U.S. to reinstate Venezuela sanctions after Nicolas Maduro's failure to ensure democratic elections

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Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The United States plans to reimpose sanctions on Venezuela due to President Nicolas Maduro's failure to uphold the election agreement he signed in October, the State Department said Tuesday.

According to a State Department release, the United States will not renew General License 44 after it expires April 18. The license provides relief to Venezuela's oil and gas sector, pursuant of the Barbados Agreement, which Maduro and the Unitary Platform signed in October.

The United States also is revoking General License 43, which authorized transactions involving Venezuelan state-owned gold mining company Minerven. U.S. citizens doing business with Minerven will have 14 days to wind down any transactions previously authorized by the license.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez responded to the sanctions in a post on X, which Maduro reposted.

"All of Venezuela rejects the rude and improper blackmail and ultimatum expressed by the U.S. government," the post read.

Rodriguez said Venezuela would respond to the United States' "economic aggression" by canceling repatriation flights for Venezuelan migrants effective Feb. 13.

President Joe Biden struck a deal in October with Maduro to deport thousands of undocumented Venezuelan migrants through a series of chartered flights.

The United States repealed some sanctions against Venezuela in October after Maduro and the opposition Unitary Platform signed the Barbados Agreement, which sets conditions for presidential elections to be held in the second half of 2024.

The State Department cited actions by the Marduro regime, including the arrest of Unitary Platform members and the barring of candidates from running in this year's election, as cause for reinstating sanctions.

Venezuela's top court last week upheld a ban on Maria Corina, the conservative opposition candidate who was supposed to run against Maduro in the 2024 election, which was in violation of the October agreement.

Former President Donald Trump's administration imposed heavy sanctions against Venezuela in an effort to oust Maduro while backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Opposition groups formed the Unitary Platform in 2021 after international support for Guaido diminished. Maduro was reluctant to negotiate with the Unitary Platform until October of last year.

When the Barbados Agreement was signed, the Joe Biden administration viewed it as a roadmap to presidential elections in a country that has been suffering politically and economically under Maduro.

The State Department said the Barbados Agreement "remains the most viable mechanism to resolving Venezuela's longstanding political, economic, and humanitarian crisis" but is contingent on Maduro and his representatives upholding their end of the bargain.