President Nicolas Maduro exposed on Nov. 23 that the provider of financial services Euroclear had frozen US$1.650 billion belonging to Venezuela, as a result of United States sanctions.
According to the president, who described the case as a "kidnapping," it is US$450 million in cash and US$1.20 billion in securities notes to import food and medicine that are in acute shortage in the country.
The US$450 million "they have had frozen for six weeks in Euroclear ... End the sequester of Venezuelan money abroad! " said the President during a ceremony celebrating his 55th birthday.
"We have in addition US$1.20 billion in bonds issued by the Republic, accepted by economic agents to sell us medicines (...) "and food, and they are holding our US$1.20 billion hostage,” he added.
Euroclear is a financial services giant, handling the custody of securities, headquartered in Brussels and with customers in over 90 countries.
Mature linked this issue to the sanctions imposed last August by the United States, prohibiting citizens of that country from negotiating new debt issued by the Venezuelan government and oil company PDVSA.
It is "the economic war that the imperialist government of the United States has imposed and is chasing money we have in the world", he said.
A source with information on this issue and who requested anonymity, recently told AFP that the Central Bank of Venezuela had had "its operations stopped by Euroclear", including food imports.
According to this version, due to sanctions from Washington, Venezuela must now comply with new requirements of the Office for the Control of Foreign Assets (OFAC) of the United States, which has hindered all transfers of funds.
Euroclear "cannot put at risk its market in the United States," said the source.
Venezuela and PDVSA — that provides 96 percent of the country’s hard currency — were rated in partial default by a group of creditors and the rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch, due to delayed interest and capital payments made on its securities debt.
Suffering from cash flow problems, Venezuela is also suffering from rising inflation which the IMF projects at more than 2,300 percent for 2018.
These problems are always laid at the government door as if no external factors were in play in creating either shortages of food and medicines and stoking soaring inflation. The fact is that Euroclear is just one example of how US sanctions are paralyzing imports of vital basic goods and contributing to a possible humanitarian crisis.
Venezuelan opposition leaders such as Julio Borges and Luis Florido have asked the US to impose economic sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to oust Maduro and the ruling socialist party from power. They have even suggested that the US “should send in the marines to restore democracy and tackle the crisis”.
The situation is very similar to what happened in Chile in 1973 when Allende was overthrown. The day after Allende’s death all the products being hidden from the population reappeared in the stores with new prices; inflation subsided and a new democracy was eventually spawned years later on the back of thousands of civilian deaths and torture.
The US and its agents such as Euroclear, Citibank, JP Morgan and others are all participating in this economic attack on Venezuela simply because they want to get their hands on the oil and gold reserves and do not like the democratic decision of the Venezuelan people that refuses to elect traitors such as Borges and Florido to position of real power.
None of these actors care about the suffering of the Venezuelan people since it is they, and they alone, that continue to stoke the flames of inflation and fuel the economic war.
First published in panorama.com.ve on Nov. 23, 2017.
Translated from Spanish by Arturo Rosales from Axis of Logic.