Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 38, October 10, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Venezuela's Right to Self-Determination

Important Legal Victory in Effort to Recover Gold Seized by British Government

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

On October 5, the Court of Appeal granted the Venezuelan government's appeal of a decision handed down in July by the High Court that "unequivocally recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the president of Venezuela". The decision that was overturned effectively blocked the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela from accessing the country's 31 tonnes of gold reserves stored in the vaults of the Bank of England. The Venezuelan government's intent is to use part of the reserves, currently valued at around $1.8 billion, for humanitarian purposes by exchanging gold for funds that will be channelled through the United Nations Development Programme to import food, medications and other supplies which the government cannot obtain directly because of the criminal US blockade.

The appeal was launched by the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) against what it called the "absurd" and "unusual" decision by the High Court rejecting its right to repatriate the country's gold and denying the Venezuelan people access to the means they urgently need to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The perversity of the British government's legal-political operation in this case is revealed in the recently published memoir of former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton who said that in 2019 Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt expressed enthusiasm about participating in the US economic war against Venezuela, offering to assist "for example [by] freezing Venezuelan gold deposits in the Bank of England".

In 2018, and again in 2019, the Venezuelan government asked the Bank of England for access to its gold for humanitarian purposes and was denied both times. The second request - made after the US, supported by the Lima Group, put Juan Guaidó up to proclaiming himself president - was refused on the basis that Britain recognised the imposter and not Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate head of the country. It was in response to this spurious and illegal action of Britain that the BCV launched its legal battle on May 14.

The October 5 decision of the Appeal Court calls on the British government to clarify who exercises the de facto powers of head of state and head of government in Venezuela before a decision is made on who is entitled to have access to the country's gold reserves. The court has directed the British Commercial Court to establish this before any decision on the disposition of the reserves is taken.

The BCV applauded the Appeal Court's decision, saying in a statement on October 5 that it trusts the court's investigation will confirm its argument that while Britain may have recognised Guaidó as head of state in 2019 in words it in fact still recognises Nicolás Maduro as the person who exercises that role. Evidence of this is that the British government has not broken diplomatic relations with the Maduro government; both governments continue to maintain regular consular relations with ambassadors in each other's capitals. According to the Venezuelan legal team, the initial ruling ignored "the reality of the situation on the ground" in which the Maduro government is "in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions".

The BCV said it would continue taking all actions necessary to safeguard its "sovereign international reserves and the sacred patrimony of the Republic, which belong to the people of Venezuela".

While it is premature to declare victory in this fight, winning the appeal is an important step in dismantling the imperialist fraud by which the US puppet Guaidó is recognised as the "legitimate" president of Venezuela by the US and a shrinking handful of other countries.

During the past week another blow was struck against the regime change operation. The new Ambassador to Venezuela from the Swiss Confederation, Jürg Sprecher, presented his credentials to President Nicolás Maduro in a televised ceremony held in Miraflores Palace. Switzerland had been one of the first countries to recognise Guaidó after he proclaimed himself "interim president" on January 23, 2019.

(TML Weekly)


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