Venezuela summons Cuba imagery after Citigroup closes accounts
Banking giant and Kimberly-Clark announce they are pulling out of Venezuela
President Nicolás Maduro accuses them of joining a 'financial blockade'
of his country
Language similar to Cuba's against 'imperialist' U.S. government
BY FRANCO ORDOÑEZ
Venezuela's president has summoned imagery from the long standoff
between Cuba and the United States to respond to the announcement this
week by two major American companies that they were pulling out of
President Nicolás Maduro blamed the Obama administration of trying to
create "financial blockade" around the country, as Citigroup announced
its plan to close certain Venezuelan government foreign currency
accounts in the next 30 days and as Kimberly-Clark, maker of Huggies
diapers and Cottonelle, said it would close manufacturing plants there.
Venezuela is on the verge of economic collapse, and items such as
diapers and toilet paper are in short supply.
Experts predicted that more American companies are likely to cease
operations in the country.
"Do you think they're going to stop us with a financial blockade? No,
gentlemen, this is a different world. Nobody stops Venezuela," Maduro
said during a meeting at the Miraflores Presidential Palace. "With
Citibank or without Citibank, we'll continue. With Kimberly or without
Kimberly, we will continue."
Cuba calls the U.S. embargo against the island nation a "blockade."
Cuba and Venezuela have long promoted a narrative that frames them as
victims of U.S. aggression. Maduro called the Citibank and
Kimberly-Clark decisions part of the "new imperialist inquisition"
orchestrated by the Obama administration.
"Sadly, I don't believe they will be the last to depart as Venezuela
melts down, making eventual economic recovery much more distant and
harder to do," said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the
Washington-based Council of the Americas.
Citigroup is the oldest international bank operating in Venezuela. Bank
officials said they alerted the United States government to their
decision, but the U.S. government did not direct or suggest the move.
A Citigroup official said the bank performed a recent risk assessment
and concluded that continuing to operate in Venezuela presented
"reputational risks." But the official, who spoke under a grant of
anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the decision publicly,
declined to provide details, citing U.S. financial regulations.
The bank said in a statement it was continuing to talk to the Maduro
administration "to address its concerns." It did not say what those
Officials at Kimberly-Clark did not respond to request for comment. The
Irving, Texas-based company manufactures a wide-range of personal care
products, including diapers, toilet paper and Kleenex tissues.
Venezuelan labor minister Oswaldo Vera said the government would take
over the Kimberly-Clark factory after the company said it was no longer
possible to manufacture goods because of the country's economic crisis.
"Kimberly-Clark will continue producing for all of the Venezuelans,"
Vera announced from the factory surrounded by some its workers.
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @francoordonez.
Source: Venezuela accuses United States of starting a Cuba-like embargo
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