Venezuela Begins to Receive Outstanding Oil Payments from Cuba

Venezuela has received approximately $29 million of its $142 million oil debt from Cuba. Venezuela will begin exporting oil to Cuba later this week. Oil sales to Cuba were suspended in April after a coup briefly toppled President Hugo Chavez and Cuba fell behind in its payments.

Venezuela's energy minister Rafael Ramirez last month announced a restructuring deal on Cuba's oil debt that would clear the way for shipments to resume in September. Venezuela's oil deal with Cuba has become a target for opponents of Chavez, who disagree with the preferential sales agreement they say undermines the his nation's already faltering economy. Under the agreement, Cuba receives about 53,000 barrels a day from Venezuela but can pay for 25 percent of its oil bill over several years. Oil sales make up more than a third of the Venezuela's revenues.