Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro talks with Belize’s Prime Minister Johnny Briceño at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, November 25, 2022. Photo: Matias Delacroix / AP.
Last Saturday, the Venezuelan government and opposition agreed to establish a USD $3 billion fund to address poverty, food shortages, and sanitary problems in the South American nation. The fund—derived from frozen Venezuelan assets—will be under direct U.N. supervision. This development marks the restart of talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition that have been stalled since October 2021 due to the extradition of Maduro’s ally, Alex Saab, to the United States. In a joint statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the parties “to engage in good faith toward… free and fair elections in 2024, the restoration of democratic institutions, and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.”
In response to the resumption of talks, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a license authorizing California-based petroleum company Chevron to resume “limited” oil extraction in Venezuela after years of sanctions. However, this shift only allows Chevron to use profits from oil exports to pay off Venezuelan debts rather than paying taxes or royalties directly to the Maduro government or state-owned oil giant PDVSA. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department allowed Chevron and other U.S. companies to perform basic operations jointly with PDVSA.