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  • Venezuela' self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, Caracas, March 3, 2020.

    Venezuela' self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, Caracas, March 3, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 July 2020

Juan Guaido recieved help from  U.S. President Donald Trump's administration to appropriate the resources of the Bolivarian nation.

On January 23, 2019, Juan Guaido swore in as President of Venezuela.  At that time he announced as one of his priorities, "to safeguard the nation's assets from the danger of falling into foreign hands due to the non-compliance of the Chavista authorities". With the support of Trump's administration, the conditions would be created for the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and the administration of millions of dollars under the excuse of "humanitarian aid to Venezuelans."


The U.K. Denies Venezuela Access to Gold for Food and Medicines

Thanks to "Guaido's government," the U.S. and its European allies have acquired an illegal source of resources, in the expectation of taking over the world's main oil reserve and important mineral deposits. In exchange, Guaidó and its allies administer sums in the millions, while the country is the victim of a criminal blockade and the theft of its assets. A broad list that we try to condense into ten points.

1- The first 20: As a gift of self-proclamation, on January 24, 2019, the State Department announced its intention to grant more than US$ 20 million to the "new government" to be used for "humanitarian aid" and in the "fight against food and medicine shortages".

2- Citibank Case: The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) agreed in 2015 to a US$ 1.6 billion loan with Citibank with gold from international reserves as collateral. In March 2019 the bank alleged "delay in the partial payment of commitments" and decided to settle the gold to collect all the debt at once. The difference between the value of the guarantee and the amount for which the loan was made to the Republic is given to the "interim government".  With the support of the U.S. government, Citibank transfers US$ 340 million from the BCV account to a Federal Reserve account held by the National Assembly.  The BCV described the act as vulgar dispossession of Venezuela's patrimony.

In May of this year, as a result of the debate on the Special Law for the Fund for Venezuela's Liberation and Attention to Cases of Vital Risk, Carlos Vecchio, Guaido's representative in the U.S., declared that this money had only managed to mobilize the approval of US$ 80 million, after reaching agreements with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The statement comes after information from the AP news agency, about the allocation of a monthly salary of US$5,000 for each deputy of those that make up the parallel National Assembly lead by Guaido.

In a statement from the interim's National Communication Center, the distribution of resources is explained: US$ 14 million for the program of support to the Parliament, and not to the direct payment of the deputies; US$ 4.5 million in "the defense of democracy"; social expenses for humanitarian attention (US$ 35.9 million); strengthening of communications (US$ 5.5 million); international relations and foreign service (US$ 8.8 million); special comptroller and judicial power (US$ 1.9 million) and the implementation of the budget (US$ 9.3 million).

3- Dismantling of CITGO: In 2014 the Canadian mining transnational Crystallex wins before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) the arbitration against Venezuela for losses caused by the nationalization in 2008 of the gold mine Las Cristinas. The center orders the Venezuelan State to pay 1.4 billion dollars in compensation.

In May of this year, the Delaware District Court approved the possible sale of CITGO shares, considering separately the claims of Crystallex and the U.S. independent producer ConocoPhillips, whose claim could reach $8.7 billion. There were agreements with both companies that the sanctions prevented from being fulfilled.

Since the signing in 2019 of the executive order of freezing all Venezuela's assets in U.S. territory, it is estimated that the illegal appropriation of Citgo cost the country $11 billion in frozen dividend losses. The "Guaido government" illegally assumed Citgo's directive to "protect Venezuela's assets". 
But in the action against Criystallex Guaido named as attorney general Jose Ignacio Hernandez, "expert witness" for the firm that defended the transnational in the legal process against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 2017. Hernandez presented the argument that PDVSA was "an alter ego of President Nicolas Maduro's government," so the Canadian company could collect the debt with Venezuela's assets sales in the U.S... Despite the clear conflict of interest, the "interim government" allocated $20 million for the "legal defense."

Following the ratification by the U.S. Supreme Court of the sale of CITGO Petroleum Corporation's refineries, the Delaware Court issued an order to proceed with the sale. According to legal records, CITGO is valued at USD 8 billion. It has three refineries located in Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois and a network of pipelines that cross 23 states, and contributes between 5 and 10 percent of the gasoline consumed in the United States.

The Venezuelan executive described these actions as "economic terrorism" and denounced the involvement of Juan Guaido and the U.S. government in a plan to appropriate the resources of the Bolivarian nation: Citgo; Monomeros (Colombia), PDV Caribe (throughout the Caribbean) and PDV América (in the continent).

4- The Novo Banco case in Portugal: In April 2019, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, asked the Portuguese government to declare itself in favor of the kidnapping at Novo Banco in Portugal of over 1.7 billion dollars that were destined to the purchase of medicines, food, vaccines, industrial supplies, seeds, and fertilizers.

The bank that inherited the cleaned-up assets of the extinct Banco Espírito Santo is 75% owned by the American venture capital fund Lone Star. From Novo Banco (Portugal), transfers were made to Banca Versilia (Italy) to pay for the Italian ATMO Association, with which there was an agreement to perform bone marrow transplants on children and adults. The health program with Italy was executed through CITGO, which was confiscated by the USA.

The National Assembly in contempt chaired by Guaido lobbied with the U.S. administration so that the resources would not be released. Dozens of patients were affected in their treatment in Italy and Argentina and several children died.

5- Venezuelan Gold Case at the Bank of England: The dispute with the Bank of England began when the United Kingdom recognized Juan Guaidó as interim President of Venezuela. The national government filed a lawsuit before the High Court of Justice of England for the withdrawal of US$1 billion in ingots to be sold and used to address the coronavirus pandemic.

In July of this year, the Court ratified the UK's position in favor of Guaidó. The congressman admits that he had interceded so that the resources would not be granted to President Maduro. "If the money is transferred... it will be used by the illegitimate and kleptocratic regime of Nicolás Maduro to repress and mistreat the Venezuelan people," he said in a letter sent to then British Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

8.- The battle against the Coronavirus: In March of this year, Guaido announced the management of 20 million dollars from "rescued accounts" abroad by its government to face the pandemic decreed by the coronavirus. The resources would be used to acquire material for medical and nursing personnel such as masks, gloves, gowns, caps, shoes, protective glasses, and water.

As with the whole issue of "humanitarian aid," the formula is repeated: non-governmental organizations related to the political organizations that support Guaidó would be responsible for acquiring and administering the implements. The aid would also include a $100 bonus for the country's health personnel who never arrived.

The first known lists revealed that most of the beneficiaries were not doctors or nurses but militants of opposition political organizations that support the "interim government.

The reality is that the national government, headed by Nicolas Maduro, is one of the few in the world that guarantees free testing, care, and treatment for patients with coronavirus.

9.- The Blockade: Until March 2019, thirty-five (35) instruments had been issued to apply unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela. The South American Human Rights Organization, in its report to the International Criminal Court this year on the recipients of unilateral coercive measures applied by the U.S., the European Union (EU), and other countries against Venezuela, establishes 140 persons, 118 companies, 65 aircraft, and 52 ships.

During "the interim government" the executive orders have been oriented to illegally confiscate several assets (financial and energy) of the country.

According to the economist Pascualina Cursio, all the unilateral coercive measures of the United States have generated a loss of 21.45 billion dollars to the nation, the attack on the currency of 41.691 billion dollars, the sabotage of oil production of 51.161 billion dollars, for a total of 114.302 billion dollars of loss for the nation

10.- New Legislation for the Management of Resources: In July of this year the National Assembly that supports Guaidó announced the approval of the Special Law of Public Contracting associated with the Defense, Recovery, Securing and Safeguarding of the Assets, Goods, and Interests of the Venezuelan State abroad and the Law for the Administration of Blocked Resources Abroad.

The first is aimed at locating foreign lawsuits in execution or with potential for execution, which are estimated at $15 billion corresponding to Venezuelan assets abroad.

The second proposes to locate the resources in a "Liberation Fund" that will begin with $80 million with the support of OFAC and the OAS.

The "government of Guaido" is workin on the "recovery for the country" of 500 million euros deposited in the Novo Banco entity in Portugal, awaiting a treatment similar to that given by the British government to the Ad hoc board of the BCV (Central Bank of Venezuela) to maintain the custody of the gold in the international reserves.

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