The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury announced on Tuesday a series of sanctions (illegal under international law) against four shipping companies for doing oil trade with the government of Venezuela.
“The illegitimate regime of (Nicolás) Maduro has had the help of maritime companies and their ships to continue the exploitation of Venezuela’s natural resources for the benefit of the regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, quoted in the statement, not mentioning that US sanctions are suffocating millions of Venezuelans.
The companies that were affected by the new US sanctions are:
- Afranav Maritime LTD, based in the Marshal Islands and owner of the Athens Voyager ship, a Panamanian-flagged ship “that has continued to load oil cargoes from Venezuelan ports until mid-February 2020.”
- Seacomber TLD, based in Greece and owner of the CHIOS I vessel, which also continued to load Venezuelan oil until the end of February 2020.
- Adamant Maritime LTD, based in the Marshall Islands and owner of the vessel SEAHERO, a freighter with the flag of the Bahamas, which also transported Venezuelan crude until February 2020.
- Sanibel Shiptrade LTD, based in the Marshall Islands and owner of the ship VOYAGER I, a ship that loaded oil from Venezuelan ports until the end of April 2020.
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The measures against companies
“US reiterates that the exploitation of Venezuela’s oil assets for the benefit of President Nicolás Maduro’s illegitimate regime is unacceptable, and those who facilitate such activity risk losing access to the US financial system,” the text adds.
As a result of the sanctions announced this Tuesday, all assets and interests owned by these companies that are in US territory or in the possession of US people will be frozen.
Furthermore, any entity that is directly or indirectly owned by 50% or more of the sanctioned companies will also be blocked. Also, the participation of US persons in these companies is prohibited.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notes that these companies have facilitated “the theft of Venezuelan oil by the Maduro regime.”
“These sanctions further isolate the Maduro regime and are another step towards obtaining freedom and prosperity for the people of Venezuela,” he said through his Twitter account.
Lo 1ro que hace @SecPompeo en las mañanas es anunciar otra agresión a Venezuela. OBSESIÓN CRIMINAL. Quiere que los venezolanos se queden sin gasolina, que el Estado no pueda vender petróleo para importar medicinas, tratamientos, alimentos e insumos para producir: LESA HUMANIDAD https://t.co/XZzp4ZZrai
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) June 2, 2020
Given this, from Caracas the Venezuelan foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, described the position of Pompeo and the US government as a “criminal obsession” with Venezuela.
“He wants Venezuelans to run out of gasoline, that the state be unable sell oil to import medicines, treatments, food and supplies for production,” said the minister, describing the measures as “crimes against humanity” and seeking to “suffocate the Venezuelan economy.”
In addition, he commented that “it is not by attacking Venezuela with lies that its fascist and racist elite will succeed in putting out the flames that are burning in front of the White House,” referring to the protests that thousands of people carry out over the death of African-American George Floyd, who died at the hands of the police and had forced Donald Trump to hide in a bunker the night before.
Featured image: Iranian tanker “Fortune” upon arrival at the El Palito refinery, Venezuela, May 25, 2020. Photo: Agencies
Translated by JRE/EF