This Friday, August 5, the Venezuelan government presented diplomatic letters signed by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom addressed to President Nicolás Maduro, in which the Queen recognizes Maduro as the head of state and government of Venezuela. These letters will be used as evidence by the Venezuelan government to demand access to the 31 tons of gold that remain seized in the Bank of England, reported financial news agency Bloomberg.
The president of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), Calixto Ortega, said, “The diplomatic correspondence is evidence that the United Kingdom recognized Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela.” According to Ortega, these letters also “undermine” the ruling of a British court that refused to return gold, while ruling on the case on July 29.
“The bullions, which are stored in the vaults of the Bank of England, represent about a fifth of Venezuela’s $5.2 billion in international reserves, excluding the Special Drawing Rights with the International Monetary Fund which the country currently cannot access,” added the Bloomberg report.
“Three letters signed by the queen make for an official position,” BCV President Ortega told Bloomberg in Paris, while returning to Caracas from London where he discussed the issue with lawyers.
He further added that the United Kingdom has issued visas to Venezuelan officials. As proof of this, he showed his own passport—which is of diplomatic status—in which eight visas issued by London since June 2018 have been stamped.
On the other side of the board, things are more or less the same, as the British chargé d’affaires in Venezuela requested a visa from the Maduro government in 2021 and it was Maduro’s government that granted it.
What do the letters say?
The president of the Central Bank of Venezuela showed Bloomberg two letters signed by Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as head of state of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. “In the first letter she notifies notifies him of a change in the Caribbean nation’s representative based in Caracas, while in the second she requests that Maduro accredit a new one.” In another letter, the Queen wrote to Maduro on behalf of the government of Saint Lucia.
In all three letters, Queen Elizabeth II used the salutation “His Excellency Nicolás Maduro Moros President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
Ortega specified that this diplomatic documentation was given to him by the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so it is clearly considered official information.
For its part, the United Kingdom Foreign Office responded in writing to a request for comment from Bloomberg with the following text: “Her Majesty the Queen does not act as the UK head of state when acting as head of state of any of her other realms,” and reiterated that London continues to recognize Juan Guaidó as “president in charge” of Venezuela.
Venezuela’s new legal strategy
Calixto Ortega told Bloomberg that the legal team representing the Venezuelan government will decide on its new strategy next week, as the Venezuelan government prepares for an appeal against the July 29 ruling.
However, Ortega added that trying to include these letters as new evidence may further delay the judicial process.
Meanwhile, President Maduro has warned that the London court’s ruling will eventually have “enormous consequences” for other countries that have deposited part of their international reserves in British banks, an obligation covertly imposed by risk rating agencies, which affects the ability of countries to access loans and credits from international financial institutions.
Along the same lines, Ortega pointed out that “what is at stake here is London’s reputation as the most neutral and reliable place to do business in the world.”
“They say one thing in court while, in fact, they behave differently,” he added.
Despite the obvious diplomatic channel that exists between Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and Miraflores, British courts, including the UK Supreme Court, have insisted on UK’s “clear and unequivocal recognition” of former deputy Guaidó as president of Venezuela.
The contradiction has been justified based on the apparent independence of the judiciary from political decisions. However, the case headed by Judge Sara Cockerill discussed the legitimacy and independence of Venezuelan institutions, in a clear demonstration of interference in the internal affairs of other countries and contempt for the authorities of the Venezuelan State.
However, despite London’s insistence on supporting the illegitimate parallel administration of Guaidó, Cockerill did not grant control of Venezuelan gold to Guaidó either. Instead, the court ruled that this would have to be decided in a separate trial, the date of which has not yet been announced.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune