Venezuela’s problems pile up as the Russians now suspend PDVSA accounts

AS POLITICAL and economic uncertainty continues to wreak havoc in Venezuela, the Russian stock Gazprombank has now decided to suspend accounts held by PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-run oil company.

The Russians have also stopped the transactions with the company as it wants to abstain from falling under US sanctions, as reported by a Reuters news report on Sunday.

The news report quoted a source from within the Russian lender. This comes after another news report last week by the Wall Street Journal that claimed a meeting between Chinese officials and Venezuelan envoys of the self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido. The report was immediately dismissed by Chinese officials and was labeled as “fake news.”

Gazprombank has yet to publicly comment on these allegations.

Venezuela is currently on a knife-edge as President Nicholas Maduro refuses to step down from high office, while Congress leader Guaido has declared himself the acting interim president. This comes after Maduro was accused of forging elections results.

The international community is currently divided with support for each candidate. Russia and China are still in Maduro’s corner while the US is behind Guaido.

The two groundbreaking reports that emerged this week, however, could signal a serious turn of the tide in Venezuela, as countries supporting Maduro’s administration are spearheaded by Russia and China, whose pull out from the ranks of Maduro would end the future prospects of the embattled government.

The US announced all properties owned by Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA and are subject to US jurisdiction, will be blocked, and all U.S. citizens are prohibited from trading with them since last month.

Days after the announcement of sanctions, national security advisor John Bolton urged influential players in the business sector to not do business with the embattled nation.

The US has since ramped up its pressure on Maduro, with President Donald Trump suggesting military intervention as an option to end the Venezuela crisis. He made the announcement two weeks ago.

During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, however, Democratic lawmakers rejected a possible US military intervention in Venezuela as an option.

Nonetheless, military action is still technically possible, as Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in America on Friday to acquire funds for the border wall he pledged to erect during his campaign demonstrates the president’s willingness to circumvent the Congress to implement his own agenda.

Currently, the US military aircraft are carrying food and medicine to the Colombian border, in a bid to aid Venezuelan children who are reportedly suffering from malnutrition.

On Tuesday, Guaido said the humanitarian aid provided by the international community will be entering the country on February 23.

Maduro has criticized the help, labeling it as a US-orchestrated charade to oust his socialist government and said the aid will not be allowed into the country.

Maduro’s pledge to block the humanitarian aid from entering the country might further escalate the already towering tension in Venezuela.

“We are going to have the accompaniment of people, of hundreds of thousands, of millions of Venezuelans, that our president Guaido has called upon, whom we have asked to go to the border dressed in white as a sign of peace,” Lester Toledo, a Guaido representative, said at a news conference in in the Colombian border city of Cucuta.

It is unclear whether the gathering of citizens to receive the aid will have any effect on the Maduro promise, given his stubborn stance on the issue.

An unknown Turkish firm helped Maduro move $900 million out of country in gold

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