Political Economy Journal: Piracy in 21st Century

BY: Valeria Rodriguez

PEJOURNAL – The United Kingdom and Venezuela are in a legal conflict over the Bank of London’s refusal to the government of Nicolás Maduro who requested the repatriation of $ 1 trillion in gold bars found in their vaults.

The Central Bank of Venezuela had to resort to legal actions so that the gold, which the Bank of England held in its name, was released to be able to spend it in the coronavirus crisis of the Latin American country.

It should be noted that in May of this year, Venezuela agreed with the United Nations to finance part of the development program for the UNDP to address humanitarian health needs before Covid19.

The Bank of England cannot refuse to return the gold to Venezuela but it found itself in a dilemma when it found itself faced with two claims, one from Maduro and the other from Guaidó, therefore it asked the English Justice to make the decision to define who was returned to him.

Likewise, the High Court of the United Kingdom, through Judge Nigel Teare, ruled that as “Her Majesty’s government recognizes Guaidó as interim constitutional president of Venezuela, does not recognize Maduro as constitutional president. Whatever the basis for recognition, His Majesty’s Government has unequivocally recognized Guaidó as President of Venezuela. ”

Therefore, the ruling was in favor of Guaidó, which means that he can make use of the assets held at the Bank of England.

This attitude is similar to that taken by the United States in January 2019 when the State Department gave Guidó control of the assets, assets and property of the Venezuelan government.

Bolton’s Confidences

The former national security adviser recently wrote a book confessing some secrets of the Trump administration’s foreign policy.

In chapter 9 dedicated to Venezuela, Bolton recounts a series of meetings to carry out a strong policy of pressure against Venezuela and, in turn, describes a meeting in Washington with the UK’s foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, who in Bolton’s words “was delighted to cooperate on the steps they could take, for example freezing Venezuelan gold deposits at the Bank of England so that the regime could not sell them”

This could account for an attempt to destabilize the Maduro government that, in addition to the sanctions imposed by the United States, the blockade by the United Kingdom would add to the strategy.

The United States has experience in using tools such as unilateral sanctions through national legislation, such as Executive Order 13692, which empowers the North American Treasury to monitor financial transactions.

Or, the emergency international economic powers law, which prohibits trade with sanctioned countries, which violates the right of self-determination of peoples and international covenants such as the 1966 International Covenant on Economic and Cultural Rights , which is signed and endorsed by both the United States and the United Kingdom.

What does international law say about this?

The fact that the British government does not recognize Nicolás Maduro as de jure president of Venezuela cannot be the justification for an economic blockade of his wealth, which is essential to cope with the pandemic that affects the Caribbean country.

On the other hand, for the United Nations, the official representative of Venezuela is Nicolás Maduro, which shows the nullity of the ruling in the first instance.

The use of the Venezuelan resources that are deposited in the Bank of the United Kingdom are the property of Venezuela and therefore, the Maduro government, who was elected under free elections, which had the participation of international observers, has the right to dispose of such resources that will be used to finance the UN-dependent nutritional development program for UNDP.

Denying the official government, not recognized by the United Kingdom despite having formal diplomatic relations, violates the right of sovereignty or self-determination of the peoples.

In fact, the United Nations Charter maintains that the right to self-determination of peoples is one of the guiding principles of international law, even its objective is “to promote friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. “

In turn, we can point out that the 1966 Covenant on Economic and Cultural Rights maintains that all peoples have the right to self-determination and for this reason they can freely establish their political status and provide for their economic, social and cultural development.

In turn, as the use of the resource is to cope with the humanitarian crisis in which it is subjected due to economic sanctions and the oil crisis, it would be violating Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic and Cultural Development, which states that it must ensure free access to health and food. Such are even basic rights corresponding to the Declaration of Human Rights.

Economic Sanctions and Blockades the new weapons of oppression

The United Kingdom uses its justice to buy time and continue, along with the United States, with the policy of pressuring Venezuela to a change of government through economic blockades and sanctions.

The blockades are not new, but began with an executive order of May 9, 2015 signed by former Democratic President Barack Obama as an extension of the sanctions issued by the US Congress in December 2014.

According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza the losses and inability to move the country’s securities amount to more than $ 1.4 trillion, in addition, by prohibiting the National Bank of Venezuela to carry out transactions in dollars that limit and interrupt operations with banks within and outside the United States, which translates into enormous costs and value losses that Venezuela must pay.

Finally, by blocking the country’s economy, it directly affects the people, since it depends on the import of food, medicine and machinery for internal production.

In addition to this, imports depend on resources from the sale of oil, which has also been blocked by economic sanctions.

In fact, the pressure of the North American government against India inhibited the doubling of the shipment of crude oil to the Asian country.

This new blockade promoted by the United Kingdom again hit the Venezuelan people as they were unable to access their resources, but it should be noted that this ruling is not the last word.