Asdrubal Jose Chavez Jiminez

Renuka Singh

T&T’s meeting with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and even refuelling a sanctioned plane has raised red flags with the US Treasury Department.

A US Treasury Department spokesperson also warned that anyone engaging with Venezuelan energy company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) or the government would be on their radar.

“Persons may also be designated under other Venezuela-related authorities for engaging in certain activities involving Petroleos de Venezuela, SA (PdVSA) or other government of Venezuela persons,” the Treasury Department spokesperson said.

The spokesperson reminded that the US “retains the authority to impose sanctions on any person that is determined to operate in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. Those engaged in activity in the Venezuelan oil sector, including non-US persons, are exposed to the risk of sanctions.”

The comment mirrored others given by the US State Department and the US United here in T&T following reports that a fuel shipment which the Paria Fuel Trading Company sold to fuel tycoon Wilmer Ruperti’s Aruba company may have subsequently been sent to Venezuela.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of National Security Stuart Young met with Rodriguez and the vice president of the commission to restructure PDVSA, Asdrubal Jose Chavez Jiminez, on March 27. However, both Rowley and Young have noted Chavez was not appointed to PDVSA until after the meeting and that it deal strictly with COVID-19.

Last week, Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar produced passenger manifests which showed Rodriguez’s team included a PDVSA delegation. The team included Asdurbal Jose Chavez Jiminez, who was named PDSVA president weeks after the visit, Alejandra Carolina Bastidas Gonzalez, Kenny Antonio Diaz Rosario, Euclides Neptali Sanchez Romero and Juan Vicente Santana Maglicion, who is the current PDVSA vice president of gas.

Rowley has said he was never introduced to the people at the meeting and did not know any of the men worked with PDVSA. He also said Jiminez was not the PDVSA president at the time of the meeting.

Young also reiterated yesterday that Rodriguez was here to discuss COVID-19, adding he did not “drill down” into the type of plane, who owned it or even who was on the manifest for the visit. He said he and Rowley only met with Rodriguez and Jiminez and not the entire delegation.