British solidarity campaigners have hailed the reversal of a High Court ruling that handed £1 billion in Venezuelan gold reserves to an opposition leader.
On Monday the Court of Appeal overturned Justice Nigel Teare's July 2 judgement granting control over the 31 tonnes of gold belonging to state oil company PDVSA to Juan Guaidó, who made a rival claim to the presidency last year after United Socialist Party leader Nicolas Maduro's re-election.
Middlesex University senior lecturer and expert on Latin America Francisco Dominguez, who is also national secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, welcomed the ruling against Guaidó's claim to the bullion.
“The decision by the UK Appeal Court to annul the first verdict that allowed him access to the 31 tonnes of gold in the Bank of England is a substantial step in the right direction,” Dominguez told Sputnik.
“We must step up the campaign to demand that the retained resources are definitely given to the Venezuelan government so it uses it to continue fighting the pandemic by purchasing food, medicines and vital health inputs.”
Venezuelan authorities have pledged to deposit the bullion with the UN Development Programme, to be used exclusively to buy food and medicines for the South American country stricken by hyperinflation and a fuel shortage caused by US sanctions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guaidó, an MP for the Popular Will party, declared himself interim president in January 2019 with the support of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which he was speaker of at the time, along with the US and the European Union. He lost his position as speaker in January this year to Luís Parra of the Justice First party, but has contested the legitimacy of that vote as well as Maduro's re-election in 2018.
"At least they did not have the cheek to recognise Guadó as president," said Díaz, a constitutional lawyer. "In no part of the planet would they accept some guy swearing himself in."
She called the July 2 High Court ruling "judicial colonialism" that attempted to impose British law on Venezuelan constitutional matters.
But Díaz was not optimistic that the Bank of England would give the gold back that easily.
"I don't dare believe that they are going to hand over the money for any payment, I think they are going to continue their game of prolonging this situation," she said, adding: "as vulgar corsairs of the global empire, England will act accordingly."
And Diaz claimed the decision to deposit the bullion with the Bank of England was taken without the proper authorisation, insisting: "Whoever handed over that gold as guarantee on the part of the Venezuelan government should be tried and punished."