WASHINGTON DC, USA, Tuesday May 2, 2017 – The Venezuelan government may not have enough money to ensure sufficient food, medicine and other necessities for its people, but it found the cash to donate US$500,000 to US President Donald Trump’s inauguration fund.
While foreign donations are banned under US law, recently released records show that Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA made the donation through its US affiliate, Citgo Petrol, soon after offering a nearly 50 percent stake in Citgo to Russian oil giant Rosneft as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan.
Citgo Petrol was one of the biggest corporate donors to the swearing-in ceremony, ranking with the likes of JP Morgan Chase and Exxon.
The transactions came at a time when PDVSA and the Nicolas Maduro government were desperate for cash as oil revenues continued to shrink and civil unrest grew. The influx of money from Rosneft is said to be helping keep PDVSA and Maduro afloat.
According to a report in The Guardian, if Venezuela defaults on the debt, Rosneft could stand to gain a controlling stake in Citgo, a prospect that has caused anxiety among both Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress.
Under current circumstances, however, Rosneft could not take ownership of its shares in Citgo – which owns three refineries, as well as pipelines and oil terminals – because the Russian firm and its boss, Igor Sechin, are under US sanctions linked to Moscow’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
Meanwhile, the donation revelation comes amidst a series of violent demonstrations in Venezuela which have so far claimed almost 30 lives and injured many more.
Anti-government protestors argue that the country’s economic woes have led to yet further deaths as citizens grapple with escalating food, water and medical shortages, and inflation skyrocketing to around 800 percent.
The opposition blames Maduro’s socialist government for its failure to return the country to stability and accuses him of undermining the country’s democracy.