By Francisco Dominguez
The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) was right in appealing to the High Court’s ludicrous decision last July to grant US-sponsored Juan Guaidó, in his ‘capacity’ as self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela, the right to retrieve 31 tons of gold (about £800 million) entrusted in custody to the Bank of England (BoE) by the Venezuelan state.
On October 6th October 2020, after processing the BCV’s case, the UK Court of Appeals issued a ruling to annul the High Court’s decision favouring Mr Guaidó with Venezuela’s gold. Venezuela’s BCV has been involved in this litigation with the BoE in UK courts since July for an urgent release of these resources to help the country fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Venezuela is the target of vicious and harmful illegal and criminal unilateral coercive measures from the US government. These sanctions are all-encompassing and involve just about every aspect of Venezuela’s economy, especially its oil industry, but also gold trade, finances, shipping, including the importation of food, medicines and health inputs. US’s declared intention is to bring about an economic collapse leading to a social explosion that would justify an external (US military) ‘humanitarian’ intervention. Furthermore, Venezuela has suffered several mercenary attacks in the last period, aimed at kidnapping and assassinate President Maduro and other high officials in the Bolivarian government, which have Washington’s fingerprints all over.
Venezuela is the target of vicious and harmful illegal and criminal unilateral coercive measures from the US government.
The UK Court of Appeals identified ‘ambiguities’ in the UK government recognition of Mr Guaidó as “president” in statement from February 2019, partly the reason for its ruling. But, there were no ambiguities, the UK government recognised the self-proclaimed “interim” Guaidó because it sought to partake in the share of the spoils once and if President Maduro was overthrown. Ministers in the UK government had secretly, with the collusion and complicity of Mr Guaidó, set up a ‘Unit for the Reconstruction of Venezuela’.
The duplicity in the UK government relations with the legitimate government of President Maduro is extraordinary, since, it although formally says it does not recognise his government, it is quite prepared to send ambassadors who present credentials to Maduro himself in person in a public ceremonies. This was one important part of the argument of the BCV lawyers: the UK not only has an ambassador in Caracas, but the ambassador appointed by the Bolivarian government remains in her post in London.
The duplicity in the UK government relations with the legitimate government of President Maduro is extraordinary
This duplicity with Venezuela also applies to the European Union, since despite its individuals member states ‘recognising’ the self-proclaimed, they all have ambassadors in Caracas and accept the Bolivarian ambassadors in their countries. EU’s duplicity is nearly identical to that of the UK government since there are several European financial institutions that, as with the gold in BoE, are illegally retaining well over US$5 billion that belong to the Venezuelan state, people and government.
The amount is shocking, especially given that the mainstream media pumps the narrative that all the economic difficulties existing in Venezuela have been caused by Maduro government’s policies. Thus, on top of Trump’s criminal sanctions, ‘enlightened’ Europe massively contributes to denying millions of highly vulnerable Venezuelans precious financial resources to purchase food, medicine and health inputs, essential to saving lives in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic. As Boris Johnson and Co in London, European financial institutions point to the ‘legal ambiguities’ created by the EU recognition of Guaidó as “interim president”, for holding on to billions of Venezuelan dollars.
Banks Retaining Venezuelan Financial Resources
|Bank of England||UK||1,323|
|41 other institutions||17 other countries||654|
Europe has even applied sanctions to leading opposition politicians in Venezuela for the ‘sin’ of having agreed to participate in the coming elections to the National Assembly to be held on 6th December 2020. They slavishly toe the US line. Trump has also applied sanctions to these politicians, an even to the directors of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, for the ‘crime’ of organising the December election.
The 6 October 2020 UK Court of Appeals ruling by itself does not guarantee the return of the gold to Venezuela. Therefore, we need to set up the pressure to demand the release of these retained resources that is harming millions of Venezuelans and denying them their human right to medicine, food, and health care. So, if you have not yet done it, sign the petition to return the gold to Venezuela. The country needs these resources to help save the lives of the most vulnerable to Coronavirus infection: people with diabetes, HIV, cancer, hypertension, asthma, etc. It will help to set a powerful precedent that might push European financial institutions to do the right thing.
Sign the petition to return the gold to Venezuela.
Dr Francisco Dominguez is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is head of the Research Group on Latin America. He is National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Dominguez came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refuge. Ever since he has been active on Latin American issues, about which he has written and published extensively. He is co-author of Right wing politics in the New Latin America, Zed Books.