© AP

CARACAS (AP) – A federal judge in the United States approved on Friday the sale of the precious Venezuelan refineries CITGO settled in the United States, and authorized a Canadian mining company to collect $ 1.4 billion that it lost due to the nationalization carried out by the deceased president. Socialist Hugo Chávez.

The ruling deals a blow to the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó, who hoped to use the profits of the Houston-based company to finance the recovery of the South American country in the face of the crisis if it ever manages to depose President Nicolás Maduro. .

Judge Leonard P. Stark of the Federal District Court in Delaware issued his order after the United States Supreme Court upheld on Monday a previous ruling authorizing the liquidation of CITGO.

Before proceeding with the sale of CITGO, the Canadian mining bank Crystallex must obtain a permit from the United States Treasury Department, which had temporarily shielded the Venezuelan opposition from losing CITGO.

Crystallex and the attorneys representing Venezuela also have to agree on how the CITGO sale will take place, according to Stark’s latest ruling.

Chávez took control of the mining company’s concession in Venezuela, as well as the operations of other international companies as part of his Bolivarian revolution that has left the South American nation in a political and economic crisis.

Crystallex sued Venezuela to recoup its lost investments. The case is unique because the court allowed the miner to seize assets from Citgo’s parent company, state-owned company PDVSA, after determining that Caracas had removed ties between the government and its oil firm.

Venezuela has owned CITGO since the 1980s as part of PDVSA. It has three refineries, in Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois, plus a pipeline network that crosses 23 states. It supplies between 5% and 10% of the gasoline consumed in the United States.

Guaidó, president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, was awarded presidential powers in early 2017 and promised to end the Maduro government and two decades of socialist rule.

After the government of President Donald Trump recognized Guaidó as the legitimate ruler of Venezuela, US courts approved a board appointed by the opposition to take control of CITGO, valued at about $ 8 billion. However, more than a year later, Maduro remains in power, thanks to the strong support of his country’s armed forces and important international allies such as Russia, China and Iran.