The United States warned Tuesday it will reimpose sanctions on Venezuela's oil and gas sector, relaxed under a reconciliation deal, after opponents to President Nicolas Maduro were barred from running against him.
The State Department issued a deadline to end a license that allowed US dealings with Venezuela's key money-making sector, saying Maduro was violating an agreement with the opposition reached in Barbados in October.
"Absent progress between Maduro and his representatives and the opposition Unitary Platform, particularly on allowing all presidential candidates to compete in this year's election, the United States will not renew the license when it expires on April 18, 2024," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
The United States earlier said it was immediately winding down another license that allowed operations by the Venezuelan state-owned gold mining company, Minerven.
"The United States remains strongly committed to supporting dialogue between the parties and to the aspirations of the Venezuelan people for a democratic future," Miller said.
"We will continue to work with the international community and all peaceful democratic actors across the political spectrum in Venezuela and leverage mechanisms at our disposal to encourage a return to the principles in the Barbados agreement," he said.
Venezuela's Supreme Court, loyal to Maduro, on Friday upheld a 15-year ban on holding public office against the president's main opponent in elections due this year, Maria Corina Machado.
The court also confirmed the ineligibility of a possible opposition stand-in – two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.
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