15 March 2019 — Countercurrents
While Venezuela fully restored electricity supply and near-fully restored water supply, the country faces economic war by imperialism with increasing intensity.
A Reuters report said:
India’s Reliance Industries Ltd, operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, said on Wednesday it had halted supply of diluents to Venezuela’s national oil company PdVSA and would not resume such sales until sanctions were lifted.
Washington is preparing to impose “very significant” Venezuela-related sanctions against financial institutions in the coming days, U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams said on Tuesday.
PdVSA was importing about 100,000 bpd of naphtha, mostly from the U.S. to dilute up to 400,000 bpd of extra heavy oil and make it exportable.
Reliance’s Houston-based subsidiary was supplying diluents to Venezuela.
Reliance, an Indian conglomerate controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has significant exposure to the financial system of the U.S., where it operates some subsidiaries that are linked to its oil and telecom businesses among others.
Reliance has not increased oil purchases from Venezuela, the company said in response to a Reuters email seeking comment.
In 2012 Reliance, Venezuela’s key oil client, signed a 15-year deal to buy between 300,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of heavy oil from PdVSA.
Ship tracking data obtained by Reuters showed that Reliance averages purchase from Venezuela were below 300,000 bpd in 2018 and in January this year.
“Our U.S. subsidiary has completely stopped all business with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PdVSA, and its global parent has not increased crude purchases,” it said.
“Since the U.S. government imposed sanctions on the government of Venezuela in late January 2019, Reliance Industries Ltd has been in close contact with representatives from the U.S. State Department to ensure full compliance,” Reliance said.
The Indian market is crucial for Venezuela’s economy because it has historically been the second-largest cash-paying customer for the OPEC country’s crude, behind the United States.
“We will continue a constructive dialogue with the U.S. government to ensure Reliance remains in compliance,” it said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Monday and discussed India’s purchases of oil from the Maduro-led government.
“We are asking the same thing of India as we are of every country: do not be the economic lifeline for the Maduro regime,” Pompeo said.
100% of electricity supply resumed
Jorge Rodríguez, the Venezuelan Vice President of Communication, reported that the potable water service has been restored in 80 percent of the country.
Venezuela will resume work activities on Thursday after the restitution of 100 percent of the electricity system in the country, said Jorge Rodríguez.
“Problems remain with transformers that have been sabotaged, as in Baruta and El Hatillo on Sunday; the service has been restored in 60 percent of those areas,” explained the head of communication, adding that school activities are suspended for another 24 hours.
The communication minister noted that the redistribution of drinking water has reached 90% overall and 70% in Caracas, before adding that water trucks are on standby to meet the shortfall until service is completely restored.
The distribution of this service was affected by the cyber attack to the electrical system, due to the fact that it is mostly executed by pumping.
Caracas Metro, other lines running
A Prensa Latina report said:
Venezuela’s transportation lines, including the Caracas Metro, are scheduled to be up and running Thursday following the sabotage of the national electric power grid.
Jorge Rodriguez, confirmed that that the majority of the lines of the public and private sectors would be activated.
A Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) cited Cesar Vega, president of Metro de Caracas, on Wednesday:
“We have been monitoring the system to verify the conditions on the railways. So at this moment, we are at 90% progress to start our service.”
The Caracas Metro, which services some three million people across the capital of Venezuela, was among those rendered incapacitated due to a strategic attack on the country’s electricity system.
According to the head of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello, President Nicolas Maduro have given the go ahead for the resumption of operations of the metros and railways in Caracas, Los Teques, Maracaibo and Valencia.
Surface transport units from Zona Rental, in Plaza Venezuela, to Propatria, Petare, Caricuao and La Rinconada initially served as parallel back up for the Metro routes to Lines 1, 2 and 3.
“We have created a route system with the Metrobus units, totally free, so that they can transfer our users,” explained Vega.
The decision came after tests were carried out on the National Electric System, which was reported by Vega, who noted successful lighting tunnels and escalators test.
China offers help to restore power
The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday, during a press conference, that his government stands ready to provide assistance and technical support to restore power in Venezuela.
“Reports say that this accident was caused by cyber attacks on Venezuela’s power grid. The Chinese side is concerned over this and hopes that the Venezuelan side will identify the cause and restore normal power supply and social order as soon as possible,” the Chinese government official said.
China’s offer comes as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated Tuesday that his government will ask support from the UN, and countries with experience in similar attacks such as China, Russia, Iran, and Cuba, adding that a special Committee will form to investigate the sabotage to the Guri hydroelectric plant which will incorporate a team of international experts.
U.S. warns Venezuela not to arrest Guaido
After pulling all remaining American diplomats from Venezuela on Thursday, the Trump administration warned Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro that any pressure on Juan Guaido, the self-declared “interim president” who has the White House’s support, would be met with an “immediate reaction”.
But it remained unclear what that would mean. The administration issued the threat in the midst of a diplomatic retreat that has cast doubt on the U.S’s ability to reinforce Guaido if Venezuela government moved to arrest him on accusations of orchestrating a days-long electricity outage.
“We hold former President Maduro and those surrounding him fully responsible for the safety and welfare of interim president Juan Guaidó and his family,” Robert Palladino, a State Department spokesman, said on Thursday. “It would be a terrible mistake for the illegitimate Maduro regime to arrest Juan Guaidó.”
This week, the State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans not to travel to Venezuela, and said that the United States would not be providing any consular services.
Palladino said on Thursday that the Trump administration had revoked over 600 visas of Venezuelans, including those belonging to more than 100 people the administration says were diplomats or otherwise close to Maduro.
Administration officials have also hinted at broadening sanctions against Maduro’s government. A senior administration official said on Thursday that Washington was considering imposing new financial penalties on credit card companies, including Visa and Mastercard, to stop them from processing transactions within Venezuela.
“Policy is going to continue to support democracy in Venezuela,” Mr. Palladino said, without bringing up the possibility of military intervention, a tactic Trump administration officials have previously identified as an option, albeit a distant one.
US must consider military action in Venezuela: Former Clinton aide
Doug Schoen, former White House adviser to President Clinton, on why the U.S. should take military action in Venezuela.
Doug Schoen, a former White House adviser to president Clinton, told FOX Business’ Trish Regan Opens a New Window. that the time is coming for America to use force to restore order in Venezuela.
“We need to seriously consider a military intervention,” he said on Wednesday. “Ideally a multi-national one with substantial participation by Latin American nations.”
“This is a humanitarian crisis of the worst order. The Russians, the Cubans, the Chinese are all propping up Maduro. People are dying,” he said, adding that a peaceful transition may never be obtainable.
“We cannot let this go on. Sanctions may well not be enough.”
Venezuela’s FM rejects Pompeo’s statements as interventionist
A Prensa Latina report said:
Venezuela”s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has dismissed as interventionist Mike Pompeo”s statements issued by the White House on its official Twitter account.
Arreaza termed as cynical Pompeo’s message to the Venezuelan people.
The US ‘blockades our economy, threatens us with the use of force, attacks our services, pressures companies and governments to not do business or cooperate with Venezuela; it steals assets and resources of our people, and then he comes out with this’, the FM twitted.
On Thursday, Pompeo reiterated the Trump administration’s intention to move so-called humanitarian shipments into Venezuela, an action Caracas warns it is a facade for an intervention.
The US official stressed Washington will continue to work with Brazil and Colombia to bring about a regime change in Venezuela.
Venezuela leads fight against narcotics while US, Colombia part of ‘Vicious Cycle’ of drug trade
Jorge Arreaza said in a speech at the UN: “Drug trafficking is a source of accumulation and generation of wealth, which is full of blood and an inherent part of the capitalist system.”
The Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs said the country is implementing methods to grapple with narcotics sales and consumptions, denouncing Colombia and the United States as responsible for the damages caused by drugs in the Americas at the United Nations Commission of Narcotics in Vienna, Austria, Thursday.
During his speech at the U.N.’s 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Arreaza said that Venezuela implements a comprehensive development model that allows for reducing the risk factors associated with the illegal consumption of illicit substances, and ratified that the country is not a route for drug trafficking.
“Venezuela has promoted more than 580,000 activities carried out since 2009 aimed at communities, schools, children, and prisoners,” said the chancellor.
In his speech, the minister denounced that drugs produced in the neighboring country of Colombia end up “in the blood, the neurons, and the graves of young Americans,” and that, despite the fact that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acts “as watchman” in the country.
“How does this happen? How can the drug that is produced in Colombia and reaches the U.S. be released without being detected by the security systems of the most powerful country on this planet?” Arreaza asked. “How can institutions and states not be involved in this vicious circle?”
The Foreign Minister affirmed that more than 90 percent of the drugs seized in the United States comes from Colombia.
Arreaza said that the strategy of war on drugs has caused a high cost in Latin America. In some cases, he said it has given way to the installation of U.S. bases in the Latin American region which “seem more a pretext to have troops and territorial control over the region than a policy to combat drug trafficking.”
The Venezuelan representative criticized that in recent years the number of hectares devoted to the cultivation of coca and the production of cocaine in Colombia has reached record levels. He said that some 5,000,000 Colombians have entered Venezuela to flee the violence from drug businesses.
“Without a doubt, drug trafficking is a source of accumulation and generation of wealth, which is full of blood and an inherent part of the capitalist system,” Arreaza said, adding that “the drug trafficking industry is a tool that uses the economic system threatening the future of humanity.”
Venezuela to begin second stage of military exercise
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Wednesday that the second stage of the country’s military maneuvers would begin this weekend.
According to local media reports, the second stage of the large-scale military exercises includes securing the national electric power grids and water supply systems.
“This coming weekend, the military drills dubbed Ana Karina Rote are being resumed at their second stage”, Rodriguez was quoted as saying as aired by state-run broadcaster on Wednesday. The first stage of the drills, dubbed Angostura, was held in mid-February.
The news comes on the heels of an electricity outage that lasted for several days in Venezuela.
Sanction: Visa, MasterCard
The U.S. is considering imposing financial sanctions that could prohibit Visa Inc, Mastercard Inc and other financial institutions from processing transactions in Venezuela, a senior Trump administration official said on Thursday.
The move, which has not been finalized, would represent another step in tightening the financial noose on the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Trump administration has threatened further measures.
The potential financial sanctions are modeled after similar ones imposed by the Trump’s administration on Iran, North Korea, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Russia, the official said.
The sanctions would aim broadly to block state-owned financial institutions’ access to the international financial system, including credit card providers as well as SWIFT, the Belgium-based financial messaging service.
San Francisco Democrats adopt Venezuela stance opposed to Pelosi’s form
In an exclusive report OpEdNews, Tom Gallagher wrote on March 15, 2019:
At its most recent monthly meeting, San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee adopted a resolution on Venezuela diametrically opposed to the stance taken by the city’s top Democrat, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who represents the lion’s share of the city’s voters. The resolution opposed “any military intervention in Venezuela; all covert interference in that nation’s affairs; the use of economic sanctions and assets seizures designed to further immiserate its people; and all further measures designed to impose so-called ‘regime change’ from Washington.”
Pelosi, on the other hand, in a statement remarkable for its similarity to one issued by Donald Trump, explicitly endorsed the U.S. President’s call for regime change.
The second part of the Democratic Committee’s resolution, calling upon the city’s “elected representatives in Congress to vigorously oppose such policies,” would appear, then, to fall on deaf ears in this instance.
While far from the first time that the Committee the Democratic Party’s official voice in San Francisco has been at odds with Pelosi in this realm, the gap yawned particularly broadly this time, as the resolution passed 17-0, with eight abstentions. And only two of those eight came from members actually voted onto the committee, the other six being the proxies of elected officials, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who serve ex officio. No proxies for Pelosi or the city’s other Representative, Jackie Speier, were in attendance.
Interventionist foreign-policy ideas put Pelosi sharply at odds with the bulk of those at the core of that “resistance.”