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Venezuela’s Assembly OKs Law Giving Maduro Authority to Skirt US Sanctions

This handout picture released by Venezuelan Presidency shows Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attending a meeting with members of the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas on Sept. 29, 2020. (AFP photo/Venezuelan Presidency/Jhonn Zerpa)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is a step closer to wielding new authority that will enable him to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

The pro-government National Constituent Assembly approved an anti-blockade bill Thursday allowing Maduro to sign new oil deals with private firms and foreign nations without disclosing them publicly.

Maduro created the assembly, a parallel legislative branch, to circumvent the opposition-controlled congress.

The Council of State is now expected to request a ruling from the Supreme Court of Justice on the constitutionality of the Anti-Blockade Law. If cleared, it then would allow changes to the ownership of joint ventures between state oil company PDVSA and private companies.

With his government facing severe financial straits because of dearth of oil production and restrictions on crude oil exports under the sanctions, Maduro has long sought control over oil operations.