USA slaps sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil firm

30 January, 2019, 02:56 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Canada to host Lima group Feb. 4 in effort to find solution to Venezuela crisis

On Monday, the Trump administration announced billions of dollars in new sanctions against Maduro and the country's state-owned oil monopoly PDVSA.

"I have given specific instructions to the head of PDVSA to launch political and legal action, in U.S. and global courts, to defend the property and assets of Citgo", PDVSA's US-based subsidiary, Maduro said on state television.

"We took this decision to ensure that Citgo stays in the hands of Venezuelans". "Be on alert, Venezuela!".

The United Nations Human Rights Office says at least 40 Venezuelans have died in recent protests over the power struggle between President Nicolas Maduro and self-appointed interim president Juan Guaidó.

"The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela's tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people's efforts to restore their democracy", Mnuchin said.

"The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders, " the Florida Republican said. "We are waiting for you and the commitment you have to our constitution", Guaido said at a Sunday news conference.

"So when there is a recognition that the company is the property of, the rightful rulers, the rightful leaders, then indeed that money will be available to Guaido". Maduro, sworn in on January 10 for a second term after disputed elections a year ago, accuses Guaido of staging a USA -directed coup against him.

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The United States is handing control over Venezuela's US bank accounts to opposition challenger Juan Guaido and Russian Federation says it expects Venezuela to have problems paying its debts.

When asked if the USA had plans to intervene amid the unrest, Trump said of Venezuela, "We're not considering anything, but all options are on the table", CBS News reported. Brent crude futures surged 2.9% to $61.7 per barrel Tuesday morning on the news, while West Texas Intermediate futures rose 3.4% to $53.9 per barrel. The country sends 41 percent of its oil exports to the U.S. Critically, U.S. refiners are among the few customers that pay cash to Venezuela for its oil.

Oil constitutes close to 90 per cent of Venezuelan exports.

The Kremlin condemned the sanctions as illegal interference, while China said they would lead to suffering for which Washington would bear responsibility.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions completely undermined confidence in an global financial system that is dominated by the U.S.

But Venezuela is very reliant on the US for its oil revenue. Venezuela's ambassador, Jorge Valero, said the Trump administration was preparing a "military invasion" and questioned whether Washington had the moral authority to "impose a diktat" on Caracas.


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