Colombian Diplomat Claims Biden Administration May Lift Venezuela Sanctions

Maduro and Biden
Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images

CARACAS, Venezuela — Colombian Ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti claimed on Tuesday that the Biden Administration is evaluating lifting American sanctions on the Venezuelan socialist regime.

Benedetti made the claim during an interview with the Colombian radio La FM.

According to Benedetti, the prospective lifting of sanctions would be part of negotiations between the Biden administration and Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. Radical leftist Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who is meeting with Biden on Thursday, would potentially mediate exchanges between the two.

“First, negotiations have been going on for about five or six months between the White House and Miraflores [Venezuela’s presidential palace],” Benedetti claimed. “Two, there has always been an intermediary. Three, President Petro took the initiative and also the United States extended much more initiative to talk about the issue of sanctions.”

Benedetti added that Maduro is willing to receive any proposal concerning the sanctions and give an answer in five or six days.

The Colombian ambassador further claimed the subject of the Maduro regime sanctions has to be resolved before August, expecting the American 2024 presidential election season, where Venezuela would presumably be a campaign issue, to begin in November. Unlike many other countries, America does not have a fixed legal period during which candidates can campaign, and several of them, most notably former President Donald Trump, have been campaigning for months already.

“This [the negotiations] has been hand in hand with the United States, and sometimes the United States has gone much further than one would have thought at some point. May that come to a good end,” Benedetti said. “The electoral calendar starts in November. If this is not done in August or July, absolutely nothing is going to get done.”

“The issue is going to be China and Venezuela in the campaign,” he continued. “So, among the democrats [supporters of democracy, not the Democrat Party] what they want is to see who is the strongest or the most macho in the face of Venezuela and China.”

“Therefore, for us it is going to be a primordial issue that this has a good success because the Venezuela issue in a campaign drags Colombia into that campaign,” Benedetti claimed.

The ambassador, in a different interview given to the Colombian magazine Semana, claimed that Biden “asked” Petro to meditate on Venezuela.

Petro, who arrived in the United States on Sunday as part of a multi-day official visit, is slated to hold a meeting with President Joe Biden on Thursday to “propose” a new bilateral agenda with Colombia on “climate change, biodiversity protection, energy transition, Total Peace efforts, migration, drug policy, and trade opportunities.”

Petro said on Monday that he would discuss lifting sanctions on the Maduro regime with Biden during their upcoming meeting.

To achieve such an end, Petro is organizing an international conference in Bogotá, his nation’s capital, on April 25, featuring representatives of 15 countries, including the United States, the European Union, and Latin American nations.

“There is going to be a summit, practically in a week, in Bogotá of European foreign ministers, of the United States government, of many Latin American governments, in order to unblock the negotiations between Venezuela, the United States, Mexico and Norway, with one objective, that there be no sanctions, that there be much more democracy,” Petro said during a visit to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. “More democracy, zero sanctions, that is the goal of the conference in Bogotá.”

Maduro expressed his support for Petro’s initiative on Monday.

“I expressed to him [Petro] Venezuela’s full support so that this conference will allow us to energize and revive our country’s struggle to achieve respect for our sovereignty,” Maduro said, “respect for our independence, and the definitive lifting of all unilateral coercive measures on Venezuela, on the basis of what we have always sought, political dialogue.”

Petro’s upcoming international conference also seeks to “unthaw” negotiations between the Maduro regime and the establishment “opposition.” The negotiations, which had been ongoing last year in Mexico with support from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, sought to pave the way for holding “free and fair” presidential elections in Venezuela in 2024. 

Much like every other attempt at negotiation between the socialist regime and the “opposition” over the past two decades of chavista rule in Venezuela, the latest round ended abruptly, yielding no tangible results or benefits for the Venezuelan population.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Juan González claimed during a forum organized by the Spanish news agency EFE on Tuesday that the Biden administration is only willing to lift sanctions on the Maduro regime if it leads to “free and fair” elections.

“I imagine it will be a topic of conversation between the two presidents,” González said.

González, who described Venezuela’s ongoing crisis as a “21st century civil conflict,” emphasized the importance of international cooperation to address the Venezuelan crisis, especially after the policies implemented by the Trump Administration, which he described as “failed.”

“It has taken us three years to dismantle what were the failed policies of the Trump Administration to impose pressure through sanctions in the absence of a conversation at the international level,” González added.

The Biden Administration has already provided the Maduro regime with oil sanctions relief through a license granted to California-based Chevron in November that allows the company to export Venezuelan oil into U.S. markets.

Nicolás Maduro vehemently claimed in December that he would not support nor hold “free and fair” elections in Venezuela until all sanctions imposed upon his regime were first rescinded. The regime calls Maduro’s demands, which have been repeated by other high-ranking members of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), “sanctions-free fair elections.”


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