Venezuela - US Relations
Venezuela effectively achieved its independence from Spain by 1819 as part of the Republic of Colombia, and the United States recognized the Colombian federation in 1822. After Venezuela separated from Colombia in 1830, the United States recognized and established diplomatic relations with Venezuela in 1835.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Venezuela in 1835. While the U.S.-Venezuelan bilateral relationship has been strained in recent years, the United States maintains a strong and respectful relationship with the people of Venezuela. Venezuela’s recent presidents, the late Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) and Nicolas Maduro (2013-present), have defined themselves in part through their opposition to the United States, regularly criticizing the U.S. government, its policies, and its relations with Latin America. President Maduro’s policies are characterized by authoritarianism, intolerance for dissent, and irresponsible state intervention in the economy that has stoked hyperinflation and led to negative economic growth in a country with the world’s largest proven oil reserves.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said 23 January 2021 he was willing to "turn the page" with the US under President Joe Biden, calling for a "new path" after years of tension with Donald Trump's White House. "We are willing to walk a new path in our relations with Joe Biden's government based on mutual respect, dialogue, communication and understanding," the leftist leader told supporters, adding that he "is willing to turn the page" with the new US administration.
Trump's government had slapped multiple economic sanctions on Venezuela, including an oil embargo in place since 2019, in an attempt to overthrow the socialist regime of Maduro, whom the US has labeled a dictator. The United States maintains a broad general license that authorizes all financing and other dealings in new debt related to the exportation or reexportation of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, or replacement parts and components for medical devices, to Venezuela, or to persons in third countries purchasing specifically for resale to Venezuela, provided that the exportation or reexportation is licensed or otherwise authorized by the Department of Commerce.
After years of a frosty relationship Caracas and Washington fully broke diplomatic ties on January 23, 2019, when the US government recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president. After Biden won the US presidential election in November, Maduro congratulated the longtime politician, saying Venezuela was "ready for dialogue and good understanding with the people and government of the United States," repeating those sentiments again in December 2020.
Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, has already described Maduro as a "brutal dictator," and during his Senate confirmation hearing said he supported Trump's policy of backing Guaido.
The renewed support for Guaido followed the swearing in of a new pro-Maduro Venezuelan National Assembly following December elections boycotted by the opposition, who claimed fraud. The new parliament technically left Guaido, the chamber's former speaker, without a job, although he planned to maintain a parallel body of shadow opposition lawmakers that had gained foreign backing.
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