U.S. goes after Venezuela's oil to hit embattled Nicolas Maduro

Virginia Carson
January 30, 2019

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday the new measures would cost Maduro $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year and block him from accessing PDVSA assets worth $7 billion.

"We are here. We will keep acting and working to confront the humanitarian crisis", Guaido told a news conference.

On Monday, Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the USA would seize all assets of Venezuela's oil company PDVSA, and channel them into accounts that would be accessible only by Guaido or a new elected government the USA would approve of.

"Do not travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of USA citizens", said the advisory, issued Tuesday.

But a dozen Latin American countries have recognized Guaido and six European nations - Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain - have said they would follow suit unless Maduro calls elections by February 3.

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"The legitimate authorities of Venezuela have already labelled these sanctions illegal".

In separate but nearly simultaneous comments, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman declined to comment when asked whether Russian Federation would send military aid if the US military gets involved in the crisis in Venezuela. He said one member of Venezuela's Bolivarian national guard was reportedly killed in the state of Monagas.

Martinez said, "As Venezuelan soldiers, we are making a request to the U.S.to support us, in logistical terms, with communication, with weapons, so we can realize Venezuelan freedom".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certified that Guaido, the congressional leader who has declared himself interim president, has authority to take control of bank accounts that Venezuela's government has in the Federal Reserve Bank of NY or any other U.S. -insured banks.

It's unclear how much Venezuelan oil will be diverted because, under the sanctions, USA refiners will still be able to buy oil from PDVSA but the proceeds from the transactions will be set aside for the use of a new government in Venezuela.

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all relevant actors to lower tensions and commit to dialogue to address the protracted crisis in Venezuela, after anti-government protests in the capital Caracas turned violent, said his spokesman on Thursday.

Venezuela was the refiner's third-largest provider after the US and Mexico.

"We've seen Venezuelan official and military personnel heeding this call", he added, citing the defection this weekend of the country's military attache to Washington.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said historical experience showed foreign interference "only makes situations more complicated".

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