Venezuela national flag and oil rig

Oil Company Blamed for Venezuela’s ‘Tragic Decline’

It’s a story that started with Chavez in the late ‘90s and seems to be finally coming to a head as Venezuela feels the repercussions of its failed dalliance with extreme socialism.

The United States has placed sanctions on the state-owned Venezuelan oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), making the case that PDVSA is partly responsible for the country’s ‘tragic decline’.

According to the US Treasury, the company ‘has long been a vehicle for corruption,’ pointing to schemes designed to embezzle billions of dollars ‘for the personal gain of corrupt Venezuelan officials and businessmen.’

PDVSA sends 41% of its oil to the US and remains in the top four crude oil suppliers to the US, it is a primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency.

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Countries denounce Maduro as president

At a White House press conference on Monday, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters the action was meant to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

Mnuchin said:

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.

National Security Adviser John Bolton joined Mnuchin at the briefing and was also seen with a notepad apparently saying ‘5,000 troops to Colombia.

Whether this was intentional or not remains to be seen.

Bolton noted that more than 20 other countries have moved to no longer recognise Maduro as president.

Currently, Russia, China, Mexico and Turkey have publicly thrown their support behind Mr Maduro.

Not exactly an all-star line-up when it comes to issues of legitimacy.

Bolton said the Venezuelan people, ‘have had enough of oppression and economic hardship.

Assembly to take over Venezuelan assets

Meanwhile, Guaido announced he had ordered the Venezuelan congress to start the process of naming new boards of directors to PDVSA and US refining subsidiary Citgo, DPA reports.

Guaido said in a statement that the assembly will also gradually take control over Venezuelan assets abroad and ensure transparency in the use of state resources.

Guaido’s aim is to prevent President Nicolas Maduro and his associates from continuing ‘to steal the money of Venezuelans.

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Lachlann Tierney
Lachlann Tierney is a writer for The Australian Tribune. He has a background in politics, public policy and has studied at London School of Economics. Lachlann is interested in small government, tertiary education matters and energy policy.
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