Venezuela Solidarity Campaign applauds the ruling by the Appeal Court overturning the earlier judgement of the Commercial Court that had endorsed the British Government’s recognition of Juan Guaidό, the self- proclaimed “interim president”, as the leader of Venezuela rather than the elected president Nicholas Maduro.

The Commercial Court’s decision, if allowed to stand could have allowed the Bank of England to release from its vaults the 31 tons of Venezuelan gold worth more than $1bn gold to Guaidό.

In returning the case to the Commercial Court for reconsideration, the Appeal Court has reopened the possibility of success for the Venezuelan Central Bank’s attempt to force the Bank of England to release the funds to the United Nations Development Programme for the purchase of much-needed supplies of food and medicines.

The Appeal Court ruling reopens the argument that whatever Guaidό claims about his position as “interim president”, the British Government is currently recognising President Maduro as the person who exercises some or all of the powers of the President of Venezuela and therefore it is President Maduro entitled to claim custody of the 31 tons of gold for the Central Bank of Venezuela.

The Appeal Court has therefore ordered that a detailed investigation is required into the diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the UK to determine if the British Government does in fact recognise that President Maduro continues to exercise ‘de facto’ powers as head of state.

Venezuela’s battle to reclaim its gold from the Bank of England vaults began back in 2018. At the time, the Trump administration was using all means at its disposal to cut the Venezuelan government off from its overseas assets, as part of its drive to achieve ‘regime change’ in the country.

In rejecting the Central Bank of Venezuela’s claim on the gold, the Bank of England showed the political nature of its decision to break its contract with the Central Bank, a position in effect upheld by the Commercial Court in May 2020.

The Commercial Court’s judgement rested largely on a hasty decision by the UK in January 2019 to issue a statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognising the minor politician and self-described “interim president”, Juan Guaidό.

The Government’s recognition of Guaidό has not been withdrawn despite his involvement in not only a series of corruption scandals but also failed coup attempts against the Venezuelan government, including a plan to assassinate President Maduro.

The refusal by the Bank of England to give Venezuela back its gold and the government’s persistence in supporting Guaidό have nothing to do with concerns about the welfare of the Venezuelan people.

As Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, said at the time of the original court judgement, “This decision on Venezuela’s gold is about slavishly following Trump’s illegal ‘regime change’ agenda and nothing else”, adding: “the decision not to let Venezuela use its gold resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic lacks any sense of humanitarianism at this time of global crisis.”

Commenting on today’s judgement, he said: “Welcome news from the Court of Appeal. Now is the time to step up campaigning to give Venezuela back its gold.”

“The Bank of England’s continued withholding of financial resources from Venezuela, in the context of Trump’s criminal sanctions and the pandemic, denies the country the wherewithal to purchase food, medicines and other vital medical supplies. This is seriously affecting ordinary Venezuelans, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, October 2020 – Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-mp-give-venezuela-back-its-gold