President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday called for a restructuring of Venezuela’s foreign debt, blaming heightened U.S. sanctions by the Trump administration and potentially signaling a critical new phase in the country’s economic collapse.

Maduro stopped short of declaring the kind of broad, messy default that analysts have feared in the oil-producing nation, and he said Venezuela would on Friday make a key $1.1 billion bond payment for its state energy firm, PDVSA.

But his blanket statement seemed an admission that Venezuela — buckling under low oil prices, a recession and the highest inflation rate in the world — was reaching the limits of its ability to keep servicing debt given sanctions and its economic stresses.

“I decree a refinancing and restructuring of all foreign payments,” Maduro said on state TV late Thursday.

 

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Featured image courtesy of AP

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