LAST_UPDATESat, 26 May 2018 10am

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Donates $500,000 To Trump Fund Despite Economic Woes

The president of Venezuela donated $500,000 (£391,000) to Donald Trump's inauguration fund despite the country suffering severe economic problems and food shortages.

Inaugural committee records show Citgo Petroleum, a US affiliate of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, was one of the biggest corporate donors to events surrounding the swearing-in ceremony.

The donation topped that of some US firms including Pepsi ($250,000), Walmart ($150,000) and Verizon ($100,000) and was on par with the likes of JP Morgan Chase and Exxon, which each donated $500,000.

It came in under Bank of America's $1m contribution.

Nicolas Maduro has been careful not to antagonise the new US president, but the Trump administration has recently stepped up criticism of Venezuela's government.

In February, Mr Trump met the wife of a jailed opposition leader at the White House and on Tuesday the US State Department issued a statement decrying violence against protesters.

"Those responsible for the criminal repression of peaceful democratic activity ... will be held individually accountable for their actions by the Venezuelan people and their institutions, as well as the international community," the statement read.

On Wednesday, two people were shot dead as thousands of Venezuelans took part in protests against Mr Maduro demanding fresh elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians.

The South American country has the world's largest oil reserves and once commanded a booming economy, but many Venezuelans accuse Mr Maduro of pilfering the nation's wealth.