The United States ended sanctions against an Italian shipping company that agreed to stop transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba, highlighting the benefits of cooperation to limit Nicolás Maduro’s plundering of the country’s natural resources.
The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on July 3 lifted sanctions against PB Tankers, based in Rome, according to a statement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The move came after the company terminated its contract with Cuba’s state-run oil company, Cubametales, and ensured its vessels are not complicit in propping up the former Maduro regime.
“Treasury’s decision to remove restrictions on PB Tankers and unblock previously sanctioned vessels is a reminder that positive changes in behavior can result in the lifting of sanctions,” Mnuchin said.
“Clinging to Cuba”
Mnuchin noted that Maduro is selling off Venezuela’s natural resources in exchange for Cuban support of his illegitimate regime. “Maduro is clinging to Cuba to stay in power, buying military and intelligence operatives in exchange for oil,” he said.
The United States imposed sanctions against PB Tankers on April 12 following the company’s shipment of Venezuelan oil products to Cuba. Under the former Maduro regime, Venezuela earns billions of dollars a year in oil revenues, yet 9 out of 10 Venezuelans live in poverty.
On July 3, the Treasury Department also sanctioned Havana-based Cubametales, which imports Venezuelan oil. As a result, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from providing services to Cubametales, and its property possessed or controlled by U.S. persons is blocked.
In January, the United States sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), in an effort to preserve Venezuela’s oil for its people.
“Every drop of Venezuelan oil shipped to Cuba is traded for additional security and intelligence officers and other personnel, which further robs and impoverishes a once-rich nation, denies Venezuelan sovereignty, and prolongs the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” the State Department said in a July 3 statement.