CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered on Thursday “all external payments” of the country to be refinanced and restructured, although he said that he will liquidate the $1.121 billion Caracas must pay to holders of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) bonds issued by the state-run oil company.
“I have ordered that on Friday morning, Nov. 3, the payment of the PDVSA 2017 Bond will be initiated, but after this payment, starting today, I decree a refinancing and restructuring of the foreign debt and all Venezuela’s payments,” said Maduro in a statement all media outlets were required to carry.
The head of state named a special commission headed by Vice President Tareck El Aissami to begin the process “and the fight against the blockade and foreign persecution” against the country.
Maduro promised “a complete reform of this year’s payments to achieve an equilibrium and cover the country’s needs,” making the move amid a serious scarcity crisis that economists say was caused by the freezing of imports to accumulate foreign currency with which to pay the country’s foreign debt.
The Chavista leader denounced alleged discriminatory treatment of Venezuela by international banks and other financial institutions and blamed sanctions levied by the US on Caracas for the difficulties Venezuela has had accessing credit.
“I had a bond already ready, legal, with which we were going to obtain between $3.5 billion and $5 billion two months ago and (US President) Donald Trump, at the request of (Venezuelan Parliament chief) Julio Borges, vetoed that bond,” declared Maduro, referring to the opposition figure who in the past has asked that the Venezuelan government not be allowed to receive financing.
The US financial sanctions were implemented in August by the Trump administration to punish the alleged totalitarian drift by the government in Caracas.
“If Venezuela wants to refinance one of its bonds, it is prohibited by the global financial dictatorship,” Maduro said.
“But they will never suffocate us. We will never surrender to the US empire,” he added, going on to criticize Colombia for allegedly blocking a shipment of medicine to Venezuela after pressure from Washington.
Venezuela and PDVSA have to pay bondholders more than $3.5 billion in capital and interest in October and November, and Caracas managed to make the first of several payments – totaling $800 million – on time.