While the Nicolás Maduro regime has increased gas prices for all Venezuelans, it continues to send millions of barrels of crude oil to Cuba, for which it does not receive a single dollar.
The news agency Reuters reported that the PDVSA has resumed supplying oil to the island; this year to date, an amount that has totaled 11.74 million barrels (about 49,000 daily), yet only between the months of June and August has totaled 4.19 million barrels. All this is in the middle of the worst economic outlook that PDVSA has faced, with oil production at historic lows.
With the arrival of Chavismo to power in Venezuela, Cuba has depended financially on the South American country, which has covered up to 70% of its fuel needs.
While Venezuelans live with an unprecedented and recurring shortage of food and medicines, and an economic crisis punctuated by the highest inflation in the world and the lowest wages in the region, Maduro gave away between June and August, nearly USD $250 million in petroleum products.
Maduro has repeatedly and unconvincingly argued that a supposed “economic war” does not allow him to buy medicines for the population of his country, at the same time that he acquires Russian crude to fulfill his commitments with the Cuban regime.
On Tuesday June 26, it became known that the Maduro regime was using tankers flying under a Russian flag to send shipments to Cuba. Venezuela is in arrears with so many foreign creditors, that its shipments could be seized if they are flying under a Venezuelan flag.
While hundreds of Venezuelans die due to the shortage of medicines, and thousands of others pick through trash in search of food ,due to the economic crisis, the Maduro regime invents excuses to justify why the population continues to be plunged into misery.
Cuba snatched a refinery from Venezuela
Although Maduro continues to send oil to the island, fulfilling its commitment to the socialist alliance, it must be remembered that in December 2017, Cuba took full possession of the Camilo Cienfuegos refinery and took control of the lucrative shares previously owned by the Venezuelan state oil company; this was after the Venezuelan government failed to meet a payment schedule.
The Camilo Cienfuegos Refinery was a joint venture formed in April 2006 between the state-owned Caribbean company Cuvenpetrol SA and Venezuela’s PDVSA, as a result of the agreements signed within the framework of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).
Production at historic lows
Reports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reveal that oil production in Venezuela fell in August to an average of 1.23 million barrels per day (mbd), 2.8% less than in July. It is the lowest figure since the late 1980s.
In addition, Venezuela is scheduled to close three of its largest refineries due to shortages of crude oil and personnel. This would have been an unimaginable situation two decades ago, when PDVSA was the envy of the region, a corporation rated as the best in Latin America.
PDVSA is the company that contributed most to the growth of the Venezuelan economy. Today it is the company that contributes most to the impoverishment of this country.
According to the economist José Toro Hardy, who until 1999 was a member of PDVSA’s board of directors, that closure of refineries would lead to a much greater fall in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “There will be more gasoline shortages and more unemployment and shortages of foreign currency will be generated,” he told the PanAm Post.
Venezuela should be producing more than five million barrels a day; however, after an era of abandonment, embezzlement, and massive corruption, it currently produces a little more than a million; which is an insufficient amount to cover its massive foreign debts.
And the question remains. Why is Maduro showering the Cuban dictatorship with free oil, while his own people starve?