CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro insisted on Sunday that his cash-strapped country would "never" default, as he prepared to meet with creditors in Caracas to discuss rescheduling part of the country’s massive US$150 billion debt.
"Never, default will never reach Venezuela," he declared on his weekly television show. "Our strategy is to renegotiate and refinance all the debt."
Maduro pointed to ongoing negotiations with his allies China and Russia, to which Venezuela owes, respectively, $28 billion and $8 billion.
He said talks with China were "moving along perfectly" and noted that agreement had been reached last week with Moscow to restructure roughly $3 billion in loans. That was seen to give Caracas at least a few weeks’ breathing room to make other upcoming payments.
But sanctions imposed by the US in August have made it hard for the country to raise money from international investors.
Venezuela’s huge levels of debt have left it unable to import badly needed food, medicine and other goods.
Maduro accused the financial rating agencies, which this week lowered Venezuela’s debt rating, of being part of a "financial war" waged by the US, a favourite target of his.
The downgrading of Venezuela’s ratings by Standard and Poor’s and Fitch was seen as increasing the likelihood of a default. — AFP