Open Letter to Joe Biden Regarding Venezuela

(Energy Analytics Institute, 14.Apr.2022) — Representatives of the Venezuelan private sector and civil society as well as US government representatives sent an open letter to President Joe Biden regarding the Venezuelan crisis, US policy toward Venezuela, and Venezuela’s humanitarian emergency, amongst other issues.

What follows is the complete open letter (also attached):

The undersigned civic and academic leaders, and renowned economists of Venezuela -defenders of democracy– respectfully address the President of the United States and representatives of the U.S government involved in US policy toward Venezuela.

We call on the government of the United States to continue promoting substantive and productive negotiations to resolve the Venezuelan crisis, and we urge the government of Venezuela, opposition political parties and the Platform of the United Opposition, to resume negotiations without delay. There is no more time to waste.

Let’s face it: the maximum pressure policy and economic sanctions against Venezuela did not achieve their goals.

While sanctions are not the root of Venezuela’s humanitarian emergency, they have gravely worsened conditions for the average Venezuelan. Most of the people live in poverty, with food insecurity and exposed to severe health deficiencies. Electricity, sanitation, and water quality are in a dire state. Solving the humanitarian crisis, with the urgency it requires, must be front-and-center during negotiations.

We suggest that political, institutional, and economic negotiations be based on incremental successes, building trust and goodwill toward new agreements. They must follow what is posible and feasible, and not take extreme positions that will make reaching an agreement an imposible task.

75% of Venezuelans strongly reject sectoral sanctions and only 10% would like to see them continued. Clearly, these sanctions have not bene fited the Venezuelan people.

We call on the US government to negotiate for the best interest of the Venezuelan people and to overcome domestic political pressures, which have unfortunately hindered the process.

In Venezuela, we have urged Nicolás Maduro to accept significant political and electoral reforms and to continue with the release of political prisoners. The government must recognize that agreements cannot be limited to the economic sphere. To the Venezuelan opposition, we have proposed the need to unify around basic and realistic principles that support potential agreements. We have encouraged the opposition not to be held hostage by extreme positions that only prolong the painful status quo.

We call for agreements that allow the return of Western oil companies and other private companies to regenerate the Venezuelan oil sector. This will create jobs and promote local development. The Venezuelan government must allow these companies to manage their projects and their contractors, as well as export revenues, while receiving the corresponding royalties and taxes. Companies will bring much-needed technology and capital to the sector.

Additionally, any oil sector agreements must support humanitarian relief – including earmarking contractually-mandated social investment funds – to enable medicines, food, fuel and other goods and services that are essential to guarantee people’s rights to health, education, food, and quality of life, through corruption-free mechanisms agreed to by the government and the opposition.

With the return of Western companies, Venezuelan oil production may increase significantly in a few months and even more next year. Venezuelan oil, which has so far been sold exclusively to China at significant discounts, must be available to US and world markets to counter the effect of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Venezuela can again contribute towards energy security of the free world and potentially help moderate fuel prices.

Venezuela is in the Western Hemisphere. Reasonable agreements can help achieve energy security for the West.

We call on other leaders and stakeholders, in Venezuela and elsewhere, to publicly endorse this letter.

Ending the crisis in Venezuela and helping rebuild the country’s future – under rule of law, economic freedom, and the protection of human rights – is our shared responsibility and our collective benefit.