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  • An oil tanker is seen in the sea outside the Puerto La Cruz oil refinery in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.

    An oil tanker is seen in the sea outside the Puerto La Cruz oil refinery in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 March 2019

A U.S. official has stated that the position from Trump’s administration is to “persuade, urge and argue” for India to stop buying oil from Venezuela.

The United States government “persuades and urges” India to stop buying oil from Venezuela, Washington’s special envoy for the Latin American country, Elliot Abrams stated Sunday. 

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“We say you should not be helping this regime,” Abrams added as President Donald Trump’s administration continues to increase sanctions and interventionist tactics to financially pressure the Venezuelan government.

Actions that come as a response to India's position to continue doing business with Venezuela on the basis of purely economic considerations, despite international pressure. As India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, said Feb. 14 their nation “doesn't have any barter system with Venezuela; commercial considerations and related factors will determine the value of trade which we have with any country."

A sovereign position that is key for Venezuela. The Indian market is a potential lifeline for Venezuela’s economy as it has historically been the second-largest cash-paying customer for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries country’s crude, behind the United States, which through Trump’s sanctions have handed control of the revenue to Juan Guaido, the opposition lawmaker who self-proclaimed as the "interim president" of the country.

Currently, Venezuela exports approximately 366,000 oil barrels per day to India, a figure that the nation’s Oil Minister, Manuel Quevedo, expressed they expect to double in the near future. However, such plans could be stopped by the intervention of the U.S. 

Their tactic, as Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted on Feb. 13, would rely on applying “secondary sanctions” to intimidate countries like India. These involve additional economic restrictions designed to inhibit non-U.S. citizens and companies abroad from doing business with a target of primary U.S. sanctions. A strategy that was crucial in Washington’s campaign to cut off revenue to Iran.

The issue will be discussed on Tuesday during a diplomatic consultation in Washington between the two countries, an Indian official said, adding that India “was very cognizant of the U.S. position” on Venezuela.

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As the discussion continues, U.S. chokehold on the Bolivarian nation’s economy intensifies. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton warned foreign banks and other financial institutions Wednesday that they will face U.S. sanctions for facilitating transactions to and from the Venezuelan government. “If that leads to people to cooperate voluntarily, we’re glad,” Abrams added regarding their overall strategy.

Venezuela's Vice President of Planning, Ricardo Menendez, said Feb. 18 that direct losses to the nation's economy from U.S. financial sanctions are estimated at US$38 billion. Of this total, 23 billion dollars respond to the impact on the Gross Domestic Product, while 15 billion are related to the siege against the company Citgo, a subsidiary of the state oil company Venezuelan Petroleum in U.S. territory, seized at the end of January.


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