US removes Venezuelan Maduro family member from sanctions list

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

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

Malpica Flores also previously held a senior position at the national oil company PDVSA and is the cousin 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 Venezuelan opposition politicians.

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

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that he believed talks in Mexico City would soon resume between the government and opposition led 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, sparking criticism from other leaders in the region.

Analysts also pointed out that US President Joe Biden’s efforts to tackle migration in America 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 mounting violence, poverty and a devastating socio-economic crisis, according to the United Nations.



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