Thirty-one tons of gold, with an approximate value of 900 million euros, are the assets that the Nicolás Maduro regime has been trying to recover since 2018 from the vaults of the Bank of England. But the request of the interim president Juan Guaidó The British government (of Theresa May, at that time) to stop the repatriation of Venezuelan money has disrupted the Caracas plans.
Before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom from start to four days of hearings In order to elucidate to whom it gives the authority of the Venezuelan gold reserves, the Government of Boris Johnson has given a boost to the interim government and reiterated that it recognizes the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as president in charge of Venezuela, after not accepting the elections as valid. (May 2018) in which Maduro was re-elected to office. The United Kingdom thus joined the list of more than 60 countries, led by the United States and the Lima Group, of considering Maduro’s second term as illegitimate.
“The Government of the United Kingdom is clear that Juan Guaidó has been recognized by Her Majesty’s government since February 2019 as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.” So reads the statement published by the British Foreign Office, after being invited by the Supreme Court to clarify its position before holding the hearings. Minister Dominic Raab will speak at the sessions. This announcement “ratifies Guaidó’s recognition and should lead to confirming the 2020 sentence,” José Ignacio Hernández, professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at the Andrés Bello Catholic University and researcher at the Growth Lab at Harvard Kennedy School, tells ABC.
Interim government sources told ABC that “although there will not be a decision soon, the hearings will be a serious blow to the claims of the Maduro dictatorship, as regards the scope of recognition by the Government of His Majesty of the Government of Guaidó and the appointments made by he”.
Ingots to “repress the people”
The legal teams of both sides will be present this Monday in the Supreme Court, in what is supposed to be the last stage of this long dispute over reservations that represent 15% of the currencies of the South American country. In October 2020, a London appeals court annulled the decision, taken by the Supreme Court in July of that same year, which rejected the delivery to Caracas of the reservations requested by Maduro, because it considered that the recognition of Guaidó “could be in reality a mere political statement and that it was possible that the Johnson Executive would continue to recognize “de facto” the Maduro Administration ».
So now five magistrates from the highest jurisdiction in the United Kingdom must determine if indeed “the British government has recognized interim President Guaidó as head of state of Venezuela” for all purposes. If the interim Presidency gets a ruling in their favor, the power over these bullion is guaranteed and prevents the appropriation of the Chavista government, which in the words of Juan Guaidó “They could serve to repress the people or fill the pockets of a kleptocratic regime”. The appointment of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), chaired by Calixto Ortega, who traveled to London in 2018 to unsuccessfully repatriate Venezuelan gold, would also be questioned.
Caracas, for its part, has denied those statements and has assured that it needs the money to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Hernández explains that “(the Government of Venezuela) never presented a humanitarian aid plan. In addition, the gold deposited in the Bank of England is part of the international reserves, that are not intended to defray health costs, since the one who bears these expenses is the Government, not the BCV ”. “It would be necessary to liquidate the reserves and sign a loan between the BCV and the Government to be able to use these resources for health purposes. Maduro does not need to do this because he manages many more resources for oil exports. The proof of this is that he paid for the Covax vaccines using the resources he manages, “continues the professor and recalls that” long before the recognition of Guaidó Maduro he had tried – unsuccessfully – to reiterate the gold deposits. “
The decision of the judges may take several weeks, but it will have undoubted consequences at the diplomatic level.