05:32 GMT03 April 2020
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    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed a decree on Wednesday declaring the government's intention to carry out large-scale reform in the country's oil industry to protect it against US sanctions, while also announcing the creation of a new presidential commission to oversee its implementation.

    “I declare an emergency situation in the oil industry by constitutional and presidential decree in order to take urgent and necessary measures to ensure the country's energy security and protect the industry from imperialist aggression”, Maduro said at a meeting with oil industry workers as broadcast in his Twitter account. "Clause 2 creates a plenipotentiary presidential commission for the protection, restructuring and reorganization of the national oil industry", he stated, adding that the commission would have all required powers to reconfigure the entire oil industry.

    Venezuela has been suffering from a severe political crisis since the beginning of last year, when Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, illegally proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela in a bid to oust Maduro from power.

    Maduro has said that Guaido is a US puppet working with Washington to orchestrate a coup so that the United States can control Venezuela’s natural resources.

    The US has been imposing sanctions against Venezuela and its officials in recent years in hitherto fruitless attempts to force its duly elected President Nicolas Maduro to resign. Namely, Washington has limited Caracas' ability to sell crude, one of its most crucial export goods, as the country is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and rampant inflation. The US government has also frozen the US-based assets of the state oil company PDVSA.

    On Tuesday, the United States announced sanctions against Swiss-based Rosneft Trading S.A. and its head, Didier Casimiro, accusing the Rosneft oil brokerage subsidiary of handling over 70 percent of Venezuela’s oil exports in circumvention of US sanctions. The US also gave the companies doing business with Rosneft Trading 90 days to disentangle the arrangements.

    Tags:
    Oil Industry, Venezuela, United States
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