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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Reuters

Why Washington is chatting up Nicolás Maduro again

You can isolate some of the oil-rich strongmen all of the time, or all of the oil-rich strongmen some of the time, but that’s about it these days, as Joe Biden is quickly learning.

Last week, it emerged that the White House is exploring ways to relax certain sanctions against the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro. Under a proposed deal, Washington would allow US oil major Chevron to resume exporting oil from the country while Maduro, for his part, would agree to restart talks with the opposition about free and fair elections.

As a reminder, a 2018 crisis brought on by Maduro’s repression and economic mismanagement drove millions of Venezuelans abroad. It also landed the country under “maximum pressure” financial and energy sanctions from the US, which were designed to squeeze Maduro — the heir to “21st Century Socialist” Hugo Chávez — from power.

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