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Economics

Maduro’s Oil-for-Debt Deal Is a Desperate Bid to End Default

  • Creditors would join with driller for access to oil fields
  • Big question is whether Trump administration would sign off
Nicolas Maduro speaks in Caracas on Sept. 30.
Nicolas Maduro speaks in Caracas on Sept. 30.Photographer: Carolina Cabral Fernandez/Bloomberg
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President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, dismissed as a goner after the U.S. put its weight behind his political rival and crippled his government with sanctions, is offering an unorthodox payback to Wall Street creditors as part of a long-shot effort to get the Trump administration to reverse its policy.

In recent weeks, several American financiers have huddled in Caracas with top government officials, including Maduro, according to five people familiar with the matter. They discussed a complex plan to pair up creditors, who hold $60 billion of defaulted bonds, with a foreign drilling company that would be granted the rights to some of the country’s richest oil fields. Some money could go to humanitarian aid for crisis-stricken Venezuelans.