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article imageOp-Ed: US and UK refuse to let Venezuela have access to its own funds

By Ken Hanly     Jan 26, 2019 in Politics
The US the UK and EU have all imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela but the UK and US are also taking actions that are designed to keep Venezuela from having access to its own assets.
While some of the dire economic situation in Venezuela is due to inept government policies and corruption on the part of the Maduro government the situation is being made much worse by deliberate actions of the UK, US and EU. The EU in imposing economic sanctions knew quite well that the regime was already in huge economic trouble, even on the verge of collapse as described in this article. The UK followed the US in adding an embargo to the sanctions. To add to the misery the US and UK are ensuring that Venezuela has no access to its own assets in their respective countries.
Venezuelan gold in the UK
You would think that when you deposit something in the Bank of England that you could withdraw it when you need it to buy medicines, etc. as does Venezuela. Venezuela has $1.2 billion in gold in the Bank of England but has been denied permission to withdraw it.
The decision was in part no doubt due to US pressure as this article notes: "The Bank of England’s decision to deny Maduro officials’ withdrawal request comes after top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, lobbied their U.K. counterparts to help cut off the regime from its overseas assets, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified. "
The UK followed the US with others in recognizing Juan Guaido, the National Assembly leader as the legitimate president of Venezuela. US officials are trying to steer overseas assets to Guaido to help him gain effective control of the government.
The article notes: "The U.S. is leading an international effort to persuade Turkey -- a key Maduro backer, along with Russia and China -- to stop being a conduit for these gold shipments. Europe’s shift of position clarifies the international battles lines over Venezuela and aligns key powers such as Germany, France and Spain more closely with the Trump administration." In other words the US wants to starve Venezuela of funds so its people being worse off will rebel against him they hope.
The Bank of England declined to comment on the situation. However, there was a US statement: "The Treasury released a statement saying that the U.S. “will use its economic and diplomatic tools to ensure that commercial transactions by the Venezuelan Government, including those involving its state-owned enterprises and international reserves, are consistent with” its recognition of Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela."
Imagine you can deposit gold in a bank and then not be able to withdraw but then arrangements are being made so that someone else, an opponent of yours, can withdraw it.
A Harvard economics professor, Ricardo Hausman, put the matter succinctly: "The first rule of business as we speak is to stop the Maduro government from liquidating international assets of the country and steal them." Of course he means that Maduro will steal them the one who deposited them. You need to be a Harvard professor to read it that way rather than that the US is stealing them which seems to be the truth of the matter.
The Citgo situation
Citgo is a subsidiary of PDVSA owned by the Venezuelan government but Citgo headquarters are in the US. Trump has exempted Citgo from Venezuelan sanctions. The US has refineries specifically designed to refine Venezuelan heavy oil. There is one catch however. Venezuela will not be allowed to send its profits to Venezuela. Imagine a subsidiary is not allowed to send profits to its owners!
However, the US plans to go further and in effect expropriate Citgo's assets in the US and turn them over to Juan Guado's yet to be formed government: " The Treasury Department plans to claim Venezuela’s U.S.-based international reserves and state-owned assets - including oil refiner and distributor Citgo - on behalf of the newly recognized government headed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, removing them from the control of President Nicolás Maduro."
Another attempt to bankrupt Venezuela by not only keeping revenues from being sent to the owner of Citgo but removing the assets from Maduro's control. I thought communists were the ones who expropriate companies without compensation.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Sanctions on Venezuelan economy, Venezuelan gold in the UK, citigo
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