While the US has allowed Chevron to continue business in Venezuela, the Trump Administration could find itself in an entirely new conflict, as reports claim it is considering sanctions against Russia’s top oil producer for also doing business in Venezuela.
Despite breaking an international travel ban for the second time, opposition leader Juan Guaido was not arrested by the government when he returned to Venezuela on Tuesday. But he was met with crowds of protesters.
Chants of “Get out!” and “Traitor” could be heard from those who came to protest Guaido’s return, as civilians were seen clashing with supporters at the country’s main airport near Caracas.
Feeling triumphant and energized after meetings with Western leaders that included a visit to the Oval Office with President Trump, Guaido took to Twitter to declare that he was returning with “the commitment of the free world willing to help” Venezuela recover freedom and democracy.
However, while it has been more than a year since Guaido declared himself as the acting president of Venezuela, the elected president, Nicolas Maduro, has retained power and has kept the support of the military.
Maduro has repeatedly accused the US of attempting to orchestrate a coup to remove him from power. Both through public support and through the implementation of sanctions targeting the country.
The latest measures followed Trump’s White House meeting with Guaido last week, where he pledged to remove Maduro from power, and referred to him as an “illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people.”
Then on Friday, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned airline, claiming it is used by Maduro “to shuttle corrupt regime officials around the world to fuel support for its anti-democratic efforts.”
In response, thousands of pro-Maduro protesters took to the streets in Caracas on Monday. The elected leader said he is preparing a lawsuit against the US in international court in response to the latest sanctions. He also argued that Guaido is directly responsible.
Maduro later took to Twitter where he said, “The government of the US chases, attacks and blocks Venezuela affecting the economy, import of food, medicine, and inputs required by the people. They think they own the world but we will stay firm, working and defeating difficulties.”
It is not clear yet how the Trump Administration intends to follow through on its plan to overthrow Maduro, and if it will continue to ramp up pressure in the coming months.
Despite months of increased sanctions, the California-based oil company Chevron remains the only US producer allowed to operate in Venezuela, and it has actually increased oil output in the country to its highest levels in almost a year.
Reports have noted that, “Chevron’s waiver, which expires in April, has benefited both countries, mitigating the collapse in Venezuela’s production and hindering further expansion by Russia and China.”
However, while the US has allowed Chevron to continue business with the country, the Trump Administration could find itself in an entirely new conflict, as reports claim it is considering sanctions against Russia’s top oil producer for also doing business in Venezuela.