, acknowledged that “there is not much hope for free elections in Venezuela,” although he noted that “there is still time to change path.”

According to The Washington Post, the Democratic Administration is analyzing how to respond to Maduro’s failures without worsening the Venezuelan migratory exodus or causing an increase in gasoline prices in the United States.

The strongest proposal on the table would be to allow Venezuela to continue selling crude oil to international customers, but using the bolivar instead of the dollar, according to the newspaper.

Since the relief of sanctions, Caracas has expanded agreements with foreign companies and oil production increased in the country by 18% in the first quarter of the year.

Renata Segura, director of the Latin America program at the International Crisis Group think tank, maintains that the implementation of the Barbados Agreement has been “very poor” and predicts that Biden will “partially” reverse the sanctions relief without returning to the previous situation.

“It is evident that it is not in the interest of the United States for the Venezuelan economic situation to continue deteriorating due to the impact that this generates in terms of migration,” he said.

The impact on migration

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have migrated to US territory in recent years and the issue has become a cause of concern for Biden’s re-election campaign given that his rival, former Republican President Donald Trump, continually uses it as a weapon against the Democratic Administration.

According to the view of the White House, the strategy adopted by the previous Trump Government (2017-2021) of putting maximum pressure on Venezuela with sanctions to overthrow Maduro has only served to strangle the country’s economy and cause a migratory exodus.

Asked by EFE, Elliott Abrams, in charge of policy towards Venezuela under Trump, responded that when the sanctions began in 2019, the Venezuelan economy had already been deteriorating for years and five million people had left the country.

The politician added that the increase in crude oil production in Venezuela is not large enough to have an impact on the price of gasoline in the United States.

“This is a complete failure of the Biden Administration and the logical thing would be to reimpose the sanctions,” argued Abrams, who considers the Barbados Accords “dead.”

Last Tuesday, representatives of Biden and Maduro met in Mexico to address the issue of sanctions a few days before the deadline.

José Enrique Arrioja, of the business organization Council of the Americas, doubts that Biden is going to reimpose sanctions because “there is too much at stake” and a decision of this type could end up dynamiting the incipient dialogue between Chavismo and the opposition.

“History has taught us that every democratic transition needs negotiation”he told EFE.

On the horizon is not only a key electoral event, that of July 28 in Venezuela, but also the November 5 elections in the United States, with the unforeseeable consequences of a possible return of Trump to the White House.

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Source: Gestion

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