Venezuela will not stop shipping crude oil to its political ally Cuba despite U.S. sanctions, the country’s foreign minister said as quoted by Reuters.
“When the conventional power of capitalism attacks you, you have to know how to respond through non-conventional means, always respecting international law,” Jorge Arreaza said.
The official’s statement follows the imposition of more sanctions by Washington on Caracas. This time the sanctions targeted 34 tankers owned or operated by PDVSA along with another vessel and two companies involved in shipments of Venezuelan oil to Cuba.
Washington is calling the oil deal between Venezuela and Cuba “oil for oppression”.
Cuba is heavily reliant on subsidized Venezuelan oil shipments, which is why Washington is apparently trying to hit two birds with one stone by stopping these shipments. The leader of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaido, last month ordered the suspension of these deliveries, but PDVSA’s management is still loyal to the Maduro government, so the order had more of a symbolic significance than anything else.
The Venezuelan crisis has already forced Cuba to adjust its energy sources, and the country increased its imports from Russia and also last year signed a contract for more oil product deliveries from Algeria, another long-term partner.
Yet Venezuelan oil and oil products have continued to play an important role in Cuba’s energy supply, not least because it has been, from a certain perspective, free. The two have a barter deal; Cuba sends highly trained doctors and other personnel to Venezuela in exchange for the barrels.
According to Reuters shipping data, the latest cargo of Venezuelan oil products to Cuba left the port of Jose last Thursday: liquefied petroleum gas. In the second half of March, Reuters added, four tankers—two loaded with crude and two with oil products—left Venezuela for Cuba.