An Iranian tanker defied U.S. sanctions and reached Venezuela. The Iranian vessel is the first in a fleet of five tankers that have been sent to help the regime of Nicholas Maduro.

The oil ferried by the tankers will provide a much-needed injection in the Venezuelan economy, which has been crippled by U.S. sanctions. On the other hand, it will provide Tehran with cash that will enable the Iranian government to continue to function.

In a Tweet, Jorge Arreaza, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, said that “Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty. Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people.”

U.S.-Venezuelan relations have been in the spotlight as of late. A few weeks ago, two ex-Green Berets were caught while attempting to infiltrate Venezuela and overthrow the Maduro regime. The U.S. Government denied any involvement in the botched coup d’état but emphasized that regime change is still the desired policy toward Venezuela.

The U.S. State Department and Department of Justice have labeled Maduro a narcoterrorist and put a $15 million bounty on his head.

Maduro succeeded Hugo Chavez after the latter’s death in 2013. He won the election by a small margin. In 2019, he won another election. That election, however, has been considered illegitimate and void. Since then, Juan Guaidó, the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, has been trying to form a transition government that will govern the country until another round of elections, which would be observed by international bodies, can be held. Guaidó’s transitional government has been recognized by 58 countries, including the United States. Guaidó himself visited the U.S. earlier this year and was a guest of President Trump in the State of the Union address.

Following the 2019 elections, the U.S. has imposed heavy sanctions on Venezuela. As a result, the country’s economy has tumbled. Hyperinflation and severe food and medicine shortages have precipitated a humanitarian crisis. According to the U.N., approximately 90 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty. Consequently, close to 5 million have chosen to leave the country, primarily to neighboring countries.

Both Iran and Venezuela are founding members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Comprised of 13 countries, OPEC is essentially an international cartel. According to OPEC, its goal “is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its Member Countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.”