Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on Tuesday said that Caracas is “girding itself for battle” in case the highest court in Britain recognizes Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader, in a case that could determine the fate of US$1 billion of gold.
A British legal battle lasting more than a year has ended up at the British Supreme Court for four days of deliberations that started on Monday.
At the heart of the case is who has the power to direct the release of Venezuela’s 32 tonnes of gold reserves: the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro or former Venezuelan National Assembly speaker Guaido, who claimed election fraud and declared himself interim president, a move recognized by 50 countries.
“Venezuela is girding for an historic battle for the gold that belongs to everyone and to all the Venezuelans in England ... gold that illegal [sic] appropriated,” Rodriguez said during a speech in Caracas. “Who can have confidence in depositing their gold for safekeeping in the Bank of England if tomorrow it just occurs to someone ... not to recognize a government to retain the resources of a country?”
The British Court of Appeal in October last year asked for a re-examination of a British High Court judgement that said the British government “unequivocally recognized” Venezuela’s opposition leader as president.
The High Court interpreted a statement by former British secretary of foreign affairs Jeremy Hunt as meaning that London backed Guaido as interim president.
The British court rulings have been made in connection with a dispute over gold reserves that Venezuela’s central bank wants the Bank of England to release.
The Bank of England said it could not act on the instructions because of competing claims for the presidency after the disputed Venezuelan elections in 2018.
Ahead of this week’s hearing, the British government maintained in a statement that it “has the right to decide who to recognize as the legitimate head of a foreign state.”
“The UK recognizes Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela and consequentially he is the only individual recognized to have the authority to act on behalf of Venezuela as its head of state,” it said.
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