By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday that licenses and authorizations granted so far by the US to ease sanctions it imposed on Venezuela are "headed in the right direction” but are “not enough.”
The easing of the oil embargo by the US government "undoubtedly goes in the right direction, although it is not enough for what Venezuela demands, which is the complete lifting of all unilateral coercive measures on the oil industry,” Maduro said at a press conference.
His remarks came after Washington on Saturday authorized American oil company Chevron Corp. to expand its production in Venezuela and bring the South American country's crude oil to the US.
The decision to lift some sanctions was made by the Biden administration to encourage the resumption of negotiations between the government of Maduro and the Washington-backed opposition, which were suspended since October of last year.
Maduro’s government and the opposition have signed a preliminary agreement to release some $3 billion in frozen assets of the government that were blocked abroad by sanctions. The funds would be used for social programs in the country, which desperately needs to get through the economic and social crisis it is undergoing.
Maduro conditioned the holding of free elections in 2024 on the lifting of international sanctions.
"If they want free elections, we want elections free of sanctions,” he said after criticizing former President Donald Trump's decision to pull Venezuela out of the “world's economic circuit.”
It was "a bad idea," Maduro said.
In 2017, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela that included a ban on trading Venezuelan Treasury bonds in US financial markets and doing business with Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA. Other sanctions were imposed against officials of the South American country, whose assets were frozen.