There's all this talk about how the Biden administration is working on a plan to ease sanctions on Venezuela. Coupled with the "scoop" about Jorge Rodriguez and U.S. National Security Council's Juan Gonzalez having met in different parts of the world, for back channel negotiations, it has driven the commentariat to conclude that Venezuela is about to add hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day to the market, which ultimately caused a (momentary) drop in prices. Nicolas Maduro is expected to allow for free and fair elections, in exchange for sanctions relief, and everyone will live happily ever after. The non-vanilla version is the appointment of Elvis Amoroso to head Venezuela's National Electoral Council.
Oil experts won't include Amoroso's background in their fantastic forecasts. Those lobbying to bring sanctions to an end and hoping for a return to business as usual won't admit that Maduro's choice of electoral deputy head is about the clearest signal yet that free and fair elections isn’t even in the cards, and is not negotiable.
Reality isn't something policy advisors and negotiators are particularly troubled with. Early presidential elections have already been hinted by Maduro. The surest bet is that everything will happen according to his plan, which doesn’t include bowing to America's demands. Maduro has developed a remarkable resilience to whatever the U.S. has thrown at him, and is perfectly capable of running an election -that no one will vouch for- and win another term. His opposition stands no chance, as usual, and sanctions never affected his control and ability to manoeuvre.
How will the White House plan to "establish democracy in Venezuela" work out? It won't. It'll be trinkets -like getting someone released from a dungeon- for economic benefits that will only cement Maduro's grip on power. The U.S. government's favouritism for Chevron will not last much longer. It won't be able to keep creditors at bay forever either. When other players enter the fray, and there's no shortage of those, it'll be business as usual, mainly for chavismo.
Venezuela is not going to have free and fair elections anytime soon. Sanctions or not, the economic conditions for Venezuelans will not improve. PDVSA cannot just turn the spigot and flood the market, billions of dollars are required to bring it back from its state of near total dereliction.
A parallel show has been running all along, best exemplified by Maduro's recent announcement that Venezuela will soon join BRICS. Hugo Chavez used to say that another world was possible. Successive U.S. administrations made sure to push Maduro to a position where he could say: hasta la vista, baby!