On March 28, the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced that an international conference on Venezuela would be held in Colombia with the aim of bringing Venezuela’s government back into discussions with the political opposition.
After the announcement, some important political and diplomatic factors emerged:
1. A bilateral meeting between Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro and Colombian President Gustavo Petro took place after the recent meetings between the United States and Colombia.
2. US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said that the Biden administration intends to participate in the meeting.
3. The Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva stated before the UN Security Council that the event was scheduled for April 25 in Bogotá.
4. Following a preparatory meeting between President Maduro and Foreign Minister Leyva, it was reported that the Venezuelan president will not attend the conference.
5. President Petro issued a statement to journalists, in the context of his official visit to the United States, regarding the central objective of the conference: “Let there be no ‘sanctions.’ Let there be much more democracy. More democracy, zero sanctions, is the objective of this conference.”
The conference in question aims to lift US sanctions and has been presented as a space for dialogue in order to overcome the state of inertia and stagnation in which the National Dialogue Table finds itself in Mexico as a result of Washington’s refusal to comply with last year’s agreements.
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In November 2022, after resuming the negotiation process in Mexico, the parties signed an agreement that provides for the creation of the Fund for the Social Protection of the Venezuelan People, through which more than $3 billion seized or frozen by the opposition, the US, and its vassal states, would be channeled to carry out social projects of importance to the Venezuelan people.
Dag Nylander, director of the Norwegian Center for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), reported after the agreement that the necessary steps would be taken to obtain the legitimate funds confiscated by the international financial system.
In practice, the US administration has hindered the execution of this commitment and has oriented itself towards a license administration scheme in accordance with specific interests —for example, the license to Chevron—whose objective is to maintain a narrative of flexibility while the general architecture of pressure and economic blackmail remains unchanged.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration plans to continue calibrating its “sanctions” policy with an eye on expanding its access to Venezuelan oil due to internal inventory pressures from US companies seeking to resume operations interrupted by the failed maximum pressure campaign of the Trump era.
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Recently, CARICOM, in its 44th Summit, renewed its demand for the lifting of “sanctions” against Venezuela, in order to revitalize Petrocaribe. On the other hand, the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve has dropped to its lowest level since 1983. In March, the Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm informed US senators that “the restocking of the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve could take years.”
In addition, the heated US pre-election campaign heightens the political and electoral costs of a rapprochement with President Maduro because the Republican Party hopes to use this movement against Joe Biden, who has already confirmed that he will opt for re-election.
In this sense, the conference is useful for the Biden administration as a mechanism to reduce political and electoral backlash, and from it, a gradual movement to lift “sanctions” and strengthen a communication channel with President Maduro can be made viable, taking advantage of the coverage of the international event and the support granted to US flexibility on the issue from European and Latin American countries, as a diplomatic, electoral, and discursive shield.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Misión Verdad is a Venezuelan investigative journalism website with a socialist perspective in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution
Misión Verdad#molongui-disabled-linkMay 26, 2023
Misión Verdad#molongui-disabled-linkMay 23, 2023
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