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HomeWorldVenezuela’s powerful oil tsar resigns amid corruption inquiry

Venezuela’s powerful oil tsar resigns amid corruption inquiry


Petroleum Minister Tareck El Aissami announces his resignation on Twitter and says he will cooperate with the government’s investigation.

Venezuela’s powerful petroleum minister has announced his resignation following the detention of at least six senior officials amid a corruption investigation targeting state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), the judiciary and other parts of the government.

Tareck El Aissami announced his resignation on Twitter on Monday and promised to help investigate all allegations involving PDVSA, while also supporting President Nicolás Maduro’s anti-corruption campaign.

“…I place myself at the disposal of the leadership (of the ruling party) to support this crusade undertaken by the President @NicolasMaduro against the anti-values ​​that we must fight even with our lives,” El Aissami wrote.

Maduro has not immediately named a replacement for El Aissami, who has served as vice president, minister and mayor for the past two decades.

Maduro, who has led past corruption campaigns, said in televised remarks that his government is determined to “get to the root” of the problem.

While corruption has long been rampant in Venezuela, it is rare to see government officials arrested for corrupt practices in a country with the world’s largest petroleum reserves. The fact that public officials are rarely held accountable is a major annoyance to citizens, the majority of whom now live on $1.90 a day, the international benchmark for extreme poverty.

Maduro acknowledged El Aissami’s resignation in televised remarks at a meeting of ruling party leaders. He said he accepted the minister’s decision “to facilitate all inquiries which should lead to the establishment of the truth, the punishment of the guilty and justice in all these matters”.

The US government designated El Aissami, a powerful ally of Maduro, as a key figure on narcotics related activities in his previous posts as interior minister and governor of the country in 2017. The US Treasury Department alleges that “on multiple occasions he supervised or partially owned narcotics weighing more than 1,000 kilograms from Venezuela, including those destined for Mexico and the United States”. He has denied the allegations.

Under the government of the late President Hugo Chávez, El Aissami headed the Ministry of the Interior. In April 2020, he was appointed Minister of Oil.

Oil is Venezuela’s main industry.

A windfall of hundreds of billions in petrodollars from record-high world prices enabled Chávez to launch numerous initiatives, including state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and education programs.

But a subsequent fall in prices and government mismanagement, first under the Chávez government and then under Maduro, put an end to lavish spending. And so began a complex crisis that has pushed millions into poverty and pushed more than seven million Venezuelans to migrate.

PDVSA’s mismanagement and more recently US-imposed economic sanctions have also led to a steady decline in production, from 3.5 million barrels per day when Chávez came to power in 1999 to about 700,000 barrels per day last year.

In 2016, Venezuela’s then-opposition-led National Assembly said $11 billion had gone missing from PDVSA over the period 2004-2014. In 2015, the US Treasury Department accused a bank in Andorra of laundering approximately $2 billion stolen from PDVSA.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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