Antony Blinken Denies Venezuela Sanctions Relief Plan While Pushing to Legitimize Maduro

SANTIAGO, CHILE - OCTOBER 05: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press
Jonnathan Oyarzun/Getty Images, Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg/Getty Images

CARACAS – Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied on Thursday that the Biden Administration is seeking to provide sanctions relief to Venezuela’s socialist regime – while tacitly legitimizing dictator Nicolás Maduro by promoting the idea of holding “free and fair” elections against him in 2024.

“On Venezuela, there is no change in our policy or on our approach. There’s no change to our sanctions policy,” Blinken stated at a joint press conference with Peruvian Foreign Affairs Minister César Landa held on Thursday in the city of Lima.

Blinken’s remarks were given in response to a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that stated the United States is prepared to ease oil sanctions on the Maduro regime, imposed by the Trump administration, which would allow Chevron to pump Venezuelan oil for its sale in U.S. and European markets.

Blinken told reporters that any review or change in the sanctions would only take place if the Maduro regime takes steps towards restoring democracy in the South American nation.

“We’ve also said very clearly that we’ll review our policies, including our sanctions policies, in response to constructive steps by the Maduro regime to restore democracy in Venezuela as well as to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people, who are the number one victims of the policies of the regime,” Blinken asserted.

Blinken, currently on a Latin American tour within the context of the 52nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), has been promoting the Biden Administration’s plan to bring both Venezuela’s rightful leadership and the Maduro regime back to the negotiating table.

Engaging in dialogue with Maduro would translate into further granting legitimacy to the rogue socialist regime. Maduro’s refusal to step down after holding sham elections in 2018 gave forth to a new chapter of Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis in 2019, when the National Assembly acted upon what the Venezuelan constitution dictates, and assigned Juan Guaidó — who was the head of the Venezuela legislative branch at the time — to serve as interim president of the country.

Since then, the United States, like much of the free world, has not recognized Maduro’s rule as legitimate. Guaidó — who himself wields no power in the country beyond being a symbolic figure — alongside the Venezuelan”‘opposition,” had promised the nation’s citizens that he would pursue three main goals in 2019: the cessation of Maduro’s usurpation of power, a transitional government, and free elections, all of which have yet to take place. By 2020, Venezuelan citizens’ trust in Guaidó had all but evaporated.

Highly unpopular negotiations between Guaidó’s representatives, the Venezuelan “opposition,” and the Maduro regime have taken place in the past. Failed negotiations between the socialist regime and the Venezuelan “opposition” have been a common recurrence over the past two decades of Venezuela’s political crisis, with the latest failed attempt having taken place in 2021.

After three years of an ongoing political crisis that has left Venezuelans with two presidents, much of the nation’s population has lost faith in the opposition, believing it to be working alongside the regime rather than seeking to end the now over two-decade-old Bolivarian Socialism.

With no political solution in sight, Venezuela’s ongoing migrant crisis has followed the collapse of the chavista — “Socialism of the 21st century” that was erstwhile celebrated by the international left — with a reported 6.8 million citizens — one-fifth of the nation’s total estimated population of 30 million — having fled the country as of August 2022.

The Maduro regime vehemently denies the existence of a Venezuelan migrant crisis, going as far as to describe the millions that have left the country as “phantom migrants.”

The Biden Administration has taken actions toward “normalizing” the Maduro regime. In June, it chose to not invite Juan Guaidó or Nicolás Maduro to the Summit of the Americas, a move cataloged as a prelude to a more formal normalization of the socialist regime. At the start of October, the Biden administration carried out a prisoner swap with the Maduro regime, exchanging Maduro’s “narco-nephews,” who had been serving an 18-year sentence in a U.S. prison for attempting to move 800 kilograms of cocaine into America for seven U.S citizens unjustly held hostage by the socialist regime.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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