A bank in Portugal has blocked Venezuela’s attempt to transfer US$ 1.2 billion to Uruguay, a lawmaker said on Tuesday as the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro warned of the theft of public funds, while the United States sent food and medical aid to the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
Pressure is building on Maduro, to resign amid an economic crisis marked by widespread shortages and hyperinflation, with the United States and a growing number of other nations recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed willingness for the Vatican to mediate Venezuela’s mounting crisis if both sides seek it.
Russia, which along with China has backed Maduro in the crisis, underscored its view that the crisis can be resolved only with negotiations between the government and opposition.
Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month, met on Tuesday with business leaders at Venezuela’s main business group, Fedecamaras, to discuss an economic recovery plan under a future transition government in oil rich Venezuela.
Maduro’s adversaries have warned that Venezuelan officials are seeking to drain state coffers ahead of a potential change of government.
Portugal-based Novo Banco halted the US$ 1.2 billion transfer of Venezuelan government financial assets to Uruguayan banks, legislator Carlos Paparoni underscored during a congressional session, a day after Guaido said authorities were trying to move funds.
“I’m pleased to inform the Venezuelan people that this transaction has until now been halted, protecting the resources of all Venezuelans,” Paparoni said.
Lisbon-based Novo Banco, is 75% owned by U.S. private equity firm Lone Star Funds.
The Uruguayan financial authorities denied such a transaction underlining the country strictly abides by international legislation and has applied to become a member of OECD, for which its banking system must comply with its rules to avoid being black listed as a non-cooperating country.
However it must also be said that the ideological affinity of the Uruguayan ruling coalition with the Venezuelan regimes of both deceased Hugo Chavez and the current Nicolas Maduro has been very strong, and helps to explain the country's 'neutrality' in the current conflict.
Furthermore members of president Tabare Vazquez family and cronies of ex president Jose Mujica have been involved in numerous dubious business dealings with Venezuelan officials, who are not known precisely for their transparency or honesty, but rather as looters or financial predators.