(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela said it opened a path for opposition leaders to participate in presidential elections ahead of a US deadline that threatened to reimpose sanctions.
Barred candidates, including opposition primary winner María Corina Machado, can appeal their cases in court until Dec. 15. The concession arrives on a Nov. 30 deadline for President Nicolás Maduro to offer guarantees toward fair elections or risk “snapback sanctions” from the US that would reimpose tight curbs on Venezuela’s oil sector.
The candidates “must abide by the court’s decision” and refrain from offending state bodies during the process, according to a statement released by Norway on X. Norway has mediated rounds of talks between Maduro and an opposition coalition known as the Unitary Platform.
While the announcement is a seeming concession from the Maduro government, it’s not a guarantee that barred candidates will ultimately be allowed to participate.
“Maduro will do just enough to give the Biden administration cover and ensure he maintains the fruits of sanctions relief beyond the initial six-month window,” said Ryan C. Berg, director at the American Program of the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
“For Maduro, it’s better to suffer a brief contradiction in rhetoric than to face some form of sanctions snap back in an electoral context,” he said.
It remains unclear if the US will consider Maduro’s offer a sufficient enough advance to avoid having licenses revoked, since there are still nearly three hundred political prisoners and at least three wrongfully detained Americans in the country.
Read More: Oil Executives Flock to Venezuela Amid Renewed Sanctions Threat
Oil executives have been visiting Venezuela to take advantage of lighter US sanctions, generally trying to secure access to oil and gas fields, rewrite contracts or recover old debts, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The US suspended sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold production, as well as some restrictions on bond trading after the governmet formally resumed talks with the opposition in October.
Less than a week after the Barbados deal was signed, both the Venezuela government and opposition accused each other of breaching the agreement. Since, the Maduro-controlled Supreme Court opened a criminal investigation into the opposition primaries and assembly leader Jorge Rodríguez said the EU would not be invited to oversee the 2024 presidential vote.
Read More: Venezuela Rejects European Observers for 2024 Presidential Vote
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