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Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has been waiting for the Biden Administration to negotiate a deal that would bring relief to the U.S. sanctions on the country holding the world’s largest oil reserves, he told Bloomberg Television in an interview.
Venezuela’s oil industry has crumbled in recent years due to the domestic crisis and the American sanctions. The U.S. ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Maduro’s sources of income—oil being the primary such source—began to cripple Venezuelan oil exports in early 2019. At the same time, the lack of investment in the oil industry, years of mismanagement and corruption, and the hyperinflation in Venezuela compounded the problems for the oil sector in the country sitting atop the world’s largest crude oil reserves. The pandemic further crippled economic activity in the South American country.
Maduro hopes for a deal with the U.S. that could allow foreign capital to flow in the country, including in its oil industry. However, “There hasn’t been a single positive sign,” he told Bloomberg. “None.”
“If Venezuela can’t produce oil and sell it, can’t produce and sell its gold, can’t produce and sell its bauxite, can’t produce iron, etcetera, and can’t earn revenue in the international market, how is it supposed to pay the holders of Venezuelan bonds?” Maduro said.
Last month, Venezuela released from jail the six U.S. executives at Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-held oil firm PDVSA, and placed them on house arrest in what sources told U.S. media was a goodwill gesture from Maduro’s regime as the Biden Administration is reviewing its policy toward Venezuela. The six U.S. executives at Citgo were initially detained by Maduro’s regime in Venezuela in November 2017, and the ‘Citgo 6’ sat in jail two years after their detention.
In December 2019, Venezuela released the six Citgo executives on house arrest, only to have the intelligence police of Maduro, SEBIN, round them up two months later, just after Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó met with then U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.