Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has asked the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for help as the economic sanctions imposed by the United States are expected to have an impact on the earnings of the state owned oil firm Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA). 

The letter of request was sent to OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo dated Jan. 29, a day after the United States imposed sanctions on PDVSA:

“Our country hopes to receive the solidarity and full support of the member countries of OPEC and its ministerial Conference, in the fight we are currently having against the illegal and arbitrary intrusion of the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

“I seek your firm support and collaboration to jointly denounce and face this shameless dispossession of … important assets of one of the members of OPEC.”

Maduro also suggested that OPEC offer assistance in developing potential solutions or courses of action that should be based on how the economic sanctions can affect the global energy market as well as its effect on other member countries of the organization.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, explained that the economic sanctions on PDVSA were intended to discourage Maduro from diverting Venezuela’s assets from the people and to his pockets:

“The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the Interim President or a subsequent, democratically elected government.”

The sanctions prevent all payments to go directly to PDVSA and buyers of Venezuelan oil are instructed to deposit funds to an account inaccessible to PDVSA.

Currently, the United States along with key European countries and majority of Latin America have recognized Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, while Maduro is supported by Russia, China and Turkey. 

As of this writing, OPEC has not responded formally to Maduro’s request.  Analysts say that OPEC does not get involved in politics. 

Last year, it rejected a request from Iran for a dialogue regarding U.S. sanctions against Tehran.

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