Venezuela’s Maduro blows hot and cold in bid for sanctions relief

Photo: Yahoo News

 

By Yahoo News – Andrea Tosta

Jul 6, 2021

For Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the voting in November’s regional elections is a second-tier priority as the government looks to make concessions to receive international sanctions relief.

Maduro’s own re-election in 2018 has not ever been recognized by either the opposition party at home or by around 60 other countries – including the European Union and United States.

Washington in particular has ramped up sanctions against the country and its ruling regime since then, putting huge pressure on a country that has been in recession for eight years and seen GDP shrink by 80 percent since 2014.

Maduro has promised to respect the results should his opponents triumph in the mayoral and gubernatorial contests, and to put an end to the “protectors” system whereby he has appointed loyalist figures in regions governed by the opposition in a bid to reduce his competitors’ power.

He is hoping such assurances will lead to a softening of the economic sanctions hanging over the country.

Meanwhile, Brussels and Washington are “committed to supporting a political negotiation to bring Venezuela’s nightmare to an end,” Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, told AFP.

“The ‘maximum pressure’ strategy against Maduro not only failed but was counterproductive and actually helped strengthen Venezuela’s authoritarian regime,” said Shifter.

“This does not mean that the US is now about to lift tough sanctions, but rather that it will focus on employing them as a negotiating tool to create conditions for free and fair elections.”

Asphyxiated by the sanctions, including an oil embargo, Maduro has asked for an “immediate lifting” in order to begin negotiations.

– ‘Embryo of negotiation’ –

Some sectors of the international community are beginning to look favorably on normalizing relations with Maduro, according to Luis Vicente Leon, president of pollsters Datanalisis.

On June 25, the European Union, United States and Canada issued a statement saying they were willing to “review” sanctions if negotiations to hold “credible” elections advance.

Read More: Yahoo News – Venezuela’s Maduro blows hot and cold in bid for sanctions relief

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