Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, was in Moscow today to hold a meeting with Igor Sechin, the president of the Russian state oil firm Rosneft, and Alexander Novak, Russia’s Energy Minister.
Novak blamed U.S.-driven sanctions against Russia over her invasion of Ukraine as one of the root causes of the free falling oil prices, saying:
United States sanctions against Russia influence the European economy, which has yet to recover and increase its oil consumption (…) [oil prices] have experience an abnormal fall due to speculative elements that seek to bring down the price of crude.
Ramirez said that the falling oil prices have political ramifications for the countries specifically targeted by sanctions:
The fall of crude prices also has political ramifications for countries like Russia and Iran, who are the subjects of sanctions. There’s also overproduction [in the market] fuelled by schist oil from the United States of a million barrels this year.
The Foreign Minister also took the opportunity to announce a new contract between Rosneft and PDVSA, which will see the latter supply approximately 11 million barrels of oil and oil derivatives to Russia over the next five years.
Socialist International Denied Access to Ramo Verde
The Socialist International – a group made of socialist parties from around the world – criticised the Maduro government for refusing them access to Leopoldo Lopez at the Ramo Verde military prison.
In a report posted on their website, the organization explained how its representatives were denied access to Lopez at the prison, with whom they wished to speak. According to the report, prison officials denied the visit due to Lopez being “affected by a disciplinary measure” as a result of banging cutlery against his cell bars.
Special envoy Jose Antonio Viera-Gallo delivered a blunt opinion on the case after being turned away by prison guards:
There is no reason whatsoever to keep Leopoldo López in prison. The charges against him have no legal basis. Neither are there any motives to justify the refusal of visitors.
Viera-Gallo also lamented the fact that while his organization has contacted the Venezuelan government in order to talk about the issue, their calls have gone unanswered.
Capriles Contrasts Maduro, Chavez
During a speech before residents of La Hoyadita, El Hatillo, Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles pointed out the difference between Chavez and Maduro. Capriles said:
To my brothers who voted for the government I say this: Chavez was on thing, but this gentleman in Miraflores [Maduro] is quite another. He appears to be in a race to destroy the country. Now they’re on a campaign to try to regain popularity. Supposedly, Nicolas [Maduro] helped someone who was in a car accident, and you all saw him getting off a huge truck. That’s them: they have two sets of morals. They speak on behalf of the people, but the reality is that they’re stealing their money. This is a rebolucion, no una revolucion [this roughly means, “this isn’t a real revolution; it’s a farce”].
Valencia Facing Gas Shortage
Valencia, the capital of Carabobo state, awoke today to find that the city was low on gas.
Starting on Saturday night, gas stations in Valencia, Naguanagua and San Diego reported that they were completely out of 95 octane gas, and that they only had 91 octane gas, but many gas stations ran out of the latter type by this morning.
As a result., some people had to line up for hours at gas stations to fill up their tanks. Pedro Martinez was in line at the Guaparo gas station, and said:
It’s incredible that this is happening in an oil-producing country, [and more so] in a state with an oil refinery like the one we have in El Palito.
Martinez was in line from 9:00 AM this morning until about 11:15 AM.
Below, pictures of some of the gas lines in and around Valencia today.
The Guaparo gas station:
Guacamaya gas station in Tocuyito, near Valencia:
Bohio gas station near Valencia:
A sign at an unknown gas station playfully reads, “There’s no gas, comrades”: