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Venezuela asks UN to manage its foreign funds after deal with opposition

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition have asked the United Nations to manage a fund from billions of dollars seized in foreign banks over US sanctions following an agreement to ease the protracted political and humanitarian situation in the country.

The deal, mediated by Norway, was struck between the government and its opponents in Mexico City on Saturday. The talks had been at a political stalemate for more than a year. The long-delayed "social protection agreement" focused on education, health, food security, flood response, and electricity programs.

The money, held in Venezuelan-owned accounts overseas, amounts to more than $3 billion and was frozen by US and European banks after the administration of former US President Donald Trump ramped up sanctions against Caracas to pressure Maduro to resign.

Maduro had said the aim of the talks was to recover the "kidnapped" resources for public investment. "Then we will see what other issues can be discussed."

The funds are set to help stabilize the country's electric grid, improve education infrastructure and deal with the impact of this year's deadly rains and flooding.

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Following the announcement for a UN-administered fund, the US Treasury Department issued a license for Chevron, the second largest US oil company, to expand operations in Venezuela, allowing it to import Venezuelan crude into the United States.

The oil-rich Latin American country began going through a downward spiral of poverty as well as social and developmental stagnation in 2018, when the West, led by the United States, and its favored Venezuelan opposition contested Maduro's victory in the presidential election.

Following the election, Western countries began slapping Caracas with a slew of backbreaking sanctions, which have been responsible for spawning the dire economic situation in the country, with millions having fled Venezuela since the onset of the crisis.

More than 7.1 million Venezuelans, as UN estimates show, have left their country and migrated to other Latin American countries or the United States amid Venezuela’s high inflation as well as food and medicine shortages following Washington’s crippling sections.

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