U.S. Restores Oil Sanctions on Venezuela as Hopes Dim for Free Election

When the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and his country’s opposition signed an agreement in October to work toward free and fair elections this year, it was seen as a glimmer of hope after years of authoritarian rule and economic free fall.

The United States, as a sign of good will, temporarily lifted some of the economic sanctions that have crippled the country’s crucial oil industry.

But six months later, the Maduro government has made several moves that have dimmed the chances of legitimate elections, and a frustrated Biden administration on Wednesday announced that it was letting the sanctions relief expire.

The reinstatement of the penalties could carry significant consequences for the future of Venezuela’s democracy, for its economy and for migration in the region.

“Maduro and his representatives did not fully comply with the spirit or the letter of the agreement,” said a senior administration official who spoke with a group of journalists on background to discuss a sensitive diplomatic matter.

Another top official discussing the restored sanctions cited the “disqualification of candidates and parties on technicalities, and what we see as a continued pattern of harassment and repression against opposition figures and civil society.”

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