Two of the most prominent allies of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, participated in a protest that was held outside the Bank of England today. The protestors are demanding that the Bank release more than £1 billion worth of gold to the regime of Nicolas Maduro, the socialist strongman of Venezuela.
The members of Maduro’s regime have laid the right to the gold reserves of the country that are held at the Bank.
Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, and Chris Williamson, a Labour MP, said that the Bank was guilty of “theft,” after it reportedly did not allow the transfer gold to a regime that is accused of human rights abuses, violence against political opponents, and widespread vote-rigging.
Livingstone stated: “The Bank of England has got involved in what I’d call a theft basically… but I’m not surprised, the Bank of England was never filled with lefties.”
Talking alongside him on Threadneedle Street, Williamson, the MP for Derby North, stated: “I think the Bank is acting, in my opinion, illegally and this amounts to state theft.”
Majority of the South American and European states, alongside Australia and the United States of America, recognise Juan Guaido, the opposition leader, as the interim president of Venezuela, after Maduro declined to call new elections.
In recent weeks, Venezuelans have been on the streets to protest against Maduro. It triggered clashes with National Guard security forces. According to the United Nations, a number of protesters have been killed, and hundreds have been detained.
Maduro once called Corbyn a “great friend of Venezuela.” The Labour Leader has criticised “outside interference” in the country. His remarks prompted criticism from some of his own MPs.
However, yesterday, Williamson, the arch-Corbyn supporter, stated: “There’s undoubtedly a crisis in Venezuela at the moment, but that’s not going to be helped by seizing the nation’s assets in this way.”
He added: “There’s no place for the Bank of England to be intervening in a partisan way.”
Livingstone, a former member of the Labour party, noted: “Maduro is the elected president. He is in control of Venezuela’s resources. It’s outrageous for the Bank of England to be interfering in another country.”
He added: “The Bank of England has never been about Britain’s interests. It’s about the international financial sector… You look at the history of Britain since the Second World War even under Labour governments, the Bank of England and the City of London are just broadly involved in making vast profits for themselves.”
Venezuela is believed to hold approximately £1.2 billion worth of gold at the Bank of England. Opposition figures say that the Maduro regime sold tonnes of gold in 2018 even without the approval of the National Assembly.
Last month, Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP, stated: “The transfer of any gold to Venezuela under the current conditions will only serve to line the private pockets of a corrupt regime.”
Maduro rose to power in 2013 after succeeding Hugo Chavez. He has driven the once oil-rich state to economic ruin, prompting millions of Venezuelans to leave the country amid food shortages and hyperinflation.