US blocks Venezuela from proceeding with WTO sanctions dispute
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US blocks Venezuela from proceeding with WTO sanctions dispute

The US blocked Venezuela Friday from pursuing its dispute over US sanctions at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Biden administration does not recognize Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela, due to claims of election manipulation and illegitimate presidency. Instead, the administration recognizes Juan Guaidó as the interim president.

Throughout 2020, the US imposed sanctions on a variety of Venezuelan politicians, nationals, companies, a prosecutor, and a judge. The sanctions were imposed under the authority of Executive Order 13692, which generally freezes the individual or entity’s US assets and prevents Americans from entering into any sort of deal with them.

In February, a UN rights expert urged the US, EU and other states to lift the sanctions that the countries imposed against Venezuela on claims that the sanctions only “exacerbated pre-existing calamities.” Venezuela requested that a WTO panel rule on whether the US sanctions breached global trading rules.

On Friday, the US asked that the request be removed, blocking Venezuela from pursuing the issue.

Office of the United States Trade Representative spokesperson Adam Hodge said:

The United States will reject any effort by Maduro to misuse the WTO to attack U.S. sanctions aimed at restoring human rights and democracy to Venezuela. The United States exercised its rights as a WTO Member to object to this illegitimate panel request because representatives of the Maduro regime do not speak on behalf of the Venezuelan people.