Macri supports full U.S. oil embargo against Venezuela: report

Argentine President Mauricio Macri voiced his absolute support for tougher U.S. economic sanctions on Venezuela, including a full ban on oil imports, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

According to the report, citing an interview late Tuesday, Macri believes the move would have broad support across Latin America. The official was the first regional leader to openly advocate such a tough step.

“I think we should go to a full oil embargo,” Macri was quoted as saying. “Things have gotten worse and worse. Now, it’s really a painful situation. Poverty is going up every day, sanitary conditions are getting worse every day.”

Earlier this year, U.S. President Trump imposed a number of financial sanctions on Venezuela and members of its government, but stopped shy of prohibiting flows of oil to and from both countries, Kallanish Energy notes.

Such a measure is expected to hurt not only the Venezuelan economy and worsen its social crisis, but also affect the U.S. refining industry which relies on heavy crude from Caracas. U.S. imports of Venezuela oil had been running at roughly 800,000 barrels a day (BPD) last year.

Senator Bill Nelson from Florida wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging him to impose tougher sanctions on the Venezuelan regime.

“(State-owned oil company) PDVSA should be a source of wealth for the Venezuelan people, but because of the corruption of the socialist government and years of mismanagement, it has become a source of cash for Maduro and his cronies to line their pockets,” Nelson wrote. “I encourage you to seek the support of our European allies in imposing both targeted and sectoral sanctions on the Venezuelan regime, too.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said last week the country plans to restructure some $60 billion of bonds, much of it held by PDVSA, as the country struggles to meet debt repayments.