Give Venezuela back its gold!


The UK Supreme Court is currently considering an appeal against the Appeal Court’s overturning of the earlier judgement by 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 it had not been challenged by the Central Bank of Venezuela and the elected Maduro government, 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.

The Appeal Court ruling reopened the argument that whatever the claims made by Guaidό 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 who is entitled to claim custody of the gold for the Central Bank of Venezuela.

Release of the funds to the Maduro government would enable the purchase of much-needed supplies of food, medicines and medical supplies to combat the pandemic.

Guaidό on the other hand is increasingly tainted by involvement in corruption (exposed in 2019 by Panampost and in 2021 by the Washington Post), association with drug traffickers, coup plots against the elected government and even plans to assassinate President Maduro.

It is a mark of the depths to which the current British government has sunk that it is still willing to offer recognition to him. By contrast, the European Union after the December 2020 National Assembly elections, which Guaidό did not contest, referred to him as a representative of the outgoing National Assembly, effectively no longer recognising him as “interim president.”

Furthermore, Guaidó is also facing a wave of de-recognitions in Latin America: Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, very soon Peru, and more to follow. With the exception of the US government and the likes of Bolsonaro, nobody recognises Guaidó’s farcical ‘interim presidency’.

Nevertheless, the British government is seeking to argue in a submission to the Supreme Court that Guaidό, not Nicolas Maduro, is the President of Venezuela, even though Guaidό did not contest the 2018 Presidential election which Maduro won with 67.8% of the vote against two opposition candidates.

Moreover, the British government, with its embassy in Caracas and its accreditation of Maduro’s appointed ambassador in London, is giving de facto recognition to the government of President Maduro.

As Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, has said: “It is both shameful and absurd that the British government continues to support the Bank of England essentially holding Venezuela’s gold to ransom, as part of backing the long-running US campaign for ‘regime change’ in the country. It’s long past time we joined countless other states in recognising that respect for sovereignty is the way forward, not continuing to pretend that someone else is in charge.”

VSC demands that justice be done, bringing the UK’s government shenanigans with the Venezuelan gold to an end by immediately and unconditionally returning the gold to its rightful owners, Venezuela’s state and people. This will enable these resources to be used, through the UN Development Programme (UNPD) as requested by the Venezuelan authorities, to purchase medicines, vaccines, food and vital health items to combat the Covid-19 Pandemic.