Un­likely Trump donor ex­posed

The New Age (Gauteng) - - BUSINESS -

CITGO, the US af­fil­i­ate of Venezuela’s state-run oil com­pany, do­nated $500000 (R6.6m) to Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion fund, doc­u­ments re­leased here show.

The Hous­ton, Texas-based Citgo is among 20 com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als who made the largest do­na­tions to the com­mit­tee or­gan­is­ing the pres­i­dent’s events, doc­u­ments re­leased by the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion on Wed­nes­day say.

The do­na­tion is sur­pris­ing be­cause re­la­tions be­tween Cara­cas and Washington, which have not ex­changed am­bas­sadors since 2010, is at an es­pe­cially low point.

Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro rou­tinely bashes Washington and blames US of­fi­cials, with­out of­fer­ing proof, for be­ing be­hind his coun­try’s op­po­si­tion move­ment and un­spec­i­fied plots to oust him.

The White House has called on Maduro to re­lease its po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, and Trump even wel­comed the wife of jailed op­po­si­tion leader Leopoldo Lopez to the White House in Fe­bru­ary.

The FEC doc­u­ments were re­leased on the same day that three peo­ple died in mas­sive Venezue­lan protests against Maduro. Pres­sure on the left­ist pres­i­dent has been mount­ing since 2014, as fall­ing prices for Venezuela’s cru­cial oil ex­ports have ag­gra­vated a deep eco­nomic cri­sis.

Also Wed­nes­day, US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said that US of­fi­cials are “con­cerned” that the Maduro gov­ern­ment “is vi­o­lat­ing its own con­sti­tu­tion and not al­low­ing the op­po­si­tion to have their voices heard.” Trump took of­fice on Jan­uary 20 and his in­au­gu­ra­tion com­mit­tee raised $107m for the fes­tiv­i­ties.

Citgo’s do­na­tion is on par with those of Mi­crosoft, bankers JP Mor­gan, and oil giants Exxon and Chevron, which all do­nated $500 000.

But other large US cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing Google and Ver­i­zon, do­nated less money, ac­cord­ing to the FEC doc­u­ment.

De­spite the heated rhetoric be­tween the two coun­tries, the US re­mains Venezuela’s main trad­ing part­ner and one of its few cus­tomers that pays in full and on time for its oil ex­ports. – AFP

PIC­TURE: AFP

PUZ­ZLING: Venezue­lan oil com­pany Citgo made large cam­paign to Trump’s in­au­gua­ra­tion.

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