What will become of Chávez’s gold hoard?

by Peter Christian Hall, Reuter.com  |  published on March 16, 2013

chavez gold

In August 2011, while undergoing cancer treatments that ultimately failed him, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez began withdrawing 160 tons of gold from U.S., European and Canadian banks. “It’s coming to the place it never should have left. … The vaults of the central bank of Venezuela, not the bank of London or the bank of the United States. It’s our gold,” he said on national television as crowds cheered armored trucks carrying an initial bullion shipment to the central bank.

While Chávez suggested the gold repatriation might forestall a Libya-style seizure of Venezuela’s assets by Western powers he had antagonized, IHS Global Insight analyst Diego Moya-Ocampos told Reuters it might stymie potential claims by foreign corporations seeking compensation for nationalizations they had endured. Central Bank of Venezuela President Nelson Merentes said it was “an act of financial prudence and sovereignty” intended to guard against problems in the international markets.

The shipments, conducted by air after much talk of alternate delivery modes, concluded five months later in a celebratory caravan. (Germany’s doing it, too: Berlin has ordered repatriation of 674 metric tons of gold, worth $34 billion, from Paris and New York.)

The Caracas hoard would today be valued at around $9 billion, were it not for the fact that Venezuela has been selling it — about $550 million worth in the first eight months of 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. Did further sales follow over the past six months, with proceeds partly paying for the public largesse that helped fuel Chávez’s victorious up-from-the-sickbed presidential run?

Hint: Even with the additional cash from gold sales, Venezuela’s foreign exchange reserves hit a five-year low in September, three weeks before Chávez won a narrower-than-customary victory over Henrique Capriles, who will represent the opposition in a presidential election to be held on April 14.

Campaigning to hold the presidency for the Bolivarian Revolution will be Chávez’s designated successor, Nicolás Maduro, a former foreign minister, National Assembly speaker, union leader and bus driver who marched to free Chávez after the visionary army major’s attempted coup put him in jail for two years. A prominent target of Chávez’s rebellion in 1992 was Miraflores Palace, the executive office complex at which he later lived and where Maduro now works.

No comments yet - you can be the first!

Comments are closed.

Do you Love your country but hate your government?

Join your fellow Libertarians who seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. Join over 500,000 Americans who get their daily dose of minimal government and maximum freedom with The New Liberty Movement.

We know how important your privacy is and your information is SAFE with us. We’ll never sell
your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time directly from your inbox.
View our full privacy policy.