Company News

Venezuela eyes oil reform and dialogue with U.S., Maduro's son says

LA GUAIRA, Venezuela, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party would consider reforming the country’s oil law if it retakes control of the legislature after the Dec. 6 election, Nicolas Maduro Guerra, son of the country’s president and a candidate for congress, said on Thursday.

Maduro Guerra, 30, also said the government was hoping to engage with the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Washington and Caracas cut off diplomatic relations after U.S. President Donald Trump expanded sanctions on Venezuela to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to resign.

“We have discussed it within the party, and we have information that I cannot share right now, but it would seem that there are good discussions based on respect,” Maduro Guerra told Reuters in an interview from La Guaira, a coastal city in the state of the same name he is running to represent.

“We are willing to hold dialogue with anyone to allow the development of our country.”

The Trump administration and dozens of other countries do not recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, arguing he rigged his 2018 re-election. Washington’s 2019 sanctions on state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela have exacerbated an economic collapse that began in 2013.

Citing the impact of the sanctions, Maduro Guerra said the legislature should revise the country’s hydrocarbons law to allow for more of a role for the private sector in the oil industry, without providing details of specific reforms.

“Private activity is not excluded from the model that we defend,” said Maduro Guerra, a flautist with an economics degree.

Venezuela’s mainstream opposition, led by National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, is boycotting the elections on the grounds that they will be rigged in favor of the ruling socialists.

Maduro Guerra dismissed those concerns, arguing the conditions were the same as 2015, when the opposition won control of the body. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in La Guaira, Venezuela Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Tom Brown)