Perhaps one of the most salient observations of global politics falls within the confines of international law – who does international law serve? Whose interests does it serve? Is it relevant? These profound interrogations stem from the fact that the world’s superpowers do anything they want and get away with it. And while they assault people’s livelihoods all over the globe under the pretext of humanitarian intervention for democratic purposes, they do not favor being questioned and held accountable for their actions. It is their impunity that is repulsive.
Venezuela’s case then stands out. The United States has been on a relentless quest to undermine Venezuelan democracy, supported by its Western allies and right-wing governments in Latin America. This is seen through the imposition of sanctions on Venezuela in a bid to force Nicolas Maduro to leave power as the president of the country. Because of the sanctions, Venezuelan gold is held up by the Bank of England and is worth nearly $2 billion. Amid a litany of court proceedings and rulings, the United Kingdom has refused to hand over the gold inside the Bank of England’s vaults. Central banks in the world use the Bank of England to store their gold reserves – the bank is the second-largest keeper of gold in the world behind the New York Federal Reserve.
The sanctions imposed on Venezuela mean that its foreign assets are frozen, and the US last year told bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other international financiers not to deal in “gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia.” It has now come to light that the US State Department may have exerted enormous pressure on the British Foreign Office to keep the frozen Venezuelan gold, denying the Maduro government of much-needed funds to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and the concomitant socio-economic troubles.
John McEvoy, an independent journalist from the UK, revealed this information via his Twitter account. The emails he tweeted reveal how the UK was concerned about information related to Venezuelan gold being shared, saying such information could harm British relations with both the United States and Venezuela. It implies the secrecy of US pressure on the UK to retain Venezuelan gold. In January 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, “put pressure on their UK counterparts to help isolate the regime from its assets abroad” according to a Bloomberg report.
Email showing British secrecy regarding communication with the US
The Bank of England has refused to hand over the gold under the discourse of “not sponsoring torture.” The Bank maintained this position after US pressure on their British counterparts to cut “the Venezuelan authorities’ access to their assets abroad.” The journalist highlighted what John Bolton said in his book ‘The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,’ – the British Foreign Secretary was willing to cooperate in sabotaging the Maduro government by putting financial pressure on the president.
International law is being disregarded by denying the Venezuelan people what belongs to them. It raises the important question of the significance of international law if the superpowers are getting away with the atrocities they are committing.