Sources to Bloomberg have claimed that The Bank of England (BOE) is refusing to release $1.2 billion USD of Venezuela’s gold to the country’s officials.
A delegation led by Calixto Ortega, president of Venezuela’s central bank, reportedly visited London in December seeking access to the gold.
But one source says the BOE is bowing to requests from US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, asking them not to release the gold to Venezuela.
Bloomberg states that the Venezuelan central bank holds an estimated $8 billion in foreign reserves, though the location of most of those assets is “largely unknown.”
The Venezuelan capital was reportedly rocked by protests this week as hundreds of thousands flooded the streets to protest the re-election of Nicolas Maduro, the chosen successor of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s first democratically-elected Socialist president.
According to Euronews, dozens of protestors have died during clashes with police, who appear to have been firing into crowds.
According to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), during the course of the protests, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself the interim president of Venezuela, and the US Secretary of State publicly backed the move.
Then, on Saturday, January 26th:
“Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Belgium all said…they would recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president unless President Nicolas Maduro called fresh elections within eight days.”
The Maduro presidency has been supported by China, Russia and Turkey, and Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has reportedly called the 8-day deadline for a new election ‘absurd.’
According to Al Jazeera, numerous Venezuelan military leaders have expressed loyalty to Maduro since the protests broke out.
Declining conditions and hyperinflation in Venezuala have prompted to tens of thousands of citizens to flee the country this year, and certain regions may be close to “famine.”
Also on Saturday, a protest was held in Toronto by supporters of the Maduro government, who characterized the attempted unseating of Maduro this week as a coup attempt backed by US imperialists and corporate interests seeking to “control the world.”
Two Venezuelans spoke to Crowdfund Insider at the protest.
One admitted that corruption is an issue in Venezuela, but noted that corruption is also a presence in the US, where, “the economy is based on all the money that is printed (by) the Fed, feeding large corporations all over the world, money being wasted in arms sales…”
The protestor added:
“I know and can (not) hide that there is some corruption within the government of (Venezuela), of course…but…Who is free of guilt? Which country is managing its own finances so cleanly that it’s free to blame the faults that are going on back home..?”
According to that protestor, corrupt individuals, “do not represent the vast majority of people that (are) doing the hard work…trying to manage the resources for the better(ment) of everyone.”
The same individual claimed that illiteracy has been virtually eradicated in Venezuela since the ascent of socialism there.
The protestor said the BOE’s decision to withhold Venezuela’s gold is likely coercive.
“Now they are using that excuse, the Government of (the) UK…they know they can use (the gold) as a ransom because they want a regime change- by force.”
This protestor also said calls for an election by foreign governments violate the Venezuelan constitution.
The other protestor said she hopes recent developments increase dialogue between the government and the opposition in Venezuela, and said that “the majority of the (Venezuelan) people…want new elections. Maybe this could be the answer to ‘bipolar’ (politics in Venezuela).”
“It’s very hard because the rest of the people are suffering very much- too much- there.”