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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Venezuela

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
December 2, 2013


More information about Venezuela is available on the Venezuela Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


Following Venezuela’s withdrawal in 1830 from its federation with Colombia, the United States established diplomatic relations with Venezuela in 1835, and maintained a generally close relationship throughout most of our history. However, the U.S.-Venezuelan bilateral relationship has been tense in recent years due to a variety of policy differences. Recognizing that this tension is based in significant differences of analysis, opinion, and policy, the U.S. Government nonetheless believes both countries would be better served by establishing a functional and productive relationship focusing on areas of mutual interest, including counternarcotics, counterterrorism, commerce, and energy.

Venezuela’s recent presidents, the late Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) and Nicolas Maduro (inaugurated April 19, 2013), have largely defined themselves in opposition to the United States, regularly criticizing the U.S. Government, its policies, and its relations with Latin America. President Maduro has also continued his predecessor’s policies, notably what the Government refers to as "21st Century Socialism," which is characterized by an outsized role for the executive, centralization of state command over the economy and efforts to achieve greater economic and political integration among nations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela has in recent years expelled a number of senior U.S. diplomats. The two countries have not had representation at the ambassadorial level since 2010. On October 1, 2013, after the Venezuelan Government declared the U.S. charge d’affaires persona non grata and ordered her expulsion, the United States Government reciprocated by declaring the Venezuelan charge d’affaires persona non grata. Both nations continue to maintain diplomatic relations and embassies in one another’s capitals.

U.S. Assistance to Venezuela

U.S. assistance to Venezuela seeks to strengthen democracy and freedom of expression, support independent civil society, and promote national dialogue.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States is Venezuela's most important trading partner. U.S. exports to Venezuela include machinery, organic chemicals, agricultural products, optical and medical instruments, autos and auto parts. Oil dominates U.S. imports from Venezuela, which is one of the top five suppliers of foreign oil to the United States. About 500 U.S. companies are represented in Venezuela. U.S. foreign direct investment in Venezuela is concentrated largely in the petroleum, manufacturing, and finance sectors.

In 2011, the Secretary of State decided to impose sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company (PDVSA) for delivering at least three cargoes of reformate, a blending component for gasoline, to Iran between December 2010 and March 2011. The sanctions prohibit PDVSA from competing for U.S. Government contracts, securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and obtaining export licenses.

In 2013, the Department of State announced the re-imposition of nonproliferation sanctions on the Venezuelan Military Industry Company (CAVIM) and other foreign entities and individuals under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSA).

Venezuela's Membership in International Organizations

Venezuela and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. On September 10, 2013, Venezuela formally withdrew from the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.

Bilateral Representation

There currently is no U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela; the U.S. Charge d'Affaires ad interim is Philip G. Laidlaw. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Venezuela maintains an embassy in the United States at 1099 30th St. NW, Washington, DC 20007; tel. (202) 342-2214.

More information about Venezuela is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Venezuela Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Venezuela Page
U.S. Embassy: Venezuela
History of U.S. Relations With Venezuela
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information

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