A “terrorist attack” ruptured storage tanks at a heavy oil processing plant in eastern Venezuela, Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said yesterday, blaming the US and opposition chief Juan Guaido.
No casualties were reported in the incident that occurred late Wednesday at the Petro San Felix facility located on the outskirts of the Venezuelan city of Barcelona in which three tanks caught fire.
Quevedo blamed Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s opposition-ruled legislature and self-proclaimed interim president backed by 50 countries, accusing him of collusion with the US.
“There was a terrorist act that we denounce at an international level,” Quevedo told state television network VTV.
He singled out a US senator, Marco Rubio, whom Caracas considers to be a leading politician in the US policies against Maduro’s government.
On Twitter, the minister said Rubio “ordered more violence in Venezuela.”
Guaido and the opposition, he said, were “intensifying terrorist incursions” against the state-owned oil company PDVSA to impact Venezuela’s vital crude exports.
“Traitors!” he wrote, adding “the US has decided to rob Venezuela of its oil resources...(and) wants blood to flow.”
Oil exports account for 90% of Venezuela’s export revenues.
Production has long slid, crimped by years of underinvestment and mismanagement.
Stepped-up US sanctions have further trimmed exports.
An unprecedented nationwide blackout that lasted nearly a week dealt further damage, affecting most of the 1mn barrels of oil a day Venezuela still manages to produce, according to the economic analysis firm Ecoanalitica.
Earlier Venezuela accused the US of interventionism at an international drug policy conference in Vienna.
Diplomats from the US and several European countries walked out as Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza spoke at the annual gathering of countries to review UN drug treaties, to protest the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Arreaza criticised Washington’s military presence in Latin America in the name of the war against drugs, charging that these operations “sometimes are simply a pretext to control territory in the region.”
“The government of the US has threatened our people with military aggression,” he added, alluding to Washington’s assertions that all policy options are on the table to end the crisis in Venezuela, where an economic meltdown has left large numbers of people facing food and medicine shortages.
“The members of the Venezuela delegation here today represent the illegitimate government of Nicolas Maduro, and thus cannot be considered as speaking on behalf of the Venezuelan people,” the spokesman of the US mission to the United Nations in Vienna said.
Western countries staged a similar walk-out when Arreaza spoke at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month.
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