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Venezuela asks EU ambassador to leave within 72 hours



Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Monday asked the head of the European Union (EU) mission in Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, to leave the country within 72 hours, after the bloc released sanctions against 11 Venezuelan officials.

“We will sort it out in 72 hours… she will be given a plane to leave, but we will arrange our things with the European Union,” said Maduro.

However, Venezuela’s airspace is currently closed to commercial airplanes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the officials sanctioned is the opposition legislator Luis Parra, who is contesting the leadership of the National Assembly controlled by the opposition and Maduro’s main challenger Juan Guaido.

Relations between Venezuela and the EU have been tense since 2017, when the latter launched sanctions against the former, including an arms embargo.


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Close ally of Venezuela’s Maduro tests positive for Coronavirus





Cabello, a close political ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, has tested positive for COVID-19, the official said on Thursday.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19, since that time I have isolated and following the advised treatment,” Cabello, the leader of the Venezuelan socialist party and Maduro’s right hand man, tweeted.

Zulia state Governor Omar Prieto also tested positive for the disease, Maduro confirmed on Thursday calling the state leader “a warrior.”

Venezuela has confirmed 8,010 novel coronavirus infections and 75 deaths, but the real figure is believed to be considerably higher.

“The virus exists, it can reach anyone, you have to take care of yourself. Let’s take care of ourselves,” Maduro said in a televised statement, warning that the disease “is not a game.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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COVID-19: Venezuela envoy tasks govts on border management to curb spike



Ambassador of Venezuela to Nigeria, David Caraballo has advised governments to strengthen their border patrols to prevent illegal entry into their countries without undergoing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) test and protocols.

Caraballo, who made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja, said it would curb spread of the virus.

He attributed 80 per cent of the COVID-19 spike in Venezuela to illegal entry to the country.

The Ambassador made the call as most countries have started making moves to reopen their borders and economies.

According to him, some people will smuggle themselves into countries to avoid going through the necessary COVID-19 preventive protocols of testing, 14 days quarantine and self isolation.

Caraballo said that Venezuela has effectively managed the pandemic with strong health institution: conducting free testing and treatment, using technology to manage cases and collect data.

He added that Venezuela was able to contain the virus from spreading exponentially and the figure increased when over 60,000 citizens returned home and some failed to adhere to the rules.

“More than 80 per cent of the cases were imported from people who came in from Colombia, Brazil, from other countries and not community infections.

“We have tightened the borders to prevent the entering of the disease and this action is very important.

“Now, we have a little problem in some specific areas because some persons will use irregular routes into the country to avoid isolation, quarantine and then go further to spread the disease to communities.

“We are working to solve this problem, though it is not easy because we share a very long border with Colombia and Brazil.

“We are working with China, Russia, Iran, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and different institutions to boost our capacity to attend to the situation.

“Cuba is a strong solidarity and with the medical team they have sent to other part of the world even to address the Ebola situation,” the envoy said.

Caraballo said that individual taking responsibility was, however, the key to ending the pandemic when they comply to hand washing, wearing face masks, social distancing and isolation when necessary.

“If the people have the responsibility and the government have the capacity, we work together with WHO, we can share experiences and compare action.

“We established total lockdown when we had just 11 cases. It was a call by President Nicolas Maduro for the people to have the initiative to respect the lockdown.

“We had 70 days with less than 1,000 cases when people came in, more than 60,000 and did not comply, unfortunately some people did not respect the quarantine and that increased the cases,” he said.

The envoy said that until the cure or vaccine to COVID-19 becomes successful, everyone should protect themselves and obey the preventive protocols as the new normal.

He noted that the Venezuelan government would support China and other allies who are moving to develop  vaccine and cure for the Coronavirus.

He also commended the WHO for its leading efforts in tackling the pandemic.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Venezuela says effective multilateral, bilateral relations helped overcome U.S sanctions – Ambassador



Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, David Caraballo

Venezuela says effective multilateral, bilateral relations helped overcome U.S sanctions – Ambassador


Abuja, July 1, 2020 Ambassador of Venezuela to Nigeria, David Caraballo says the country has gained economic stability through effective multilateral and bilateral collaborations, despite the economic sanctions of the United states of America.

Caraballo made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , on Wednesday in Abuja, where he listed the achievements of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ahead commemoration of its 209th Independence on July 5.

The Ambassador described the economic sanction of the U.S on Venezuela as an attack on her Independence, sovereignty, human rights of Venezuelans and multilateralism.

Caraballo, however, noted that Venezuela has been able to maintain a stable economy with effective multilateral collaborations and support from some organisations of the United Nations and, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

He added that bilateral ties with countries like China, Russia and Iran have also helped in sustaining Venezuela’s economy and social protection of its citizens.

According to him, this is a very important year in Venezuela because July 5 is our national day, our independence day after a very strong war of liberation and in this moment, we have different challenges.

“Different situation that has been promoted by the International coercive measures imposed by the United States government against Venezuela and also with this special situation in the world, the COVID-19 in this situation.

“The President, Nicolas Maduro and the national government are working very strong to attend to the different problems against the people of Venezuela.

“In this occasion, this first six months of 2020, we have had different attacks against the people, some military actions, some paramilitary actions against the Venezuela security 2 months ago.

“Some measures promoted by different countries like Brazil and Columbia against the democracy and stability of Venezuela.

“We can talk about the successes like the increasing bilateral cooperation with Russia, Iran, China. Iran helped Venezuela some weeks ago to attend to the situation in the gasoline and the refineries capacity to work.

“Because under the sanction, the coercive economic measures we lost different capacities and different funds in some countries in the world.

“This is one important goal in this moment, we have a stronger cooperation, capacities of bilateral relations, multilateral relations with different countries, different organisations like OPEC, the United Nations.

“When we prepare all the activities of the national independence, we stand on our decision to be independent, without any foreign intervention in our internal affairs, this is one issue at the international level,”Caraballo said.

The Ambassador  further said that the economic sanction against Venezuela did not stop the country from its social protection responsibility to citizens, stating that Venezuelans enjoy free health care, education and basic amenities.

Caraballo said that another very milestone achievement of President Nicolas Maduro is the step taken to solve the internal political situation and promoting the peace of the country through dialogue.

“We hope that the parties of the political opposition, who honoured the call of President Nicolas Maduro to organise the national dialogue would have the commitments to promote the democracy.

“The political solution of our differences and to promote the peace solution in different areas in the country.

“This is very important because some small sector of the extremist, who promote violence, military intervention from USA, from Columbia and other countries are separate from the real life in Venezuela.

“We are a strong and resilient people despite the economic measure of our democracy and national development,” he said.

Caraballo said that Venezuela was also moving to conduct a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections observing the COVID-19 guidelines.

The envoy added that the opposition has only been a tool in the hands of those who do not respect the sovereignty of Venezuela and the human rights of the people.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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EU foreign policy chief condemns Venezuela’s expulsion of ambassador



The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, on Tuesday condemned Venezuela’s expulsion of the EU’s ambassador from the county.

The expulsion of the ambassador is a move the Venezuelan president had taken in response to sanctions issued against individuals from the South American country.

The European Council had on Monday added 11 Venezuelans to the sanctions list for “undermining democracy and rule of law,” bringing the total to 36.

The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes.

In response, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a few hours later ordered the EU ambassador to Caracas to leave the country within 72 hours.

The European Commission’s foreign affairs office swiftly threatened additional measures.

“We condemn and reject the expulsion of our ambassador in Caracas.

“We will take the usual necessary measures of reciprocity,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.

The sanctioned individuals are accused of unduly stripping parliamentary immunity of several of its members, including its president Juan Guaido.

The EU considers Guaido the legitimate head of the National Assembly in spite of a Venezuelan Supreme Court decision earlier this month confirming government ally Luis Parra as holding the post instead.

Guaido was elected parliament speaker in January 2019 and was subsequently recognized by about 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Iranian minister says continuation of gasoline exports to Venezuela depends on negotiations




Iran‘s minister of petroleum said on Friday that the continuation of Iran’s gasoline exports to Venezuela depends on the negotiations between the two countries, official IRNA news agency reported.

Referring to the recent sale of five tankers of fuel to the Latin American country, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said that Iran has sold gasoline to Venezuela at market price.

Iran has received part of the money for the exports, and Venezuela has provided necessary guarantees for paying the balance, said the Iranian minister.

As for the United States sanctions on five Iranian captains who shipped gasoline to Venezuela, Zanganeh said “first, they (Americans) tried to bribe them,” but when the captains rejected their offer, the United States administration sanctioned them.

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains who had delivered oil to Venezuela.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Thursday condemned the fresh sanctions against the captains, saying that such embargoes prove the “failure” of United States administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against the Islamic republic.


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United States sanctions Iranian tanker captains for assistance to Venezuela




The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against five Iranian tanker captains who helped transport Iranian gasoline to Venezuela.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the five captains delivered approximately 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline and related components to Venezuela.

“As a result of today’s sanctions, these captains’ assets will be blocked,” said the statement, warning individuals and entities against dealing with Iran and Venezuela.

An Iranian-flagged cargo ship Golsan docked in the Venezuelan port of La Guaira on Monday, according to media reports.

Five Iranian fuel tankers arrived at Venezuela shores last month. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said early this month that Iran is ready to send more fuel shipments to Venezuela if there is a request.


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Oil tankers carrying two months of Venezuelan output stuck at sea



Tankers carrying nearly two months worth of Venezuelan oil output are stuck at sea as global refiners shun the nation’s crude to avoid falling foul of United States sanctions, according to industry sources, PDVSA documents and shipping data.

Washington is tightening sanctions to cut Venezuela’s oil exports and deprive the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro of its main source of revenue.

The OPEC member’s exports are hovering near their lowest levels in more than 70 years and the economy has collapsed, but Maduro has held on – to the frustration of the administration of United States President Donald Trump.

Washington has blacklisted ships and merchants this month for their role in trading and transporting state-run PDVSA’s oil and threatened to add more to its list of sanctioned entities.

At least 16 tankers carrying 18.1 million barrels of Venezuelan oil are stuck at sea around the globe as buyers shun them to avoid falling foul of sanctions, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

That is the equivalent of almost two months of output at Venezuela’s current production rate.

Some of the vessels have been at sea for more than six months, and have sailed to several ports but failed to unload.

Oil cargoes are rarely loaded onto a tanker without a buyer.

Those that are on the water with no buyers are generally seen as distressed in the industry and typically sold at a discount.

Each tanker is incurring hefty demurrage charges for every day’s delay in unloading.

The cost for a vessel transporting Venezuelan oil is at least $30,000 per day, according to a shipping source.

“This is our third attempt to find a buyer,” said an executive from an oil company registered as PDVSA customer, which took a cargo of Venezuelan heavy crude in January and has been unable to sell it due to the possibility of sanctions.

The cargo has accumulated demurrage fees in Africa for over 120 days, the executive said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Even PDVSA’s long-standing customers are struggling to complete transactions that are permitted under sanctions- for debt payment or food swaps, the executive added.

Buyers are concerned about sanctions even for those cargoes.

The Panama-flagged MT Kelly is one of the vessels stuck at sea.

It sailed for Turkey in April with no charterer disclosed by PDVSA at its monthly loading schedule.

The vessel entered the Mediterranean only to turn around, sail back through the Strait of Gibraltar and steam around the coast of Africa, according to the data.

PDVSA, Venezuela’s oil ministry and Greece-based Altomare SA, commercial manager of the MT Kelly, did not reply to requests for comment.

Most of the other tankers set sail for Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia or Togo, where they typically transfer their oil to other vessels at sea, sometimes disguising their origin before they are shipped to a refiner.

The vessels have not discharged, but some have switched off the transponders that broadcast their position, according to the Eikon data.

Six of the vessels anchored off Malaysia are managed by Greece-based Eurotankers Inc and have been waiting for up to four months to discharge, according to the Eikon data.

Eurotankers did not reply to a request for comment.

Mexico’s Libre Abordo, which along with related firm Schlager Business Group, chartered three of the stranded cargoes according to the PDVSA documents, declined to comment.

The companies were blacklisted by the United States Treasury Department last week along with their owners for trading Venezuelan oil through a pact described by the firms as an oil-for-food agreement.

Amsterdam-based GPB Global Resources, which chartered two other cargoes, declined to comment on the vessels, but said the company and its subsidiaries “are conducting business in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations, including United States sanctions”.

Hong-Kong based Richeart International, in charge of another four shipments, could not be reached for comment.

The plight of Venezuela’s exports comes as most oil producing nations continue struggling to allocate high inventories in an over-supplied market, which has diminished many buyers’ appetite for risky oil such as Iranian and Venezuelan crude.

The threat of tighter United States sanctions is also disrupting the global shipping market.

Since late May, at least six tankers that were sailing toward Venezuela or waiting to load for exports have been diverted as the United States considers blacklisting more vessels and shipping firms over alleged sanction violations.

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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France denies harbouring Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido in Caracas



France denied on Friday that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had taken refuge at any of its diplomatic sites in Caracas after the Venezuelan foreign minister said he was hiding in the French Embassy.

“Mr Juan Guaido is not at the French residence in Caracas.

“We have repeatedly confirmed this to the Venezuelan authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

A French diplomatic source clarified that Guaido was not in any French sites in the South American country.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told Union Radio on Thursday that Guaido was in the French embassy and also accused Spain of harbouring Leopoldo Lopez, another opponent of the government.

“It is shameful for Spanish diplomacy. It is shameful for the diplomacy of France what has happened, and they will pay the price very, very soon,” Arreaza said.

France in May summoned Venezuela’s envoy over accusations that President Nicolas Maduro’s government had been harassing its embassy in Caracas, including by cutting water and electricity to the ambassador’s residence.

France is among dozens of countries that do not recognise Maduro’s disputed 2018 re-election and consider Guaido to be Venezuela’s rightful president.

Maduro has previously accused French Ambassador Romain Nadal of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

Von der Muhll, the French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, added: “Only a democratic path with free, transparent, and credible elections will enable it (political crisis) to be resolved in the long-term and put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Venezuelan foreign minister confirms Guaido hiding in French Embassy, extradition expected



Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza confirmed on Friday, reports that opposition leader Juan Guaido is hiding at the French embassy in Caracas, saying that the Latin American country is awaiting his extradition.

Arreaza’s remarks come after President Nicolas Maduro hinted that Guaido was “hiding from justice,” sparking talks that the latter might be sheltering at a diplomatic location.

“We hope that these governments (of Spain, France) will act properly, comply with the legislation of the hosting country — in this case, Venezuela — and transfer fugitives from justice into the hands of Venezuelan justice,” Arreaza said in an interview to Union Radio.

The foreign minister stressed that Leopoldo Lopez, another leading opposition figure, had been hiding at the Spanish embassy for more than a year.

Arreaza said that Lopez supervised Guaido and masterminded Operation Gideon, which was aimed at overthrowing Maduro. 

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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