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Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela is paying Iran in gold for help with Venezuela’s crumbling oil industry, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said at a conversation with Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute this week.
Over the past few weeks, Iran has been sending more and more planes to Venezuela, Abrams said.
“Our guess is that they are being paid in gold,” he said, referring to the payment for Iran, at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
“Those planes that are coming in from Iran that are bringing things for the oil industry are returning with the payments for those things: gold,” Abrams said.
In April alone, Venezuela loaded 9 tons of gold, worth around US$500 million, on airplanes for Iran, in exchange for Iranian help for repairing Venezuela’s crumbling refineries, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg this week.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also mentioned the Iranian-Venezuelan cooperation, saying, “We are deeply concerned about Iran’s destabilizing behavior in Venezuela- over the last few days, Iranian aircraft have transferred unknown support to the regime.”
“Over the last few days, multiple aircraft belonging to Mahan Air have transferred unknown support to the Maduro regime. Birds of a feather. This is the same terrorist airline that Iran uses to move weapons and fighters around the Middle East. These flights must stop, and countries should do their part to deny overflights, just as many have already denied landing rights to this sanctioned airline,” Secretary Pompeo said at a press conference earlier this week.
The U.S. has stepped up pressure on the Maduro regime in recent months, the latest being ordering U.S. supermajor Chevron to wind down its Venezuelan operations by the end of the year. Halliburton has also said it will suspend most of its operations in Venezuela, after Washington tightened the noose around Caracas by banning U.S. oil companies operating in the country from drilling for oil, transporting it, or providing any equipment for use in Venezuela.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is twisting the facts when he depicts Iranian help as a destabilizing behaviour in Venezuela when it is the intrusive US sanctions that are the destabilizing behaviour.
What Venezuela needs is a lot of foreign investment in its oil industry but this will not be forthcoming without a rapprochement with the United States. The only way this could happen is after a regime change. America is after Venezuela’s spectacular oil wealth.
Despite the sanctions, the United States has failed to effect a regime change in Venezuela. It is better for President Trump to withdraw his puppet Juan Guaidó back to America.
While extremely critical of the corruption and bureaucracy that pervade the government, the Venezuelan people still express the willingness to rise up against the perceived threat of “Yankee imperialism”. After all, it was the Bolivarian revolution that liberated countries of South America from Spanish oppression.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London