Venezuela names official indicted by U.S. as Oil Minister

Key appointment: A file photo of Tareck El Aissami, left, and Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela.

Key appointment: A file photo of Tareck El Aissami, left, and Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela.   | Photo Credit: Ricardo Mazalan

El Aissami is on the fugitives list on drug trafficking charges

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday named a top official targeted by U.S. sanctions as Oil Minister as the market for the country’s vital export is in tumult.

Also read: Comment | A failed coup in Venezuela

Mr. Maduro tasked Tareck El Aissami — a Vice-President for the economy who has been indicted in the U.S. on drugs trafficking charges — with “restructuring and reorganization” of the OPEC member’s crippled oil industry.

Mr. Maduro also named Asdrubal Chavez, cousin of the late President Hugo Chavez, as interim President of the state oil firm PDVSA.

The U.S. in 2017 designated El Aissami as having played “a significant role in international narcotics trafficking” and placed him on a most-wanted fugitives list in August last year.

“In his previous positions, he oversaw or partially owned narcotics shipments of more than 1,000 kg from Venezuela on multiple occasions, including those with the final destinations of Mexico and the United States,” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) said on its website.

Mr. El Aissami declared his innocence and said the move was “a dirty trick.”

The U.S. has been seeking for more than a year to oust Mr. Maduro. More than 60 countries recognises opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim President.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed support for Mr. Guaido in a telephone call on Monday. The two discussed a new U.S.-proposed “framework” that calls for both Mr. Guaido and Mr. Maduro to step aside temporarily for a transitional government that would hold fresh elections.

The U.S. has tried either to persuade nations, including Russia and India, from buying Venezuelan oil. Although the South American country has the world’s largest oil reserves, the oil sector suffers from corruption and lack of investment.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:03:55 AM |

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