U.S. Blacklists Six Tankers for Carrying Venezuelan Oil
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury blacklisted another six vessels for connections to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, which is sanctioned for its role in supporting the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“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.”
According to the U.S. government, Venezuela trades oil to Cuba in exchange for security and intelligence assistance, which helps Maduro to remain in power despite active sanctions, a collapsing economy and popular opposition.
The PDVSA tankers added to the sanctions list Tuesday include the Icaro (IMO 9038842), Luisa Caceres de Arismendi (IMO 9117578), Manuela Saenz (IMO 9117492), Paramaconi (IMO 9543512), Terepaima (IMO 9552496) and Yare (IMO 9543500). All departed Venezuela for Cuba in the fall to deliver oil for the sanctioned Cuban trading firm Cubametales, according to Treasury. The money received from the shipments was to be transferred into a Russian bank account.
Treasury also updated the sanctions listing for the previously-designated tanker Nedas, which has been renamed the Esperanza (IMO 9289166).
The United States favors Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, who seeks the removal of Maduro and a new presidential election. However, Guaido's movement has lost momentum and his approval rating has fallen since he launched protests against the current government ten months ago. According to polling results released Wednesday, popular support for Guaido now sits at about 10 percent, roughly on par with support for Maduro. Among other factors, a corruption scandal involving nine lawmakers within Guaido's opposition coalition is taking a toll on the movement's public standing, and a large majority of Venezuelans believe that opposition politicians are secretly dealing with Maduro's government on the side.