Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami has tested positive for COVID-19, he said on Twitter on Friday, a day after the leader of the socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, tested positive for the virus as well.
Venezuela will increase fuel prices in June, the president said, putting a limit on state subsidies that for decades had allowed citizens to fill their gas tanks virtually for free. Although the country has huge oil reserves, production has collapsed and Venezuelans are facing dire shortages - exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
The first of five Iranian tankers carrying much-needed gasoline and oil derivatives docked in Venezuela on Monday, Caracas announced amid concern in Washington over the burgeoning relationship between countries it sees as international pariahs.
United States immigration officials have added Venezuelan government minister Tareck El Aissami, a suspected drug smuggler, to their list of most wanted fugitives, they said on Wednesday.
Venezuela hosted a brief meeting of creditors on Monday as the struggling yet oil-rich country sought to stave off a default seen as inevitable by experts, while the EU stepped up the pressure with new sanctions on Caracas.
Venezuela's foreign debt renegotiation committee will meet with creditors at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Monday at the government's White Palace in downtown Caracas, the finance minister said on Saturday.
Venezuela on Thursday announced plans to restructure its burgeoning foreign debt, a move that may lead to a default by the cash-strapped OPEC nation whose collapsing socialist economy has left its population struggling to find food and medicine.
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA began making a major bond payment, easing short-term worries about default but leaving the populist government with less cash to attend to food shortages and economic depression.
Tareck El Aissami, the recently appointed vice president in Venezuela, took out a full-page in The New York Times on Wednesday to rebuke sanctions against him and other Venezuelan officials leveled by the US government over drug trafficking charges. El Aissami, who was named alongside an alleged associate, was declared by the US Treasury Department to be a specially designated narcotics trafficker for allegedly playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday shuffled his cabinet by naming a new economy czar to oversee the OPEC country's decaying populist system and a new oil minister to confront the economic difficulties caused by low oil prices. He also appointed a new vice-president, state governor Tarek El Aissami, a hard liner that could replace Maduro if he is forced to step down.