It was only a matter of time before Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took steps to offset the decision that the U.S. government made against his country. On March 9th, President Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela a national threat after seven of the country’s officials were involved in a diplomatic dispute with the U.S.
Maduro has put together a special authoritarian law that would allow him to “preserve the peace, integrity, and sovereignty of Venezuela.” Bloomberg quoted the Venezuelan President saying that the U.S. is hiding behind human rights issues in order to justify a possible invasion of Venezuela, prompting Maduro to lead a special defensive military exercise on March 14th.
According to Reuters, Maduro is now negotiating with some Wall Street bankers for $1.5 billion in exchange for some of Venezuela’s gold reserves. About 1.4 million troy ounces will be shelled out by Venezuela as payment for the country’s near-term debt and obligations. Much of Venezuela’s reserves are in gold, since the late President Hugo Chavez withdrawn most of Venezuela’s assets away from the dollar after the 2008 economic recession happened. Countries and private investors generally turn to gold as insurance when there’s financial instability, and when real returns on investments are falling.
Oil is Venezuela’s primary source of export and the recent decline of the commodity’s prices has put a huge dent on Venezuela’s economy. The country wasn’t able to count on China for additional post-security money, since it already donated over $20 billion to Venezuela in order to help the nation offset the negative impact of dwindling oil prices.
Analysts are skeptical that the $1.5 billion will be enough for Venezuela to endure the sanctions given by the U.S. government. Some critics believe that the country’s liquidation will accelerate due to the “maturity of a 1 billion euro bond this month, as well as coupon payments of nearly $700 million in April.”
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