The UK High Court has ruled against the Venezuelan government over their right to access their country’s gold reserves. This follows a request by Juan Guaidó, who the British government recognises as Venezuela’s ‘real’ President, to appeal previous rulings on the matter. The Bank of England currently holds £1.4 billion of the Venezuelan people’s gold reserves.
The legal dispute began in 2020, when the Maduro-appointed board of the Central Bank of Venezuela requested the Bank of England to sell some of their gold. The Bank of England refused, as Juan Guaidó had appointed his own board to the Central Bank, who told the Bank of England not to sell the gold.
This brought the matter to the UK High Court for the first time, which initially ruled against Maduro. However the president’s legal team was able to successfully appeal this ruling. Despite this, Guaidó has since successfully requested that the UK Supreme Court take the case back to the High Court.
Upon the conclusion of this most recent legal battle, Justice Sara Cockerill upheld the right of the High Court to question the legitimacy of the Guaidó board’s decisions, in light of rulings by Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice (STJ) which declared the board illegitimate. Yet Justice Cockerill also ruled that the STJ rulings did not concern property rights, and could therefore not be recognised by UK courts on the matter of who controls Venezuela’s assets.
The Maduro-appointed board rejected the court’s decision, saying that it would use “all legal action at its disposal to appeal this unusual and disastrous” ruling. Sarosh Zaiwalla of Zaiwalla & Co, who represented Maduro’s side in court, argues, “The BCV [Central Bank of Venezuela] remains concerned that the cumulative effect of the judgments of the English Court appears to accord a simple statement by the UK Government recognising as a head of state a person with no effective control or power over any part of that state”.
It seems clear that the UK state has committed nothing short of daylight robbery of the Venezuelan people. That gold in the Bank of England belongs to them. To prevent access for the sake of Guaidó, a pretender with no democratic basis to his claim of president, makes clear that this decision serves only to wage economic warfare against Venezuela. This only adds to the hardship the Venezuelan people already face as a result of the USA’s illegitimate sanctions.
The Communist Party of Venezuela responded to the High Court ruling, rightly arguing “The British justice system takes a step further in the violation of international law and the usurpation in the administration of economic resources owned by the Venezuelan nation, employing the unlawful pretext of recognizing false government authorities other than those resulting from the election processes established by the Venezuelan Constitution and laws.”
The statement, issued by the Political Bureau of the Party’s Central Committee, continued, “We demand the immediate lifting of the unilateral coercive measures maintained against the country, and we insist for legal action against Juan Guaidó and all those who have been in charge of stimulating these illegal actions against the Venezuelan people.
“We call on the Government and the Venezuelan State so that instead of directing the repressive apparatus of the public force and the justice system to intimidate and criminalize the legitimate struggles of the working class for their right to a fair wage, they direct their energies in bringing justice and prosecuting those responsible for stimulating sanctions and the usurpation of wealth owned by the Republic.”
Mia English, is a member of the YCL’s Manchester branch