Washington’s ultimate goal — and that of the otherwise often fractured Venezuelan opposition — is to push Mr. Maduro toward setting free and fair conditions for the 2024 presidential election. In the past, Mr. Maduro has controlled elections by barring many opposition leaders, jailing others and co-opting political parties.
Francisco Monaldi, director of the Latin America Energy Program at Rice University, said the Chevron deal was not just symbolic. Within two years, the company could be producing more than 200,000 barrels a day in Venezuela, adding to the approximately 765,000 barrels now pumped daily, according to Argus, an industry monitor.
The issue to watch going forward, he added, is whether other companies will be able to use the Chevron deal to pressure Washington into lifting further sanctions against Venezuela.
Current U.S. rules prohibit both American and foreign companies from buying Venezuelan oil. But entities like Repsol in Spain and Reliance in India have lobbied Washington for sanctions relief for years, Mr. Monaldi said.
“It’s very hard to justify — for the U.S. to tell India not to buy Venezuelan oil when they are buying Venezuelan oil,” he said.
While the multibillion-dollar humanitarian aid deal still needs to be finalized, on Saturday the Venezuelan government and opposition signed an accord laying out the framework for monitoring that future program. Norway will facilitate that monitoring process.
In a presentation to the news media, Dag Nylander, the head of the Norwegian delegation at the meeting in Mexico, said that the aid program would work to improve the country’s public health system, its national electricity system and its public education system, and that it would address problems caused by torrential rains this year.
Julie Turkewitz reported from Bogotá, Colombia, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Nantucket, in Massachusetts. Isayen Herrera contributed reporting from Caracas, Venezuela.