0239 GMT April 21, 2021
Signaling that the new US president may be unlikely to loosen the screws on Venezuela anytime soon, the official emphasized that existing sanctions have enough special provisions to allow for humanitarian aid shipments to help Venezuelans cope with economic hardships and the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed Maduro’s Socialist government has been “actively preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
This suggests that for now Biden is prepared to stick with the specific sanctions, including crippling oil-sector sanctions, imposed by former President Donald Trump on the OPEC nation, despite the failure to force Maduro from power.
But Biden, by contrast, intends to move away from the mostly unilateral approach of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign and enlist more countries to help seek a diplomatic solution, the official said in an interview.
Biden’s administration has made clear it will continue to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Dozens of countries have backed Guaido’s claim following Maduro’s re-election in 2018.
Maduro, who calls Guaido a US puppet, has shown no signs of giving ground. Having retained support of the military as well as Russia, China, Cuba and Iran, he has rejected or ignored previous demands for such concessions.
The official did not specify what steps Maduro would need to make but said he could not be allowed to use negotiations as a “delaying tactic” to consolidate power and divide the opposition.