Published: Wed, January 30, 2019
Business | By Pearl Harrison

United States hits 'corrupt' Venezuela oil firm PDVSA with sanctions

United States hits 'corrupt' Venezuela oil firm PDVSA with sanctions

On January 23, 696 people were detained, the highest number of recorded detentions in Venezuela in 20 years, the United Nations Human Rights Council said.

The meeting will take place one day after the Trump administration sanctioned Venezuela's state-owned oil company, ratcheting up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the USA -backed opposition in the oil-rich South American nation. Pompeo encouraged the council to recognize Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela.

Venezuela exports about 500,000 barrels of oil daily to the United States, mostly to Citgo and refineries owned by Valero Energy Corp and Chevron Corp.

The National Assembly is led by Guaido and is the only branch of Venezuela's government recognized by the US and several other nations.

If Maduro doesn't comply with this demand, the European Union said it "will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country's leadership in line with article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution".

The move comes at a time when Venezuela is also mired in a political crisis after parliament head Juan Guaido declared himself "acting president" last week.

Inside Venezuela, Maduro holds the reins with the armed forces still loyal to him despite an opposition push to gain their support by proposing amnesty for anybody who supports Guaido's transitional government.

Along with China and Russia, Turkey and leftist regional allies Bolivia, Cuba and Mexico still back Mr Maduro.

Asked to explain the words, the White House said in an email that: "As the President has said, all options are on the table".

Russian Federation and China, who are among the countries supporting Maduro's administration and have bankrolled his government, strongly criticized the USA sanctions on Monday.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian state news agencies that "there will probably be problems" for Venezuela in paying its debts.

Venezuela has sunk into economic and political turmoil under Maduro's socialist government, with inflation seen rising to 10 million percent this year.

"The relevant country's sanctions on Venezuela will lead to the deterioration of conditions of people's lives", Geng told a regular news briefing in Beijing, referring to the United States.

"When a company is on the Treasury's SDN list, most worldwide banks will cease dealings with them", said Joe McMonigle, an energy policy analyst for Hedgeye Risk Management and a former senior official at the U.S. Energy Department.

Maduro has accused the USA and Guaido of attempting to engineer a coup d'etat.

The Kremlin considers the sanctions against PDVSA as "illegal", a sign of "unfair competition" and an attempt to interfere with Venezuela's internal affairs, Peskov said on Tuesday.

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