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US Refiner Citgo emerges as key to Venezuela’s power battle

Citgo

The U.S. and dozens of other countries may have declared that Nicolas Maduro is no longer the legitimate president of Venezuela, but that has not loosened his grip on power. Maduro still controls the military, despite scattered defections. He has the loyalty of the Supreme Court. And he has rendered the opposition-controlled National Assembly powerless by setting up a rival constitutional assembly.

But Maduro stands to lose one crucial lever of power: Houston-based refining company Citgo, a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, known by its acronym PDVSA.

Americans know Citgo for its familiar red triangle logo at its more than 5,000 branded gas stations and the iconic sign visible from Fenway Park in Boston. Venezuelans know it as one of their collapsing economy’s last lifelines.

The Trump administration is moving to help transfer its control to Juan Guaido, the National Assembly leader recognized by the U.S. and other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Such a feat would give Guaido a slice of de facto power.

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