MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday he would be willing to sell gasoline to Venezuela for humanitarian reasons despite United States sanctions against the South American nation.
“Venezuela has not made a request of us, but if it were a humanitarian necessity, we would do it,” López Obrador said during a visit to the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. “We are free, Mexico is an independent country, sovereign, we make our own decisions and we don’t get involved in the policies of other countries.
“It is self-determination of the people and help in humanitarian ways. No one has the right to oppress others, no hegemony can squash another country,” he added.
The position could stress relations with the United States, Mexico’s neighbor and largest trading partner. López Obrador has managed to navigate a positive relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, while brushing aside Trump’s broader attacks on Mexicans and migrants.
It’s also not clear Mexico would be in a position to sell gasoline. While it is an oil-producing nation, a lack of refining capacity forces it to purchase most of its gasoline from the United States. The country’s Energy Ministry said last year that three-quarters of Mexico’s gasoline is imported.
The United States has imposed sanctions aimed at choking the administration of Venezuela(s socialist leader Nicolás Maduro and it has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, though he has no de facto power within the country.
Mexico has not recognized Guaidó, in line with a non-interventionist foreign policy preferred by López Obrador.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, but must import gasoline because production has plummeted. Critics blame corruption and mismanagement while Maduro blames U.S. economic pressure.
Threats of U.S. legal and financial action have led even some companies in China and Russia to halt some oil industry dealings with Venezuela, though Iran — which itself is also under sanctions — sent five tankers of gasoline to Venezuela last month.
One of López Obrador’s signature projects is building a new refinery to bolster the country’s refining capacity.