Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela has spent US$5 billion worth of oil to reduce its debt to Russia and China and to send oil to Cuba, while leaving Venezuelans without basic food and medicines, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said this week.
The Maduro regime is not buying enough food and medicines for the ordinary people, despite the fact that food and medicines are exempted from sanctions, and Venezuela is allowed to buy necessities even from America, Abrams said at a special briefing.
“The regime paid the Russian oil company Rosneft over a billion and a half dollars to reduce debt,” he said.
Venezuela’s state-held oil firm PDVSA has cut its outstanding debt to the largest Russian oil producer, Rosneft, to below US$1 billion, Russia’s oil giant, one of the few companies still dealing with Venezuela, said earlier this month.
Speaking about the Maduro regime’s oil dealings with Russia, China, and Cuba, Mr Abrams said:
“It has sent China just under $3 billion worth of oil, much of it to reduce debts. It has sent about $900 million worth of oil to Cuba. That’s about $5 billion that could have been spent on food and medicine but was not. And the regime steals more and more money.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. slapped sanctions on Corporacion Panamericana, a Cuban firm that helped the already sanctioned company Cubametalesevade sanctions.
“Today’s action will further squeeze the illegal, profitmaking scheme Cuba carries out to help the illegitimate dictator Nicolas Maduro and his unraveling network of corrupt advisors,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
Faced with increasingly tightening U.S. sanctions, Venezuela and PDVSA are reportedly offering contractors and suppliers to pay them in yuan in Chinese accounts, five people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week. At least four companies have been approached with such proposals, and they are still evaluating them, Reuters’ sources say, while it’s unclear if any payments in yuan have already been made.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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