Bolton: Some of Maduro’s Generals Have Made Contact With Opposition

Jan 30, 2019, 00:41
Bolton: Some of Maduro’s Generals Have Made Contact With Opposition

It came a day after the Trump administration stepped up pressure on Maduro, announcing sanctions against the country's state-owned oil company PDVSA.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $US7 billion ($9.8 billion) in PDVSA's assets, "plus over $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year".

Venezuela is gripped by raising political instability as USA -backed opposition leader Juan Guaido presses to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

In a major escalation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday handed Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido government bank accounts held in America.

PDVSA responded to the sanctions by ordering customers with tankers waiting to load crude destined for the United States to prepay, according to sources.

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Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the order for Guaido to control holdings in the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and federally insured banks, the State Department said. The alliance can do this by drawing attention to the ICC's preliminary investigation into alleged crimes committed in Venezuela under the Maduro regime, he said.

"The position of the Italian government was very cautious", the diplomat said, adding that the embassy never recognized Guaido as head of state, and so did the country's other diplomatic missions across the world.

PDVSA is also seeking to sidestep the sanctions by asking major buyers, including USA refiners, to renegotiate contracts, sources said.

The Trump administration had long held off targeting Venezuela's oil sector for fear that it would hurt USA refiners and raise oil prices for Americans.

In a defiant national broadcast on Monday night, Maduro said he would take legal action to defend Citgo Petroleum Corp, PDVSA's US refining subsidiary, which he said the United States was trying to steal.

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Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference.

The new USA sanctions could cause problems for Venezuela when it comes to servicing its sovereign debt to Russia, which stands at $3.15 billion, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told reporters on Tuesday.

The Florida Republican represents a large Venezuela expatriate community and is a vocal opponent of the Maduro regime, which the US declared illegitimate last week. He praised US efforts to "support the restoration of democracy in Venezuela" but said "there are more questions than answers about the administration's strategy". That's because Venezuela's oil shipments to China and Russian Federation are usually taken as repayment for billions of dollars in debts.

"Sanctions on Venezuela will lead to the deterioration of conditions of people's lives", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing in Beijing.

The company's subsidiary, Citgo, which is based in the United States, is allowed to continue operations, but its earnings must be placed in a blocked account.

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