The statement was released in Mexico, where the two sides are talking again for the first time in a year – mediated by Norway. According to Reuters news agency, more than 3 billion euros have been kept in foreign banks since the political crisis bottomed out in 2018.
After hotly contested elections, opposition leader Juan Gaido declared himself victorious amid mass protests. He was recognized as president by the United States, but Maduro’s government crushed protests and remained in office. The United States and Europe announced sanctions against his regime and froze Venezuelan bank accounts abroad.
The talks in Mexico were, according to the British BBC, ‘a first step away from a political impasse’. The US, UK and Canada welcome the resumption of talks between the two sides. The talks will eventually lead to free and transparent elections in 2024, but this hypersensitive subject is still off the agenda in Mexico.
The US has said it will gradually release Venezuelan assets abroad. As a gesture of goodwill, the US government authorized Chevron, an oil company, to extract crude oil in Venezuela and further liberalize the Venezuelan economy. A US license is valid for 6 months and can be revoked at any time.
Chevron is the last foreign oil company with limited operations in the oil-rich country since the sanctions. International restrictions on money allowed into Venezuela are in place, and the United States also controls it there. With that cash crunch and Chevron’s license, it maintains complete control over oil trade with Venezuela.
Venezuela’s political crisis and international sanctions have hit the country hard. The economy has collapsed, electricity is in dire straits, inflation has made money worthless and there are no dollars to import much-needed medicine and food. Since 2015, the United Nations estimates that more than 7 million of the 30 million Venezuelans have fled their country in search of a dignified existence. Half of these economic refugees will now live in abject poverty outside of Venezuela.
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