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Volume 50 Number 21, June 6, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Upsurge in Response to the Killing of George Floyd:

In Defence of the Rights of All

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Upsurge in Response to the Killing of George Floyd: In Defence of the Rights of All

The Farce and the Tragedy of Government's Handling of Covid-19 Pandemic:
How Should Democracy Be Organised?

Safe Reopening of Schools:
Teachers and Education Workers Must Be the Decision-Makers

Condemnation of British Government Warmongering:
No Let Up in Exercises and Operations in Europe and the World During Coronavirus Pandemic

Hostility against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela:
Britain's Complicity in the Agenda for Regime Change in Venezuela
UK Steals $ 1 billion

Upsurge in Response to the Killing of George Floyd:

In Defence of the Rights of All

Hyde Park, London

People all over the world have expressed their condemnation and revulsion at the brutal killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which was captured on several video recordings for all to see. People have been particularly appalled that such a crime could take place in public and during the Covid-19 pandemic when governments and their agencies should be doing everything to protect the lives of their citizens.


Protests on a scale not seen since the 1960s have taken place across the United States, elsewhere in the Americas, as well as in towns and cities throughout the world. People have voiced their opposition not only to the unlawful and savage way in which George Floyd was killed, but also to the deaths of many other African Americans who, in recent times, lost their lives as a result of racist violence, often perpetrated by those given police powers by the authority of the state. Condemnation of the killing of the George Floyd and other African Americans has also come from the numerous governments, the African Union and various agencies of the United Nations.

Attention has been drawn to the fact that the history of the United States has been inseparable from racist violence and the oppression of its African American population. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stated: "This is the latest in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by US police officers and members of the public, I am dismayed to have to add George Floyd's name to that of Breonna Taylor, Erol Garner, Michael Brown and many other unarmed African Americans who have died over the years at the hands of the police - as well as people such as Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin who were killed by armed members of the public. The US authorities must take serious action to stop such killings, and to ensure justice is done when they do occur. Procedures must change, prevention systems must be put in place, and above all police officers who resort to excessive use of force should be charged and convicted for the crimes committed." Bachelet concluded that "the role that entrenched and pervasive racial discrimination plays in such deaths must also be fully examined, properly recognized and dealt with". The protests in the United States as well as elsewhere have shown that the vast majority of people are resolutely opposed to the perpetuation of such racist violence and discrimination by the state, or in any other form, and are determined to eliminate it and stand together in defence of the rights of all.

The worldwide protests have also taken place in towns and cities in Britain, in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and elsewhere, although the government and police are now attempting to ban such gatherings on the grounds that they are "unlawful" during the pandemic. In these demonstrations people have expressed their anger and grief not only at what has occurred in the United States, but at the various forms of racism that still exist in Britain. This has been poignantly highlighted by a renewed focus on those of African and Caribbean heritage who have lost their lives at the hands of the police in Britain. They include men who needed medical care such Sean Rigg, killed by the police in Brixton in 2008, Olaseni Lewis, killed by police whilst in hospital in 2010, and Sheku Bayoh, killed by the police in Scotland in 2015, as well as many others. Figures released by INQUEST suggest that the proportion of such deaths of those from African, Caribbean and other minority communities "where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody". INQUEST concludes that those from minority communities "die disproportionately as a result of use of force or restraint by the police".

Protests in Britain have also drawn attention to the disproportionate numbers of those from minority communities who have died as result of Covid-19, including Belly Mujinga, a railway worker who died following an assault. Police initially declined to take any action on the case claiming there was insufficient evidence, but a public outcry and a petition of over a million signatures has led to the Crown Prosecution Service being asked to conduct a review of the evidence. This week also saw the release of the enquiry into deaths from Covid-19 published by Public Health England which was supposed to address the disproportionally higher death rates amongst those from minority communities. However, although the report acknowledged that the risk was higher, it was immediately criticised by the British Medical Association, and by many others, for censoring some evidence, for adding nothing to what was already widely known and for "having no clear action plan" to save lives. It was not coincidental therefore that this week it was also announced that the government's Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will investigate "long-standing structural racial inequality" in Britain.

The fact that such inequality in its many forms is "long-standing", both in Britain and the US, points to the inability of existing mechanisms and institutions to remove it. Indeed, history and experience including recent deaths show that it is the powers that be and the existing social and political institutions that perpetuate racism and other forms of inequality and discrimination in health, education, employment, the criminal justice system, the media and elsewhere. What is more, it is the laws, policies and actions of the state that are the most thoroughly racist and create the conditions for violence against individuals and entire communities. In these circumstances there can be no illusions that governments and the state apparatus are capable of taking, or concerned to take, the necessary measures to save lives and eliminate racism. These circumstances underline that it is the anachronistic state and its police powers which must be blamed for racism and violence, not the people. As recent events have shown, it is necessary for the people themselves to take action in order to advance their common interests and stand together in defence of the rights of all.

London, Whitehall (left)  Newport Isle of Wight (right)

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London, Brixton (left)  Newcastle (right)

London, Southall (left)  London, Peckham (right)

Article Index

The Farce and the Tragedy of Government's Handling of Covid-19 Pandemic

How Should Democracy Be Organised?

Last week saw farcical scenes in parliament as long "socially-distant" queues formed after MPs were called back to Westminster and the ability to participate and vote remotely was dropped. The order to physically attend was given despite concerns that it will exclude those shielding due to age or for health reasons. On July 1, Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, representing the government's position, declared that "if Parliament is to deliver on the people's priorities it must sit physically", and tabled a motion accordingly. An alternative was put forward to allow MPs unable to continue to participate remotely.

In order to "break the deadlock", Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle intervened. "While I don't wish to stop a return to important elements of spontaneity, including interventions, some steps need to be taken to ensure that we can match those who need to be in the Chamber to participate at any one time with the limits on safe spacing," he said in letter to MPs. The compromise intended to prevent a densely packed chamber is a queuing system with two-metre separation, such as is now commonplace at supermarkets. Further, MPs can self-certify if they cannot attend Parliament, and may then vote by proxy. This applies to MPs who: are themselves or have a family member who is "clinically vulnerable" or "clinically extremely vulnerable"; are required to self-isolate; or are prevented from attending due to caring responsibilities. Voting by proxy cannot be used simply on the grounds of inability to use a member's usual travel arrangements. Meanwhile, the House of Lords is to continue online working and plans to implement an online voting system.

The chaos smacks of no serious attempt to create even a form of parliamentary decision-making in any way in step with the requirements of what is happening. Events are such that as many as possible should be being involved in the discussion. Instead, the move is to further abandon any norms and, in so doing, attempt to consolidate Cabinet rule. But this itself is doomed to failure as there is no coherence in its positions. It is known that the Cabinet members were not even socially-distancing, resulting in a number of high-profile cases of infection including the Prime Minister himself. This elite body now makes not the slightest attempt at a veneer of parliamentary decision-making. It is simply the faction in power taking decisions from its executive bubble.

Furthermore, the factional politics, where even the party in power does not operate as a party, has been hotting up over the Cummings affair. As is now well-known, Boris Johnson's Special Adviser Dominic Cummings very brazenly broke the lockdown rules earlier in the outbreak. This has been taken up by the factional struggle in parliament, with various voices from within the Conservative Party calling for his resignation and seeing their opportunity to weaken the ruling faction. Cummings' own unapologetic and arrogant press conference on May 25 did nothing to alleviate the situation, and neither was it intended to. It was a plain declaration of arbitrariness. By May 27, over 30 Conservative MPs were in vocal revolt over the incident, claiming that it undermined the "moral authority" for the consent of the public.

For one thing, the affair has been an exposure of the role of the unelected "Special Adviser", which under the current government has taken on a new centrality. Cummings has been a key figure of the populist faction and its usurping of power, holding sway over decisions and appointments, even ministerial careers, while spearheading the use of data science and artificial intelligence in governance, following his former role as director and leading strategist of the Vote Leave campaign.

It has also further revealed the extent to which the rule of law itself has simply become a phrase. Rather, there is simply executive rule and government by police powers, in which a privileged political elite assume the right to do as they please while ruling over the populace. At the same time, the chaos in the ruling elite also lies exposed after Boris Johnson's extended absence while in intensive care and the barely-disguised jostling for position within the "Cabinet of equals" during that time.

Just like the parliamentary shenanigans last September, when the old constitutional norms were torn up, the present chaos and farcical scenes emphasise just how dysfunctional the parliamentary system has become. Lockdown or no lockdown, the democratic mechanisms should operate, and the issue is that none of them are doing so. Lockdown should not be an excuse for shutting down the mechanisms of decision-making further and increasing direct executive rule by police powers. Indeed, amongst the working class and progressive movements, people are using technology to increase participation in discussion in a way that has not been seen before, proving in real life that the technological possibilities exist for mass participation.

Authority at this time is descending into total crisis, resulting from its very being, which is completely out of step with the conditions of the times. There is a real threat of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, with present deaths standing at over 40,000. Accountability is a dead letter as the government figures act with impunity. By what standard can accountability be applied, amidst the mish-mash of paternal instincts, herd immunity, and the like, as though human beings were no more than animals? The government has demonstrated that in its schemes and incoherent guidance it treats people not as human beings but as things. The running of society in this way cannot but lead to farces and then to tragedies. Meanwhile, the people are doing what they can to sort out the problems as they occur, but are coming into contradiction with this incoherence and are blocked from having the power to sort out things at a national and local level.

The question is: how should democracy be organised so to open the path towards empowerment, and what is blocking that? All of this reveals the necessity for complete break with the political forms of the past. The issue is not to fix the existing state power, take it back to a better time, to return to business as was once usual. Something new has to be brought into being. People need to organise to speak in their own name, and further, not to look to somewhere else for authority, but to constitute themselves as the authority. To look elsewhere for authority is a block to empowerment and democratic renewal. People are cast as observers, and lockdown is being used to enforce this passive role. The answer is for working people to create their own political mechanisms and organisations. They should empower themselves by working out their own stands.

Article Index

Safe Reopening of Schools

Teachers and Education Workers Must Be the Decision-Makers

Following the government's decision, primary schools in England began reopening from June 1. But the issue is that the teachers and education workers should be the ones deciding all aspects, including assessing the risks of any return to work and how the education should be delivered.

The problem is that the government is still treating the whole question as one of individual choice, primarily because they are chiefly concerned with the financial implications, especially for independent schools in the private sector, and this means that no one can act with authority. And so there is no coherence to any decisions being made because there is no overarching plan or approach.

Some councils and education authorities, particularly in places such as Liverpool, have taken the decision to delay the return of schools as a centralised decision, in some cases until September, and this has meant that the educationalists in those authorities know where they stand and can organise what is provided for the children in their care in a planned way. This impacts on the sort of resources the authorities are able to provide, and the co-ordination of such things as maintaining cleaning of schools and provision of PPE and proper hygiene arrangements.

Those schools which can afford it, which is mainly those rich independent schools who can fund what is needed to be done, have organised extensive cleaning and the implementation of social distancing measures to satisfy the requirements as set. However, most of the state sector schools are not in that position and the government has certainly not paid proper attention to the extra funds needed to put in place all the measures needed to underpin any early return to school. And this policy of leaving it to individual schools and even individual teachers to decide, is placing an enormous weight of responsibility on the shoulders of those who are already struggling to deliver their curriculums online.

The other issue, which is seldom mentioned, is that any return to teaching in the class is expected to carry on alongside the online teaching. There appears to have been little discussion or recognition of what extra human power and resources are required to do this. This must not be ignored.

Teachers and Education Workers Must Be the Decision-Makers!

Article Index

Condemnation of British Government Warmongering

No Let Up in Exercises and Operations in Europe and the World During Coronavirus Pandemic

Throughout the spring and summer, numerous military exercises had been planned under the umbrella of US Defender Europe 2020. While on March 16 the US military scaled back the exercises with some elements cancelled in light of the pandemic, still many of the exercises have continued. While the rest of the world is still working to arrest the virus and stabilise the dangerous situation at hand, it is a provocation against all humanity that the US and British government, as well as other NATO members, continue to engage in aggressive military exercises in Europe as well as military operations interfering throughout the world in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Asia.

Before the March announcement, one of NATO's aims in Defender Europe 2020 was an exercise in the logistics of waging a war in Europe against Russia, where in fact no threat exists. With such a warmongering aim it could justly be argued that this was a crime against peace under the agreements signed following WWII. [1] It was the largest deployment of US-based military forces to Europe in more than 25 years, with 20,000 soldiers deployed directly from the US to Europe right at the time the virus pandemic was spreading throughout the continent. Eight European countries, with 14 air and seaports, were used to stage incoming personnel and equipment. Another 13,000 pieces of equipment were to be drawn from the Army Prepositioned Stocks in north-west Europe and deployed across 18 countries for training. The exercises were said to be to test the capabilities of European infrastructure - roads, bridges, train routing etc., for war. The British army moved large numbers of troops and heavy equipment, such as the retooled US Abrams battle tanks and US Bradley fighting vehicles into Belgium and from West to East and into the Netherlands and across mainland Europe into Poland. Chinook and Apache attack helicopters were also serviced and transported right across Europe. This exercise demonstrated the apparent new role of the British army as one of facilitating a potential US invasion of Europe, transporting and servicing the US army and its equipment and soldiers across the continent.

Under this umbrella of US Defender Europe 2020, exercises have continued on land, in the air and at sea. On May 29, HMS Ramsey replaced HMS Grimsby, arriving in the Baltic Sea during the second phase of a nine-day exercise by NATO and was deployed with the ships of other NATO group countries in the Baltic Sea, a sea that borders with Russia and other non-NATO countries Finland and Sweden. The aim of the NATO group was claimed to be "dedicated to eliminating the threat of historic mines", dealing with "present-day mines", and promoting "the alliance and freedom of the seas". On May 19, it was also reported that Royal Air Force Typhoons deployed in Lithuania have carried out mock air attacks and have been there to "primarily conduct the NATO Air Policing mission". On June 2 they claimed to have "carried out their first intercept of the operation, on a Russian Military Aircraft off the Baltic coast" - this where Russia is operating its aircraft off its own coast line! Also, Britain continues to lead Operation CABRIT, the ongoing UK operational deployment of a rotational force of 900 army personnel on the border with Russia in Estonia, where British troops are leading a multinational battle-group as part of the "Enhanced Forward Presence" (EFP) with NATO troops stationed as "combat ready" to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a persistent, rotational basis since 2016.

In the Black Sea and Mediterranean there have been similar state to state incidents reported in the press at the same time NATO "exercises" are taking place. For example, on May 29 the Daily Mail reported that the US military had claimed that Russian jets intercepted American strategic bombers as they flew over the "neutral waters" of the Black Sea, whilst the Russian Defence Ministry explained that after the Russian aircraft approached the American planes, the US planes "changed the direction of flight from the state border of the Russian Federation".

The British government have also currently deployed the army in over 80 countries around the world varying in strength from "military advisors" to "full operational deployments". The Ministry of Defence (MoD) UK Defence in Numbers 2019 [2] shows that Britain is "by far the largest NATO defence spender in Europe in absolute terms" with its military budget reaching £41.5 billion by 2020/21. The Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, pointed out in his Foreword to the publication that it "shows that the sector directly supports more than 100,000 jobs across the four nations of the United Kingdom and many more in the supply chain. It is expert in everything from shipbuilding and armoured vehicles to missiles and aerospace. And that it is the 2nd largest defence exporter in the world." He also boasted that the "NATO contribution is at 2.1 per cent of GDP" - cementing Britain's position as "Europe's leading Alliance member". And with an "extra £2.2bn to spend this year and next we'll be bringing in Type 31 Global Combat Ships, anti-submarine frigates and a new national cyber force".

During this period of the pandemic the people involved in anti-war movements all over the world have been very active in condemning this continued militarisation of economies and these warmongering "exercises" and operations. In Britain currently, the Stop the War Coalition is organising a series of large online webinar meetings against this warmongering in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of people taking part in London, Manchester and many other cities. Through its work, Stop the War calls attention to "the obscene financial cost of war which is starkly apparent", with the "increased spending that is taking place at a time when it has become clear that the NHS lacks a range of basic equipment and staff to test and treat Covid-19 cases". Stop the War gives the call that "there has never been a better time to campaign against foreign intervention and military deployment overseas".

It is unconscionable that, while the whole of humanity is united in continuing to face the pandemic together and to find solutions to the vital health problems, these governments, who have systematically brought about under-investment and privatisation of health and social care systems, cannot now mobilise human and material resources to protect the people in their hour of need. This, when these same governments in the US, Britain and their NATO allies continue to spend billions of pounds on military exercises and operations in Europe and all over the world. Enlightened humanity on the other hand demands that we put an end to the militarisation of the economy and to participating in global warmongering, and bring about an Anti-War Government that ends Britain's participation in aggressive military alliances such as NATO.


[1] Crime Against Peace

"To initiate a war of aggression," the Nuremberg Tribunal said, "is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime," for "it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." The four victorious nations whose judges issued the Final Judgment containing those words - the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France - had established the Tribunal to put top Nazi leaders on trial for three broad types of crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. "Crimes against peace," according to the London Agreement in which the four nations established the Tribunal, meant the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances."

[2] Ministry of Defence: UK Defence in Numbers 2019

Article Index

Hostility against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Britain's Complicity in the Agenda for Regime Change in Venezuela

Samuel Moncada, Permanent Representative of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela speaking to the United Nations on May 20

In a statement to a virtual public session of the UN Security Council on May 20, Samuel Moncada, Permanent Representative of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations, elaborated on the existence of a "Venezuela Reconstruction Unit" within the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Recent revelations in the international media had shown, Samuel Moncada said, that through this "Venezuela Reconstruction Unit", conversations were held between British officials, Venezuelan opposition figures and the conspirators of the armed incursion of May 3, promoting the need for guarantees of preferential status to be given to British companies in Venezuela after that act of aggression was successfully carried out. This new evidence that has now come to light, along with the looting of more than $1.7 billion in Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England, demonstrates once again, Samuel Moncada stressed, that the British government is an opportunistic accomplice in the colonial looting of Venezuela's riches. Furthermore, British warships remain outside Venezuelan territorial waters, in a hostile and confrontational attitude, along with Dutch, French and US warships, conveniently disguised as anti-drug operations, but actually intended to illegally establish a naval blockade against the Venezuelan people. The combination of military provocations with propaganda operations is a repeat of the old trick of plausible denial used in covert aggression, he explained.

The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) reports that Venezuelan authorities appeared in court in London on May 28 to demand that the Bank of England comply with instructions to sell part of the 31 tons of gold it holds on behalf of Venezuela. Venezuelan Central Bank President Calixto Ortega reported on Wednesday that an agreement had been made with the United Nations Development Programme that it would receive the proceeds of the sale, and these would be used to buy food, medicine and health imports to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and save many lives.

May 20 UNSC Virtual Meeting on the terror attack on Venezuela
The Bank of England, VSC explains, is arguably in breach of its contract with the Central Bank of Venezuela by refusing to comply with requests for repatriation of the gold on the pretext that the legitimacy of the Venezuelan government has been questioned. Such justification is demonstrably false, since the government of President Nicolas Maduro is recognised by the United Nations. Delcy Rodriguez, Venezuelan Vice-President, stated that behind the Bank of England's decision to freeze the Venezuelan gold lies a British government manoeuvre to strip Venezuela of its assets as part of an attempt at "regime change".

According to the law firm Zaiwalla & Co, the Venezuelan monetary institute already requested in April that gold be transferred directly to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

For the gold to be repatriated so that Venezuela may use its own gold reserves to fund vital supplies of food, medicine and other medical supplies is entirely just. It is not the first time that the Bank of England has used custody of monetary gold for hostile political ends. The gold must be repatriated immediately.

* * *

The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign is organising an online event this Monday, June 8, from 19:00-20:30 BST - "Venezuela - Exposing UK complicity in Trump's regime change agenda" - with guests from Venezuela, investigative journalist John McEvoy, Dr Francisco Dominguez, Susan Grey (VSC), Colin Burgon of Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America & Chair Tony Burke (Unite).

The organisers say:

Recent revelations of a 'Venezuela reconstruction unit' are just the latest in a long line of signals the British Government is working to Donald Trump's agenda for regime change.

From hosting coup-plotter Juan Guaido to the Bank of England's refusal to return gold held by the Venezuelan Government, Britain is again playing the role of the US's chief ally in pushing for intervention against a sovereign country in breach of international law.

This meeting will hear from journalists, campaigners and others based in Britain and Venezuela on exactly how far Britain has gone in promoting regime change, and what we can do to build opposition to illegal intervention


Article Index

Hostility against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

UK Steals $ 1 billion

Samuel Moncada, Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations, as reproduced in Voltaire Network, May 26, 2020

President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moros

I have the honour to address you to take the opportunity of denouncing the greatest robbery in the modern history of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which was perpetrated, thus far, with total impunity, by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in the midst of the worst pandemic that humanity has faced in the past 100 years.

For more than 20 years, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has had part of its gold reserves deposited at the Bank of England, as a guarantee to redeem promises to pay depositors and note holders, as well as a store of value and to support the value of our national currency. Nevertheless, in 2011, following the looting of Libyan gold reserves deposited at that very same British financial institution, the Venezuelan Government decided to repatriate a large part of the gold deposited at the Bank of England. Only a small part of those gold reserves, amounting today to over $1 billion, and which belong to the Venezuelan people, was left in the custody of the Bank of England, with the exclusive purpose of ensuring the proper conduct of the international financial operations of Venezuela.

Now, as we have previously denounced before the Security Council (see S/2019/117, S/PV.8476, S/PV.8506 and S/2020/337), since early 2019, the Bank of England has, in practice, stolen over $1 billion from Venezuela, as it has repeatedly refused to comply with the instructions provided by the account holder and owner of the gold reserves deposited at that financial institution - the Central Bank of Venezuela - to liquidate part of those resources, in order to use them for the procurement of basic goods and services to ensure the well-being of the Venezuelan people, including food, medicines and other essential supplies.

The Bank of England has argued, in writing, that, considering the decision of London's Government not to recognize President Nicolás Maduro Moros as Head of State and Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and following consultations with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, it has unilaterally and illegally decided to disown the authority of Mr. Calixto Ortega Sánchez, President of the Central Bank of Venezuela.

In doing so, the Bank of England has not only violated the sanctity of contracts and customary international law on the immunity from execution for the international reserves and assets of foreign central banks, but it has also proven to be neither a neutral nor a transparent financial institution, much less an independent or trustworthy one, thus destroying all the credibility that may have existed for it in the management of the resources of depositary countries.

Demonstration at the Bank of England demanding the return of Venezuelan gold

Hence, the Venezuelan experience shall serve yet as another warning to all those nations who still have resources under the custody of the Bank of England, since, apparently, it is possible that, at any given point, it could simply go beyond its role as depositary of international reserves and, instead, refuse to comply with the instructions provided by national central banks, disown the authority of national Governments and/or account holders and consequently proceed with the looting of funds deposited in its vaults.

Throughout 2020, the entire world has been grappling with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its multiple and devastating effects. In our case, the impact of this global emergency is aggravated as a result of the application of a criminal policy of economic asphyxiation and maximum calculated cruelty. Mindful of this reality and the significant impact that the pandemic is likely to have in a nation that was already torn by the pernicious effect of unilateral coercive measures, coupled with the fact that the Venezuelan economy had already been experiencing a deep economic recession, with high levels of hyperinflation, since at least 2014 - that is, since even before the imposition of the so-called sanctions - the Secretary-General of the United Nations included our country in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade that has been imposed against Venezuela impedes, among others, having regular access to the international financial system, to free trade and to basic needs for ensuring both the well-being and the right to life, health, food and development of our people. Consequently, thus far, it has been nearly impossible for our national Government to receive medical equipment assistance and procure medicines, personal protective equipment, vaccines and other supplies that are critical in the global fight against the novel coronavirus disease. As a result, the illegal application of "sanctions" in the midst of a pandemic is, without a doubt, undermining our national efforts and diminishing the prospects of successfully defeating COVID-19 at home, which, in the interconnected world in which we live, does nothing but heighten the risk for all of us.

In this connection, allow me to inform you that, since April 2020, the Central Bank of Venezuela has been engaged in conversations with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which agreed to receive funds aimed at procuring precisely those supplies, equipment and other humanitarian and medical assistance needed for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank of England was advised of this agreement and was instructed to liquidate part of the gold reserves, release the funds from that sale and transfer them to UNDP. Yet again, the Bank of England denied access to Venezuelan gold reserves deposited at that financial institution and refused to comply with the instructions provided by the lawful account holder - the Central Bank of Venezuela - which resulted in the filing of a legal claim on 14 May 2020.

In light of the above, and aggravated by the fact that advantage is being taken of a pandemic that is currently affecting humanity as a whole, three things are now crystal clear: (a) that the Bank of England is, in practice, an executing arm of the colonial policy of looting and pillage of the British Government; (b) that the United Kingdom is openly engaged in the perpetration of an act of extermination, which amounts to a crime against humanity, as per the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, given that it is intentionally inflicting "conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population"; and (c) that London's Government could not care less about the so-called humanitarian situation in Venezuela, as its sole intention, behaving as English pirates did 200 years ago, is to seize the spoils of war, that being precisely the ultimate purpose of the unit clandestinely established at the United Kingdom Foreign Office for the "reconstruction" of our country, as denounced before this body on 20 May 2020.

Lastly, I respectfully request your good offices, in your capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of May 2020, to circulate the present letter among the Member States of the Council for their due information, and that it be issued as a document of the Council.

Article Index

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