US removes relative of Venezuela’s Maduro from sanctions list

Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, an ex-national treasurer, was put on blacklist in 2017 on charges of undermining democracy.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a press conference with flags behind him.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro met with a delegation of top US officials in Caracas in March in an attempt to kick-start negotiations with the opposition [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]

The United States has lifted sanctions against a relative of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, weeks after Washington said it was taking steps to encourage dialogue between Maduro’s government and the US-backed Venezuelan opposition.

The US Department of the Treasury confirmed on Friday that it had removed Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, Venezuela’s former national treasurer, from a blacklist on which he was placed in 2017 on charges of undermining democracy.

Malpica Flores also formerly held a top position at the national oil company PDVSA and is the nephew of First Lady Cilia Flores.

The move follows a meeting between a delegation of top US officials and Maduro in Caracas in March, seen as an attempt to kick-start negotiations between the government and Venezuela’s opposition politicians.

Last month, the Biden administration also moved to ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela as part of that effort to encourage talks. Two senior US government officials told The Associated Press at that time that Malpica Flores would be removed from the sanctions list.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that he believed discussions would soon resume in Mexico City between the government and opposition headed by Juan Guaido, and offered further sanctions relief if Maduro compromises.

But Washington also excluded Maduro from the recent Summit of the Americas, along with the presidents of Nicaragua and Cuba, prompting criticism from other leaders in the region.

Analysts also pointed out that US President Joe Biden’s effort to address migration in the Americas could be complicated by the exclusion of Venezuela, in particular, from those talks.

More than 6 million people have fled the country in recent years amid rising violence, poverty and a devastating socioeconomic crisis, according to the United Nations.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies