By Carlos Camacho in Caracas.
After weeks of rumors triggered by the latest round of sanctions, Arreaza published a series of tweets Tuesday stating that, indeed, the media had it right, and that some tankers were turning back, leaving cargoes of Venezuelan crude on the docks, only miles away from the Venezuelan shores.
“More evidence of Washington’s criminal assault. They attack the heart of the Venezuelan economy to prevent the country from receiving income to import food, medicines, treatments, inputs. And they do so amid a pandemic. An attack against all Venezuelans,” Arreaza wrote.
Venezuelan oil production declining since the Bolivarian Revolution of Maduro, and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who began to rule in 1999. Production fells down from 3.5 million oil barrels to some 600,000 per day, even though chavism received more than $1 trillion since 1999.
The country can’t even produce gasoline, despite having six refineries, and had to import it from Iran, as no oil company in the Western Hemisphere is willing to sell it any fuel.
Besides, Maduro has been running into more troubles to sell what little oil his administration still produces: earlier this year Russian oil company Rosneft quit the country, and transferred its Venezuelan assets to a newly created fund controlled directly by Moscow, to evade strict sanctions that Washington imposed on the Russian company.
The decline in oil production and prices has placed Maduro and his ailing regime in dire straits indeed: hyperinflation and the first default ever in Venezuelan sovereign debt are just two of the other characteristics in an unprecedented economic crisis in the oil-rich nation.
Maduro is the most heavily sanctioned head of state in Venezuelan history since 1902, when Great Britain, Germany, and Italy blocked Venezuelan shores with warships to get strongman, Cipriano Castro, to pay back some loans. British and German sailors came ashore and overtook the docks, but a full war averted with the intercession of the United States, which brokered a deal under which Venezuela would pay its debts.
The socialist leader has been sanctioned by the U.S. and several other countries and has a bounty of $15 million on his head for narco-terrorism. First Lady and Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores and his son from a previous union, Nicolasito Maduro Guerra, have also been sanctioned, as well as other members of the inner circle.