- Gerardo Lizard
- BBC News World
After a long period of insistence on sanctions, stigma and extreme pressure, the United States began to loosen its policy toward its two major Latin American rivals, Cuba and Venezuela.
Washington announced separately this week that it would ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba, as well as hold talks with a major U.S. oil company based in Venezuela.
Activities are defined and Are far from proposing the normalization of relationships Of the United States with the governments of both countries.
But the twist is clearly what the White House seeks to give Joe Biden the stern strategy devised by former President Donald Trump for those countries.
According to experts, there are several reasons behind this change.
A controversial summit
The announcements come from Washington as the Biden administration prepares to hold its ninth US summit in Los Angeles next month.
The preamble to the conference is marked by struggles and a Risk of neglect The United States has suggested that some presidents are authoritarian in excluding Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has stipulated that all three countries must attend the meeting, and his Bolivian representative, Luis Ars, agreed.
Presidents such as Argentina, Chile and Honduras have called on other Latin American governments and all countries in the region to attend the summit.
The United States responded by saying it had not yet made a final decision on the guests, and began talks with Lopez Obrador about his claim.
In the Biden government they deny it This controversy at the summit has something to do with the changes Policy on Cuba and Venezuela.
“I would say this is completely different from what the Mexican president said about Cuba,” a senior U.S. government official told reporters Tuesday about the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela.
The official said the move, which includes “limited” recognition of the US oil company Chevron to negotiate possible future actions with Venezuela, seeks to re-establish dialogue between Nicolas Maduro’s government and his opponents.
He also pointed out that the Biden administration had been preparing for months its new policy towards Cuba, which would allow commercial flights to island cities beyond Havana and suspend the US $ 1,000 per quarter limit on remittances.
However, some analysts point out A clear link Between these changes and the region’s criticism of the US summit on June 6-10.
Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American program at the Wilson Center, an independent analytics center in Washington, D.C.
He also says he is the target of the White House Is to show disagreement with the Trump administration Amid doubts about the commitments to be implemented at the summit, on policies related to Cuba, Venezuela and migration.
In fact, shortly after taking office in January 2020, many expected Biden to loosen Trump’s control over Cuba and Venezuela, but various reasons delayed the change.
Although restrictions on Cuba and Venezuela have been eased, analysts say Not possible Biden finally invites both countries to a conference in Los Angeles.
Domestic political reasons also weigh in: the presence of Cuban or Venezuelan officials in the United States could lead to internal rejection just months before the midterm elections in November.
The changes announced by Washington this week have been criticized not only by Republicans but also by Democrats such as Bob Menendez, who heads the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“It would be a tactic to fail to give Maduro ineligible support only to his regime to promise to sit in the negotiations,” Mendes said in a statement.
Speaking on condition that his name be withheld, the senior Biden executive denied that the Chevron sanction would benefit the Maduro government, which is under Washington’s sanctions.
Warned The United States may further increase or relax sanctions To Venezuela depending on what is going on in the dialogue between the Maduro government and its opponents.
He further added that Washington’s goal was to advance free and fair elections in Venezuela, but refused to focus on oil.
But some are expecting more revenue for Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA after the announcement.
“Sooner or later, Chevron will explore for oil and PDVSA will benefit from it,” Ryan Berg, a Latin American researcher for strategic and international research (CSIS) in Washington, told the BBC Brazil.
Others believe the United States sees Venezuela as having the world’s largest proven oil reserves. An opportunity Low Oil pricesIt rose after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
In March, after the US imposed sanctions on Russian oil, Biden’s envoys paid a surprise visit to Venezuela to hold private talks with Maduro, a Moscow ally who said he was ready to increase oil production.
Venezuela Two American prisoners were released after that encounterIt also drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.
The notion that the West’s confrontation with Russia has moved U.S. policy toward Venezuela is now gaining strength.
“The visit in March (to Maduro) is part of a global vision of how to shift the production of oil elsewhere from Russia to the rest of the world,” says Arnsen. “And in Latin America, the obvious country is Venezuela.”
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