By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Tareck El Aissami, the economic Vice President for the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela, said that the U.S. government is "making fuel production impossible" for the still regime-controlled state oil firm PDVSA due to its "naval blockade" of the country’s shores.
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the military’s Southern Command to dispatch warships, spy planes, attack helicopters and even ground troops two days earlier, in the largest known effort in the history of the Western Hemisphere to interdict drug trafficking originating out of Venezuela.
No sightings of U.S. warships have been as yet reported, however, local media and maritime web pages report at least one US combat ship, the “USS Detroit”, was stationed in international waters near Venezuela.
El Aissami has for several years been a “Specially Designated National” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury tied to drug-trafficking and with assets (including a private jet and Miami condo) seized, but last year he was criminally charged and included on the U.S. wanted list.
According to the regime official, the main objective of Donald Trump's administration is to aggravate the shortage of gasoline in the country through the alleged naval blockade, while he insisted that the "threatening" actions of the United States prevent the purchase of medicines and raw materials for the production of fuel.
"A special fuel supply plan has been activated to guarantee the mobility of priority sectors within the framework of the State of Alarm decreed by President Nicolas Maduro to counteract the coronavirus pandemic and which are excluded from the collective forty," reads part of the statement read by El Aissami.
Maduro needs no help from Trump in making an already very bad situation into a much worse one. Just as inflation became hyperinflation in 2017, oil production in Venezuela has been declining since January 1999, when Maduro’s mentor and predecessor, failed coupster Hugo Chavez, took over. Nowadays, Venezuela is said to be producing some 600,000 barrels a day, a far cry from the 3.5 million b/d it was producing when Chavez came to power.
A serious decline in refining took place at the same time, with oil industry chamber “Camara Petrolera de Venezuela” telling reporters weeks ago that only 20% of Venezuela’s once mighty refining capacity of 1.3 million barrels a day-plus was available. Venezuela had at one point more than a dozen refineries in country and around the world.