Venezuela’s Guaido aims at control of PDVSA, Citgo as US imposes sanctions

Venezuela’s Guaido aims at control of PDVSA, Citgo as US imposes sanctions
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders leads U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Security Advisor John Bolton into the press briefing room to announce the Trump administration's economic sanctions against Venezuela and the Venezuelan state owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2019. (Reuters)
Venezuela’s Guaido aims at control of PDVSA, Citgo as US imposes sanctions
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Opposition National Assembly President Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela, prays next to his wife Fabiana Rosales, second from right, during Mass at a church in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday. (AP)
Updated 29 January 2019

Venezuela’s Guaido aims at control of PDVSA, Citgo as US imposes sanctions

Venezuela’s Guaido aims at control of PDVSA, Citgo as US imposes sanctions

CARACAS: Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido ordered congress on Monday to appoint new boards of directors to state oil company PDVSA and US subsidiary Citgo, shortly before the United States imposed sanctions on the firm.
The moves were aimed at intensifying pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, who was re-elected last year in a contest widely seen as fraudulent.
Guaido proclaimed himself president last week, but without a source of revenue or control of the military, he faces difficult odds in assuming the post, despite support across most of the Western Hemisphere.
Guaido, who has not yet appointed a Cabinet, faces the intricate legal challenge of nominating new leadership for PDVSA and its subsidiaries, including Citgo Petroleum, who would manage the companies during a transition.
The White House’s measures to freeze PDVSA’s US assets, including proceeds from oil exports, and limit the company’s transactions are an attempt to largely cut off Maduro’s access to oil revenue that accounts for most of the country’s income in hard currency.
US refineries in the United States can receive Venezuelan oil already paid for and currently at sea, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
“If the people in Venezuela want to continue to sell us oil, as long as the money goes into blocked accounts we will continue to take it. Otherwise, will we not be buying it,” Mnuchin told reporters in Washington on Monday.
US national security adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $7 billion in PDVSA’s assets “plus over $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year.”
It is unclear if Venezuela will continue selling oil to customers in the United States.
Venezuela exports about 500,000 barrels of oil daily to the United States, mostly to Citgo and refineries owned by Valero Energy Corp. and Chevron Corp. The country’s production has dropped in recent years to about 1.4 million barrels a day because of economic mismanagement and lack of investment.
Maduro remains in control of the country because of support from the military, despite massive protests against his government amid an economic crisis that has caused millions to flee the country. Many people are going hungry, while inflation has skyrocketed and left basic goods unaffordable.

’TRYING TO DO SOMETHING’
The sanctions do not prohibit deals between PDVSA and major US oil-companies operating in Venezuela, including Chevron, Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger NV. It does, however, prevent US firms from exporting certain oil products Venezuela needs to blend with its own crude for sale elsewhere.
Attempting to redirect funds to Guaido’s team could give him maneuverability in the short term as appointing new boards at PDVSA and Citgo could take a long time, according to experts.
Frank Holder, the head of Berkeley Research Group’s Latin American practice, said Guaido could face difficulties in appointing a Citgo board against the wishes of its parent.
But Guaido’s team may try a number of things, even if they are unlikely to work, because “politically it shows he is trying to do something, that he has power,” Holder said.
The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela and PDVSA in 2017 that prevented Citgo from repatriating dividends to its parent company. Citgo had about $500 million in cash at the end of September, according to a creditor who spoke to Reuters last week, and $900 million in available credit.
Citgo also faces a July deadline to refinance its revolving credit, a task that could be delayed because of sanctions affecting the subsidiary’s ability to access to credit.


Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park

Updated 02 December 2020

Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park

Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park
  • In 2018, Pygmies began to move onto land inside the perimeter of Kahuzi-Biega National Park and started to cut down trees, mainly to make charcoal
  • According to park authorities, Pygmies have destroyed vast acres of woodland — an act of deforestation that gnaws away at the habitat of endangered gorillas

BUKAVU, DR Congo: Three Pygmies and a soldier were killed in clashes near DR Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, military sources and local officials said Wednesday, as calls grow for protection of the country’s indigenous peoples.
The national park, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday, is a haven for critically endangered gorillas but faces an emerging threat from a conflict between rangers and local Pygmies, who claim they were robbed of ancestral lands when the park was extended in the 1970s.
The central African country’s parliament is currently considering a law to guarantee the rights of Pygmies.
Clashes erupted on Monday in the nearby village of Kabamba in South Kivu province, military sources and the territory’s administrator Thadee Miderho said Wednesday.
In addition to the four killed, others were wounded, they said.
The Pygmies wanted to retrieve bags of charcoal seized by the military, according to Miderho.
In 2018, Pygmies began to move onto land inside the park’s perimeter and started to cut down trees, mainly to make charcoal.
According to park authorities, Pygmies have destroyed vast acres of woodland — an act of deforestation that gnaws away at the gorillas’ habitat.
Their return led to open conflict between Pygmies and rangers in which people on both sides have been killed.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park celebrated 50 years of existence on Monday, priding itself as “a sanctuary and refuge” of eastern lowland gorillas.
Meanwhile a civil society group in the territory of Kabare wrote an open letter to UNESCO asking for it to help “save” the Pygmies.
“Fifty years later, the existence of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park = 50 years of suffering of our Pygmies brothers and sisters,” the group wrote.
In the capital Kinshasa, the National Assembly passed a bill on November 26 for the “protection and promotion of the rights of the indigenous Pygmy peoples,” which will now be considered by the Senate.
“In the Democratic Republic of Congo, unlike other indigenous ethnic groups, the Pygmies have not always received special attention as an indigenous group,” parliament acknowledged in a memorandum.
The proposed law guarantees the recognition of the culture of the Pygmies, easy access to justice and social services, and “full access to the land.”