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The Venezuelan government and opposition politicians agreed this week to create a United Nations-managed fund to finance programs for the country’s poor, as both sides are holding talks to resolve the ongoing crisis in the South American nation, the Associated Press reported.
Signed in Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, the new agreement will establish a social fund to support food, health, and education programs for Venezuelans, three-quarters of whom live in extreme poverty.
Diplomats said that Venezuelan assets held in the international financial system will be directed to the fund. But they did not confirm whether the US or European governments had agreed to allow frozen assets to be funneled to the new mechanism.
The agreement marks the resumption of talks between representatives of President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the opposition – including factions supported by the US and led by Juan Guaido – which stalled last year.
In 2019, Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela, claiming that his position as president of the country’s National Assembly entitled him to organize a transitional administration after Maduro was re-elected in a sham election in late 2018.
Under the then-Trump administration, the US imposed sanctions against Venezuela and recognized Guaido as the country’s president. It also gave him control of the Venezuelan government’s bank accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other US-insured banks.
But following the restart of talks, the Biden administration agreed to ease some oil sanctions on Venezuela.
The move will allow the California-based Chevron company to resume limited energy production in Venezuela following years of sanctions that have drastically reduced oil and gas profits flowing to Maduro’s regime.
Officials noted that the policy will only ensure that profits from the sale of oil would be directed to paying down debt owed to Chevron, rather than providing profits to Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.