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Business News/ News / World/  Venezuela Flouts US-Brokered Deal, Pressing Biden to Reimpose Sanctions
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Venezuela Flouts US-Brokered Deal, Pressing Biden to Reimpose Sanctions

Venezuela set new conditions for elections this year, flouting a US-brokered agreement and potentially triggering tougher sanctions by Washington.

Venezuela Flouts US-Brokered Deal, Pressing Biden to Reimpose SanctionsPremium
Venezuela Flouts US-Brokered Deal, Pressing Biden to Reimpose Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela set new conditions for elections this year, flouting a US-brokered agreement and potentially triggering tougher sanctions by Washington.  

The changes could bring forward the date of vote and weaken guarantees of international monitoring, according to a draft of the proposals seen by Bloomberg News. President Nicolas Maduro’s government signed the new deal during a meeting with allies at the National Assembly. 

The move comes amid increased repression of Venezuela’s opposition, which has included banning their leading candidate María Corina Machado from taking part in the election, and the arrest of activist and defense lawyer Rocío San Miguel. 

The administration of US President Joe Biden engaged in direct talks with the Maduro government last year. This lead to the signing of an electoral agreement with main opposition bloc, and the easing of US economic sanctions.  

The opposition coalition, known as the Unitary Platform, declined to attend Wednesday’s event. Earlier this week they called on the government to comply with the agreement they had already reached.

When Maduro’s allies on the Supreme Court in January confirmed the ban on Machado running, the US annulled a license it had issued to Venezuela’s state gold producer, and threatened to let the most important one, on oil and gas, expire if Venezuela didn’t take the right steps toward a fairer vote ahead of April.

US Gas Prices 

Although Maduro is backsliding from his pledge to allow freer and fairer elections, Biden’s administration may be reluctant to reimpose sanctions if it can avoid it. 

An increased flow of Venezuelan crude helps keep down global oil prices and US gasoline prices. Biden also needs to stem the tide of migration as he campaigns for reelection this year. A stronger Venezuelan economy could lower the number of people leaving the country. 

Venezuela’s defaulted bonds received a push last week with JPMorgan’s decision to re-weight the securities in widely followed emerging market indexes. But the bonds pared gains as investors fret about the worsening political climate. 

Read more: Citi Sees Up to $1.25 Billion of Forced Buying of Venezuela Debt

International Monitoring

The deal signed Tuesday contains 27 options for dates on which to hold the vote, from late March to December. 

Head of Congress Jorge Rodríguez said they would deliver on Friday the document to the electoral authority, to determine on the date.

The Venezuela government had agreed with the opposition to hold the elections in the second half of the year, which would give them more time to prepare and organize international monitoring.  

The so-called Barbados agreement also guaranteed the vote would have credible international observation, with missions from the Carter Center, European Union and United Nations to be invited. The new deal talks generically about technical companionship and conditions it to missions strictly complying with the country’s laws.

The new deal “undermines the Barbados agreement," Machado said Monday, during a webcast hosted by the Atlantic Council Monday. “The Barbados agreement should be respected."

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 29 Feb 2024, 12:09 AM IST
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