U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says any change in the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela could only come in response to constructive steps by the Maduro regime to restore democracy.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Organization of the American States meeting in Lima, Peru, on Thursday, the top U.S. diplomat said, “On Venezuela, there is no change in our policy or on our approach.”
His answer came in response to a question about news reports that the United States is prepared to allow Chevron Oil to resume operations in Venezuela.
The United States and several other countries imposed oil and economic sanctions on Venezuela in 2019 after they recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president, not Nicolas Maduro.
Blinken said the U.S. has been very clear that it will review sanctions policies “in response to constructive steps by the Maduro regime to move toward free and fair elections.”
Blinken added that Maduro must also move “to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people, who are the number one victims of the policies of the regime.”
Over the weekend, Venezuela and the United States participated in a prisoner swap. Venezuela released seven people, while the U.S. released two nephews of President Maduro’s wife who had been imprisoned on drug trafficking convictions.
Five of the people released by Venezuela were employees of Citgo.