Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, warned President Trump against a ban on imports of oil from the crisis-stricken nation.
Maduro tweeted Thursday that an oil embargo would not only be illegal, it would also be one of the biggest mistakes that the U.S. could commit in terms of international politics.
"The oil embargo is an illegal measure in the light of international law, an inconvenient measure in the light of America's interests, and is one of the biggest mistakes in international politics that it would commit," Maduro tweeted.
The tweet came after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement last week that the U.S. was considering a ban on Venezuelan oil imports to pressure Maduro to implement democratic reforms.
“One of the aspects of considering sanctioning oil is what effect would it have on the Venezuelan people? Is it a step that might bring this to an end more rapidly?” Tillerson said at a press conference.
Venezuela’s economy is in a tailspin. After years of socialist rule during which the government overspent to win the favor of the nation’s poor, oil entered a bear market and the country’s revenue collapsed. Things have become so dire that its people lack such basic necessities as food and medicine.
But not only are citizens impacted, the government has been hit. One of the business casualties of Maduro’s policies has been oil production. In an ironic twist, oil prices have recovered, but the plunge in oil production has left the country missing out on billions of potential revenue each month.
Oil is Venezuela’s primary export. In 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. obtained 8% of its oil imports from Venezuela.