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Venezuela vows to launch legal battle against US sanctions in international courts

The United States violates all legal standards, the diplomat said
Venezuela's Ambassador to Russia Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Venezuela's Ambassador to Russia Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa
© Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

MOSCOW, January 31. /TASS/. Caracas plans to file lawsuits with international courts against Washington’s sanctions on its oil and gas company PDVSA and the US decision to hand control to opposition leader Juan Guaido over some Venezuelan state assets in American banks, Venezuela's Ambassador to Russia Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa told TASS in an interview.

"What has been done is robbery," Tortosa said. "They froze the accounts and also the transactions of PDVSA. We have a large enterprise in Houston, in the United States, this is Citgo. In America, there are more than 10,000 gasoline stations, and all this has been a source of revenue for our state, but they have frozen all this."

"We will embark on litigation in international courts over these crimes," he stressed.

Damage to Venezuela’s economy

According to the ambassador, Washington seeks to "deal a great blow to the economy, to reduce foreign currency inflows in order to deprive citizens of the opportunity to buy essentials, such as food or medicine." "We consider these steps as absolutely illegal. In fact, this is an expropriation of government funds. The United States violates all legal norms. They take money from our state and say they will give it to another individual, this should not be happening," Tortosa said.

"We worry about what they will do, but the problem is that they have frozen the accounts that we really need. The fact that they seized $1.2 bln in gold from the Bank of England fits this agenda. We will try to confirm at international courts that such actions are illegal," he vowed.

"It is very naive to believe that the US government will make it possible to use this money to help our people or send this money so that Mr. Guaido would provide assistance to people. We know that this is not so," the diplomat noted.

"They have already proven this through the examples of Libya, Cuba and Iran and other countries. Tell me where are the funds of the Libyan people, which they stole, that’s $200 bln. No one knows whether the state or someone else owns it. We know that they stole this money," the ambassador stressed.

Political turmoil engulfs Venezuela

Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas on January 23. Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him as president. President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US. On January 29, Washington imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s oil producer PDVSA and handed control to Guaido over a part of Venezuela’s assets in US banks.

Meanwhile, Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said that they would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president unless Maduro called elections by February 3.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.