When questioned about the potential controversy arising from the oil donations to Cuba, López Obrador commented on the situation, emphasizing the respect shown by the US government toward Mexico's stance and reiterating his support for Cuba and the need for these donations. “We will do everything in our power to assist the people of Cuba, including providing oil. Cuba is enduring an inhumane and unjust blockade and we cannot abandon the Cuban people,” he said.
Reuters reported on oil donations from the Mexican government to Cuba made in August. According to this source, Mexico had supplied Cuba with around 2MMb over the previous four months. Moreover, Mexico’s exports to Cuba surpassed those of Russia in 2Q23, turning Mexico into a key oil supplier to the Caribbean island. As reported by Reuters, Cuba started using its own tankers to increase exports and began diversifying to decrease dependence on Venezuela.
Later on, it was reported that in August, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) canceled a US$800 million credit line to PEMEX, allegedly due to the oil donations made to Cuba. EXIM reported that PEMEX withdrew its credit request without providing an explanation. A month later Minister of Foreign Affairs Alicia Bárcena Ibarra tried to manage the situation by sending a conciliatory message to Washington. She stated that PEMEX was exploring ways to charge Cuba for the donated oil but emphasized that any such action should avoid violating US sanctions. Bárcena said the donations were made through the nation's International Development Cooperation Agency.
Amid the backdrop of the Cold War, the US initiated its first arms sales embargo against Cuba in 1958, at a time when Cuba was receiving substantial support from the former Soviet Union. Two years later, the US imposed broader sanctions. In 1962, the US went a step further, implementing a comprehensive embargo on nearly all exports to Cuba.
Over the years, the sanctions against Cuba have been reinforced. The embargo remains in place to this day, and every year since 1992, the United Nations has passed a resolution condemning it. The US is one of the few countries that has consistently cast its vote against the resolution, while extending financial aid sanctions to countries engaging in trade with Cuba, which has drawn criticism over time due to the breadth and severity of these restrictions.
After the backlash received regarding the news of the recent donations, Octavio Romero, CEO, PEMEX, denied any claims that the state-owned company had donated crude oil to another foreign government and defended PEMEX’s negotiations with EXIM.
López Obrador extended an invitation to Romero to provide further clarification during his morning conference. In response, the CEO of PEMEX clarified that EXIM had neither imposed fines on PEMEX nor canceled any credits. He explained that the decision to cancel the credit request had been made by mutual agreement and, therefore, EXIM had not rescinded any credit to PEMEX.
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