US Slaps Further Sanctions On Venezuelan Oil Tankers

A supporter of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro performs dressed like US character 'Uncle Sam' during a march against the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) in Caracas, on December 3, 2019. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
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News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Dec. 4, 2019: The US Treasury Department on Tuesday announced sanctions on six oil tankers owned by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in a bid to step up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

“Cuba and the former Maduro regime continue trying to circumvent sanctions by changing the names of vessels and facilitating the movement of oil from Venezuela to Cuba,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich. “The United States will continue to take necessary action to protect the people of Venezuela.”

action further targets the former Maduro regime’s corruption in the oil sector and the mechanisms used to transport oil to the Cuban regime in return for security and intelligence assistance, which is one of the  remaining sources of support for the illegitimate former Maduro regime in Venezuela.  It also shows Maduro’s priorities – providing cut-rate crude oil to the Cuban dictatorship, while people in Venezuela go hungry.

The following vessels are all PdVSA crude oil/products tankers that have recently delivered Venezuelan petroleum products to Cuba:

  • Icaro (IMO 9038842)
  • Luisa Caceres de Arismendi (IMO 9117578)
  • Manuela Saenz (IMO 9117492)
  • Paramaconi (IMO 9543512)
  • Terepaima (IMO 9552496)
  • Yare (IMO 9543500)

The US said Venezuela and Cuba facilitated the movement of PdVSA oil from Venezuela to Cuba and skirted US sanctions by changing the names of vessels. 

” In the fall of 2019, Cuban officials were aware of the departure from Venezuela to Cuba of various vessels loaded with Venezuelan oil.  These vessels included the Esperanza, Luisa Caceres De Arismendi, Manuela Saenz, Paramaconi, Terepaima and Yare,” the Treasury Department said. ” During this same time period, PdVSA invoiced Cubametales, the Cuban state-run oil import and export company, for roughly 1.3 million barrels of fuel oil delivered earlier in the summer of 2019. On July 3, 2019, OFAC designated Cubametales, pursuant to E.O. 13850, as amended, for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy.  The vessels used to ship the oil were the Yare, Esperanza, Terepaima, and Icaro.  The money received from the shipments was to be transferred into a Russian bank account.”

Washington had already adopted a series of sanctions to press for the resignation of Maduro, a temporary handover of power to opposition leader Juan Guaido and fresh elections. Maduro won a second term in a controversial election last year and has presided over a massive economic crisis.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Latin American countries and the US were meanwhile meeting in Bogota to consider new measures against Venezuela.

In September, the Organization of American States (OAS) decided to activate the TIAR to consider action against Venezuela after it launched military exercises near the Colombian border.