Biden administration reinstates sanctions on Venezuelan oil

The Biden administration is reimposing sanctions on Venezuelan oil, it announced Wednesday.

Officials said Venezuela has not progressed enough toward free and fair elections, and as a result, the administration is reimposing the sanctions that were lifted in October.

Companies will have 45 days to wind down their transactions with the nation’s oil and gas sector.

The sanctions were lifted in October after Venezuela agreed to certain election reforms. Officials said although there have been some positive developments, the country has not gone far enough.

Specifically, they knocked Nicolás Maduro’s government for blocking the leading opposition candidate María Corina Machado and her designated substitute Corina Yoris.

In 2019, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company as part of an attempt to pressure Maduro to give up power.

Maduro was last reelected in 2018 in a contest that the U.S. described as a sham.

Amid U.S. actions to ease sanctions under the Biden administration, including the October decision, Venezuela’s oil exports grew. Last year, they were up 12 percent, Reuters reported.

U.S. officials said although the imposition of sanctions will no longer allow companies to generally operate in Venezuela, the Treasury Department will continue to consider licenses allowing specific companies to operate there on a case-by-case basis.

The sanctions reimposed on Wednesday are separate from a 2022 authorization that enabled Chevron to resume some operations in Venezuela — the 2022 authorization is not expected to be impacted.

Venezuela’s elections are slated to take place in July.

Republicans, many of whom opposed the decisions to lift sanctions last year, have called on Biden to reinstate them.

“History has proven time and time again that appeasing dictators does not work. We strongly urge you to reinstate and fully enforce all U.S. sanctions on the Maduro regime,” said seven Republican senators in a letter to Biden last week.

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