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U.S. presses India to stop buying oil from Venezuela’s Maduro

Public Policy

The United States is pressing India to stop buying oil from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government, Washington’s top envoy for Venezuela said, as the Trump administration this week threatened more U.S. sanctions to cut off Maduro’s financial lifelines.

FILE PHOTO: An oil pumpjack painted with the colors of the Venezuelan flag is seen in Lagunillas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia/File Photo

“We say you should not be helping this regime. You should be on the side of the Venezuelan people,” Elliott Abrams told Reuters in an interview.

The Trump administration has given the same message to other governments, Abrams said, and has made a similar argument to foreign banks and companies doing business with Maduro.

Abrams described the U.S. approach as “arguing, cajoling, urging.”

The talks with India come as the United States and its regional allies, who back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, threaten more sanctions to cut off revenue streams to Maduro’s government and force him to step down.

Washington views Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and has imposed sanctions on the country’s oil sector and announced asset freezes and visa bans targeting top government officials.

The Indian market is crucial for Venezuela’s economy because it has historically been the second-largest cash-paying customer for the OPEC country’s crude, behind the United States, which through sanctions against Maduro has handed control of much of that revenue to Guaido.

Washington wants India to do the same.

Oil shipments to China, another major importer of Venezuelan oil, do not generate cash because they go to pay off billions of dollars in loans made to Caracas by Beijing.

The talks over Venezuela come as trade tensions rise between Washington and New Delhi, and when the United States is also pushing India to cease buying Iranian oil.

The United States is planning to end preferential trade treatment for India that allows duty-free entry for up to $5.6 billion worth of its exports to the United States.


U.S. sanctions typically block American firms from doing business with specific foreign governments or companies.

Any move by the United States to prevent purchases of Venezuelan crude would be part of a strategy known as “secondary sanctions,” in which Washington applies penalties to companies not based in the United States.

That strategy, and even the threat of using it, was vital in Washington’s pressure campaign to cut off revenue to Iran, which eventually helped force Tehran to negotiate a nuclear deal with six world powers in 2015.

But it has drawn criticism from some foreign governments that argue that the United States should not be able to force its policy decisions on firms in other countries.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton this week put foreign banks “on notice” that they risked U.S. sanctions for hiding Venezuelan assets.

“If that leads to people to cooperate voluntarily, we’re glad,” Abrams said.

Asked whether India had agreed to stop buying oil from Maduro’s government, Abrams said: “I don’t want to characterize the discussions, which continue.”

United States diplomat Elliott Abrams speaks during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council called to vote on a U.S. draft resolution calling for free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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

Abrams said there were no signs that Maduro is open to negotiations to end the political impasse with Guaido, emphasizing that any talks would need to be reached among Venezuelans.


Manuel Quevedo, Venezuela’s oil minister, attended a conference in New Delhi in mid-February seeking to “double” the country’s crude exports to India while boosting Venezuelan imports of Indian refined products. He also said he was open to barter payments.

But Venezuela’s exports to India remained relatively stable in the month since the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA , meaning shipments were not nearly enough to make up for the fall in U.S. sales.

Venezuela directly exported 297,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude to India in February, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, which does not include barrels first shipped to other ports such as Singapore or Rotterdam. India imported 342,000 bpd of Venezuelan crude in January, and an average of 340,000 bpd last year.

That was well off the more than 400,000 bpd India used to import, on average, and not nearly enough to make up for the drop in U.S. imports to 104,800 bpd in February from more than 500,000 bpd before the sanctions hit.

India is also being pressured by lawmakers from both major U.S. parties. Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted on Feb. 13 that Indian refiner Reliance Petroleum’s purchases of Venezuelan oil would undermine Guaido’s “legitimate government” and “lead to calls for secondary sanctions on Reliance.”

Albio Sires, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, wrote to India’s ambassador in Washington on Feb. 12 expressing concern about what Sires called Venezuela’s “attempts to work around U.S. efforts to hold Maduro accountable and approach one of our strongest partners in the process.”

Venezuelan oil made up just 4.2 percent of India’s total imports in January, data show. Venezuela is also not a top foreign policy priority for India, as it is for other major buyers like Russia, said Moises Rendon of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“The U.S. has enough leverage to get India to pull away the relationship with Venezuela,” Rendon said. “That’s why the U.S. role here is key.”


26 Comments on "U.S. presses India to stop buying oil from Venezuela’s Maduro"

  1. dave thompson on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 1:13 pm 

    Sanctions imposed on sovereign nations? I thought the US was all about the open and free market of capitalism. Gee I must be naive.

  2. Richard Guenette on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 1:54 pm 

    All countries should look after their own people:
    1.Get rid of corruption (on both the left and the right).
    2. Reduce poverty and unemployment by creating sustainable jobs.
    3.Reduce property and income taxes by 50% or more.
    4.Allow hard-working people to save up for their retirement.
    5. Ban tax havens.

  3. Richard Guenette on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 2:37 pm 

    6. Respect national sovereignty and common law.
    7.Allow for freedom of speech and individual freedom.

  4. Richard Guenette on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 2:38 pm 

    I’m neither liberal nor conservative.

  5. Richard Guenette on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 2:48 pm 

    The government is unnecessary and should be abolished. Ordinary people are the masters of their own destiny, not the state.

  6. dissident on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 2:55 pm 

    Yet more bot-generated MSM propaganda. They make it sound like Maduro is personally selling the oil as if he owns it. BS.

    When America succeeds at installing its stooge and keeping the poor masses down, then it will be a fact that Venezuela’s oil will be sold by oligarchs who stole it from the Venezuelan people. That is how the USA likes its oil, with a nice layer of blood. Pay attention to the Saudi suppliers. A bloody terrorism exporting theocratic toilet gets to to sell oil without any sanctions.

  7. makati1 on Wed, 13th Mar 2019 6:14 pm 

    I agree with the above six comments. The article is totally misleading but then it comes from the blood covered reuters. The US continues to drive away it’s old allies. It is speeding up its own isolation. India is working with China, Russia and Iran to build its own country. The power has moved East. All the US can do these days is threaten. A paper tiger run by the multi-nationals and Israel.

  8. TheNationalist on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 8:54 am 

    India must politely say, gofukyaselves!

  9. Antius on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 1:14 pm 

    One of Millimob’s tribe caught with his hand in the cookie jar again. How embarrassing. Maybe no one will notice who he is; oops! I just did!

    Looks like he’s gotten a famous Shiksa into trouble too.

  10. Robert Inget on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 1:40 pm 

    MPs have voted by 412 to 202 to delay Brexit beyond March.

    The UK is scheduled to leave in just two weeks, but the decision by parliament means May will now request an Article 50 extension of at least three months.

    The prime minister could request a significantly longer delay to Brexit if MPs reject her deal for a third time next week.
    All other 27 EU member states would have to agree to an Article 50 extension.

  11. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 1:46 pm 

    >>> to delay Brexit

    Cowards. I always thought the british were brave and freedom loving. Who would submit themselves to the bloated EU bureaucrats?

  12. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 2:07 pm 

    “Cowards. I always thought the british were brave and freedom loving. Who would submit themselves to the bloated EU bureaucrats?”


  13. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 2:16 pm

    Yes. It’s no news that the Swiss prefer money over moral integrity and heritage. They practically bend over backward for “ECONOMIC GROWTH”. Pathetic. They even import 3rd world sludge to provide the GROWING economy with workers and consumers. Can you imagine? Who would be so stupid as to import sludge just for the love of money? Yes the swiss are.

  14. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 2:29 pm 

    Why are you so negative about the EU? We are in the middle of a massive shift to the right.

  15. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 2:43 pm 

    >>> We are in the middle of a massive shift to the right.

    1. yes, but it won’t solve the fundamental problem of demographics. A shrinking population will be replaced by sludge, because the economy must GROW at any price even when we have to sell out our identity.

    2. the future belongs to the young, not to me and not to you. And young people growing up with half of their class room full of sludge are used to it to the point of calling it normal. “Sludge in Switzerland? Yes, that’s what Switzerland is. It was like that when I grew up. What’s the problem?”, they will say.

  16. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 2:45 pm 

    Ever noticed that half of a european soccer team is sludge? Ever noticed any of the young fans being bothered by this? Sludge in europe is normal with the young. And give it another 20 to 40 years for the old guys to die out, and sludge will be permanent.

  17. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 2:57 pm 

    And while we’re at it Clog ever noticed how national TV (at least in Switzerland and Germany) subtle presses a pro-immigration, good-immigrant, bad-native stance? This is especially apparent on shows for children. Brainwashing starts early. And also I recommend a excursion to one of your local schools where young children are indoctrinated with political correctness and the value of sludge, which is said to be higher than their own. Because after all (as you know). The european (white) is the world’s villain.

  18. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 3:02 pm 

    They only thing that could rapidly change the sentiment is a severe depression to the point of food scarcity. That would quickly change peoples opinion regarding importing sludge. But that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as you agree with all your positive and EU being the next super power world view.

  19. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 3:10 pm 

    “And while we’re at it Clog ever noticed how national TV (at least in Switzerland and Germany) subtle presses a pro-immigration, good-immigrant, bad-native stance? ”

    I’m watching die Kroatienkrimi on the ARD. I already know who did it: the racist policeman.

  20. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 4:59 pm 

    >> I’m watching die Kroatienkrimi on the ARD.

    Exactly. Show me the one Tatort where the negro/kanacke or other sludge is the bad guy.

    Pathetic europeans. They deserve what they are getting.

  21. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 5:24 pm 

    “Pathetic europeans. They deserve what they are getting.”

    Too pessimistic, the system is walking on its last legs. The West is approaching a 1989 of its own. What we see with Trump, populists, yellow vests… is the western equivalent of Perestrojka, Solidarnosc. In a couple of years the US empire, the originator of the disaster, will disintegrate, the country fall apart, just like the USSR and the nightmare is over.

  22. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 5:28 pm 

    Thanks Clog for your optimism. I need some of that. Keep it up. I hope you’r right.

  23. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 6:09 pm 

    I realize this is getting redundant, but I must alert all.
    I’m so sorry readers for losing my shit this morning. I realize it’s not too difficult to figure out I routinely engage in identity theft and deploy multiple sock puppets.
    Why? I am sick.

  24. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 6:41 pm 

    It’s old news, but still funny.
    Google had to stop its animal identification software on photos because it frequently identified negros for gorillas.

    Even a computer can’t be fooled, but yet they indoctrinate kids in western schools to accept negros as equals. Pathetic.

  25. Hello on Thu, 14th Mar 2019 6:43 pm 

    Clog, did you see the latest youth TV program in Germany on ZDF? It shows 2 native kids, a negro import and a raghead import all hugging each other.

    A rag head? A negro? There’s no pride left in the west.

  26. Cloggie on Fri, 15th Mar 2019 12:44 am 

    Hoppa! Nieuw-Zeelanders hitting back!

    “Up to 30 dead as Australian white supremacist, 28, opens fire in Christchurch mosque and livestreams the slaughter as cars loaded with bombs are found and a woman and three men are arrested”

    This will soon happen all over the white world.
    The Soviet empire came down quietly.
    The western downfall is going to be a bloodbath.

    Question to mobster: don’t they have a synagoge in Christchurch?

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