Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday he will legally challenge the sanctions announced by the United States against Venezuelan state oil assets, on the same day the head of National Assembly Juan Guaido, who wants Maduro to step down, said he is naming new boards for PDVSA and Citgo. File Photo by Venezuelan government/EPA EFE
Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Venezuela's President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, who last week swore in as interim president in defiance of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, will name new directors for the boards at state oil company PDVSA and its United States subsidiary Citgo.
The Venezuelan interim government is working alongside the National Assembly to "guarantee the biggest transparency and control" and it will now "start the process to name the boards of directors of PDVSA and Citgo to allow the recovery of our industry that is going now through a dark moment," said Guaido.
To those that "today work with these companies abroad, I want you to known, just like I have guaranteed respect to those working in consulates and embassies, I extend an invitation today to continue working to relaunch" the companies, he added in a statement.
Guaido, already recognized as the legitimate Venezuelan leader by countries including the United States, Canada, Israel and several Latin American nations, said the decision is part of "taking progressive and orderly control of the assets of our Republic abroad" to "speed up the political transition."
"We've previously denounced the international corruption of PDVSA and how it was turned into a network to finance corruption," he added.
Guaido's statement was published just after the United States announced sanctions against PDVSA, adding also that the company "has long been a vehicle for embezzlement." The sanctions aim to move control of the country's oil revenue from Maduro to Guaido.
The official website of the Venezuela government led by Maduro, who is recognized as president by nations including Russia and Mexico, put out a press release Monday saying Maduro will within the next hours take "legal, operative, technical and commercial" actions in response to the United States.
"The want to steal Citgo from us. I have given instructions to start political and legal actions before the world and U.S. courts to defend the property and wealth of Citgo," Maduro said.
Citgo is a United States oil downstream company with roots going back to 1910. Venezuela's PDVSA bought a 50 percent stake in Citgo in 1986. Then in 1990 PDVSA bought the entire company as part of a move to have a fuel refining and retail operations in the United States.
Venezuelan state oil PDVSA is suffering from declining output that has resulted from mismanagement. Production in December was 1.15 million barrels per day, down from 1.9 million barrels per day in 2017 due to lack of payments to suppliers and unqualified management and personnel.
Venezuelan officials associated with the government of Maduro have been sentenced for corruption that allowed them to purchase real estate and other assets outside Venezuela.
On November 27 the former Venezuelan treasurer Alejandro Andrade was sentenced to a decade in prison for laundering $1 billion in bribe money.
Earlier this month the United States sanctioned several Venezuelan individuals close to Maduro's government over corruption.
Guaido has said he is working under Venezuelan laws to re-establish democracy in the government. His main obstacle is the country's top military, which supports Maduro.
Several countries and organizations have asked Maduro to call new elections, because his reelection in May of last year was in a vote with a historic low turnout where nearly all the opposition did not participate, claiming it was not a fair process.
Venezuela is mired in a political and economic crisis that has pushed some three million people out of the country in recent years.