By Eva Golinger
Postcards from the Revolution
May 26, 2011
Venezuela’s government strongly rejected the Obama administration’s attempt to sanction its state-owned oil industry, PDVSA, and interrupt its relations with other nations. Latin American nations and groups worldwide have expressed support for Venezuela’s defiant stance
“Sanctions against the homeland of Bolivar? Imposed by the US imperialist government”, declared Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Twitter this Tuesday (@chavezcandanga), “Bring it on, Mr. Obama. Do not forget that we are the children of Bolivar”, he exclaimed, reminding his more than one and a half million followers on the social network that “the true impact of this latest US aggression is the strengthening of our nationalistic and patriotic morale in Venezuela!”
On Tuesday morning, the US State Department, announced it was imposing unilateral sanctions against seven international companies, including Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). This decision marks the first time the US government has taken direct hostile action against the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, which is one of the largest oil companies in the world.
According to State Department releases, the sanctions fall under the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) of 1996, as amended by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA) of 2010, for alleged “activities in support of Iran’s energy sector”. In the case of Venezuela, the State Department claims PDVSA “violated” the US legislation by “selling at least two cargoes of reformate to Iran between December 2010 and March 2011”. Reformate is a blending component that improves the quality of gasoline, which somehow, the US government alleges, can help enable Iran to make nuclear bombs.
The State Department clarified that in the case of PDVSA, the sanctions “prohibit the company from competing for US government procurement contracts, from securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from obtaining US export licenses”. The US sanctions do not affect Venezuela’s supply of oil to the United States, as clearly the Obama administration would not want to directly affect its own interests. Nor do the sanctions apply to PDVSA subsidiaries, such as CITGO, a US corporation owned by PDVSA which has seven oil refineries and over 10,000 gas stations throughout the United States.