International Intrigue Over Venezuela’s Gold Could Help Decide Maduro’s Fate

International Intrigue Over Venezuela’s Gold Could Help Decide Maduro’s Fate
Venezuelan Bolivar bills arranged on a table in a bookshop in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 28, 2019 (DPA photo by Marcelo Perez del Carpio via AP Images).

A country’s gold reserves are meant to provide stability and financial ballast, not cash for everyday purchases. Only in the most extreme cases do they become a source of currency for vital supplies. That is exactly what is happening in Venezuela, where the political crisis has triggered the kind of international intrigue usually scripted in Hollywood. The embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro is trying to cash in its reserves while the opposition and its foreign backers maneuver to keep the country’s gold and any hard currency from its sale out of Maduro’s hands.

This intrigue involving bank vaults and gold bars being flown around the world has become part of the pivotal standoff between the opposition, led by National Assembly chief Juan Guaido, and the Maduro administration. Guaido, who took the oath of office last month as the country’s “provisional president” after the assembly declared Maduro’s presidency illegitimate, is counting on the international community to cut off Maduro’s access to Venezuela’s wealth. The international effort is led by the Trump administration, which is transferring control of national assets to the opposition and moving to block Maduro at every turn.

The opposition strategy is to squeeze Maduro until he is forced to leave office. To do that, it wants to stanch the flow of hard currency into the coffers of the cash-starved regime.

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