Trump regime threatens sanctions on nations buying Venezuelan oil

Last month, John Bolton warned world community nations about dealing with the Bolivarian Republic, saying, “Nations and firms that support Maduro’s theft of Venezuelan resources [sic] will not be forgotten. The United States will continue to use all of its powers to preserve the Venezuelan people’s assets [sic], and we encourage [sic] all nations to work together to do the same.”

During a Security Council session on Venezuela, Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum to the world community, saying:

“The time is now to support the Venezuelan people [sic], to recognize the new democratic government [sic] led by interim (usurper) president Guaido [sic], and end this nightmare. No excuses,” adding, “And now it’s time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom [sic] or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem [sic].”

“Do not test the United States on our resolve to” assert that what we say goes. US pressure and bullying tactics are well known.

Pre-Trump regime coup plot to eliminate Bolivarian democracy, Venezuela’s main export destinations were the US, China, India, Singapore and Spain.

China and India remain its main crude and refined oil buyers. Beijing is weighing its options, continuing its oil purchases from Venezuela, maintaining ties to Maduro, wanting its multi-billion dollar investments and unpaid debt in the country protected no matter what the future holds.

Reportedly it’s working on how to deal with Guaido if the Trump regime coup plot succeeds—while strongly opposing what’s going on, saying that switching allegiance to him publicly is out of the question.

In late January, the Trump regime imposed illegal sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, seizing $7 billion of its assets.

Revenues from the state-owned US subsidiary CITGO are now illegally held in a blocked account, unavailable to Maduro’s legitimate government and the Venezuelan people.

Sanctioning PDVSA greatly upped the stakes, making the struggle to preserve Venezuela’s sovereign independence, free from US control, all the harder.

The Bolivarian Republic relies on oil exports for the vast majority of its revenues. Barrels sold to foreign buyers are around one-third their 2016 volume.

The Trump regime also blocked naphtha exports to Venezuela, used to dilute its heavy oil, hampering its export volume if unavailable. Russia vowed to ship vitally needed naphtha to the Bolivarian Republic, defying the Trump regime.

US point man for regime change in Venezuela Elliott Abrams pressed India to stop buying Venezuelan oil. In response, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said New Delhi intends maintaining normal relations with the Bolivarian Republic, including continued purchases of its oil.

In mid-February, Venezuela’s Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said his government seeks to “double” its crude oil exports to India while increasing imports of its refined products.

Last week, the Trump regime announced it’s ending its preferential tax-free trade agreement with India, Trump saying in a letter to Congress the following: “I am providing notice of my intent to terminate the designation of India as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program,” adding, “I am taking this step because, after intensive engagement between the United States and the Government of India, I have determined that India has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.”

His order is largely about pressuring New Delhi to sever ties with Maduro, other issues secondary. In the first two weeks of February, India increased oil imports from Venezuela by about 66% despite Bolton warning that nations maintaining normal relations with country “will not be forgotten.”

India also contracted to buy Russian S-400 air defense missiles, defying Trump regime pressure not to, risking possible sanctions.

The Modi government is a key buyer of Iranian oil, increasingly bypassing the dollar in foreign trade transactions. Russian S-400s will be paid for in rubles, Iranian oil purchases in rupees.

According to Indian political analyst Sreeram Chaulia, New Delhi “want[s] our American partners to understand that we have our own interests and our own will, and we are not like some banana republic that can be pushed around.”

“I think Prime Minister Modi and our government [will] put India first. If China is buying from Venezuela, if South Korea and Japan are buying from Venezuela, why can’t we?”

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia intends defending its interests in Venezuela, using “all available” mechanisms “within the framework of existing international law.”

According to Kremlin envoy to Venezuela Vladimir Zaemsky, Russia intends protecting its investments in Venezuela “in the toughest [legal] way” possible if they’re threatened.

It’s countering “unprecedented US pressure on Europe” to block completion of Moscow’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, wanting Russia squeezed out of the EU gas market in favor of more expensive US liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Moscow intends strengthening relations with the Bolivarian Republic, he added. Sergey Lavrov said Russia supports “measures taken by Nicolas Maduro’s government to prevent further destabilization.”

He “condemned the threats the US has made toward the country’s lawful leadership, which is an overt interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and a severe violation of the international law.”

Separately, US-designated puppet Guaido said he “called for an extraordinary session in the National Assembly (Monday), to request, in [his] capacity as president [sic], to decree a state of national emergency…”

In 2016, Venezuela’s Supreme Court the ruled all National Assembly actions “null and void” for illegally seating three lawmakers suspected of being fraudulently elected.

Guaido’s call for declaring a national emergency will be ignored whatever the opposition-controlled National Assembly does.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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