CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly appointed a transitional board of directors for the state oil company Wednesday, in a bid by congress chief Juan Guaido to gain control of an industry that is the economic backbone of the country.

Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela on Jan. 23 with the backing of the United States and most South American nations, said the new board will also oversee PDVSA’s U.S. subsidiary, Houston-based refiner Citgo.

“The rescue of our oil industry has begun. CITGO for Venezuelans,” tweeted Guaido, who is leading a rejuvenated opposition effort to push socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Guaido’s representative in Washington, Carlos Vecchio, said that company operations would be maintained as is with the same employees. He said the move was taken to prevent Citgo from being “plundered by the dictatorship.” Officials at Citgo and Venezuela’s communications ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Maduro has previously accused the U.S. and Venezuela’s opposition of trying to stage a coup to oust him.

Despite sitting on the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves, Venezuela has seen its oil output plummet for years.


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