Venezuela shifts oil ventures’ accounts to Russia’s Gazprombank — document, sources

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech in Caracas on February 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Venezuela shifts oil ventures’ accounts to Russia’s Gazprombank — document, sources

  • The joint ventures foreign partners include Norway’s Equinor ASA, US-based Chevron Corp. and France’s Total SA

CARACAS: CARACAS: Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA is telling customers of its oil joint ventures to deposit sales proceeds at an account it recently opened at Russia’s Gazprombank AO, according to sources and an internal document seen by Reuters on Saturday.
PDVSA’s move follows tough, new US financial sanctions imposed on Jan. 28 and aimed at blocking leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s access to the country’s oil revenue. The United States and dozens of other nations have refused to recognize Maduro, characterizing his election last year to another six-year term as fraudulent.
Since then, PDVSA has been pressing its foreign partners at joint ventures in its Orinoco Belt producing area to formally decide whether they will continue in the projects, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks. The joint ventures’ partners include Norway’s Equinor ASA, US-based Chevron Corp. and France’s Total SA.
PDVSA also ordered its Petrocedeno joint venture with Equinor and Total to halt extra-heavy oil output and upgrading due to a lack of naphtha needed to dilute production, as sanctions prohibited US suppliers of the fuel from exporting it to Venezuela.
“We would like to make formal your knowledge of new banking instructions to make payments in US dollars or euros,” said PDVSA’s finance vice president, Fernando De Quintal, in a letter dated Feb. 8 to the PDVSA unit that supervises its joint ventures.
Even after a first round of financial sanctions in 2017, PDVSA’s joint ventures managed to keep bank accounts in the United States and Europe to receive oil-sales proceeds. They also used correspondent banks in the United States and some European nations to move money to PDVSA’s own collecting accounts in China.
PDVSA several weeks ago informed customers of the new bank directions and has begun moving the accounts of its joint ventures, which can export crude separately. The decision was made amid tension with some of its partners, which have withdrawn staff from Caracas since sanctions were imposed. 


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.