Venezuelan Government Donates $500k To Trump

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro (center)Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro (center)

Records from President Donald Trump's inaugural committee show that, on December 22, 2016, Venezuela's state-owned oil company donated $500,000 to the American president's inauguration fund.

The Venezuelan government reportedly donated the money through Citgo Petroleum, a US-based company owned by the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.

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The half-million-dollar donation comes amid dire political, social, and economic conditions for the country of Venezuela as a whole.

Jose Manuel Puente, a professor of public policy at IESA university in Caracas, explained the collective hardship facing the country.

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"We have been experiencing four consecutive years of recession, we have the highest inflation in the world and are facing scarcity in many basic goods," said Puente, according to the BBC.

"It is scandalous that Venezuela, facing such a crisis, would make those donations to the inauguration of a US president, who at least in theory, is ideologically confronted with the revolution,"

In 2016, food imports to Venezuela were slashed in half, according to NBC.

"It is an amazing amount of money that could have fed a lot of your population for the month," said Russ Dallen, managing partner of the Caracas Capital investment firm, in reference to Maduro's donation.

Last year saw impoverished Venezuelan citizens losing an average of 21 pounds from starvation.

Furthermore, political tensions in Venezuela have erupted in violent demonstrations, which have reportedly deteriorated into several confrontations between protesters and security personnel.

People numbering in the thousands have taken to the streets to demand new elections and protest Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's leadership, chanting "No more dictatorship," according to Reuters.

The protests culminated in the April 19 slayings of three people.

On April 18, the US State Department responded to these ongoing protests by releasing a statement decrying the events.

"Those responsible for the criminal repression of peaceful democratic activity ... will be held individually accountable for their actions by the Venezuelan people and their institutions, as well as the international community," read the statement, according to Sky News.

President Trump's February meeting with the wife of the imprisoned Leopoldo Lopez, one of President Maduro's political rivals, as well as Trump's advocating for Lopez's release may run contrary to any speculation that Maduro will receive a return on his government's investment in the American president.

"It's very clear he's putting money behind his priorities, but those don't necessarily include the population of the country, in terms of food, medicine, safety," says Eric Farnsworth, vice president at the Council of the Americas.

The cumulative amount of money shelled out by Citgo was reportedly more than the Trump inauguration donations of Pepsi, Walmart, and Verizon combined.

Maduro's donation matched those of companies JP Morgan Chase and Exxon, but was still overshadowed by the $1 million donated by the Bank of America.

Sources: Sky News, BBC, NBC, Reuters/Photo Credit: Cencilleria del Ecuador/Flickr