Photo: Hugo Chavez
The Venezuelan central bank reported that about $300 million in gold was brought in to Caracas by plane and taken to the Central Bank Friday.
As he promised in August, Chávez is bringing back 85% of the Venezuelan gold reserve—160 tons worth approximately $11bn, to keep it in the capital’s Central Bank.
Hundreds of Venezuelans waved Venezuelan flags while chanting “It’s returned! It’s returned!” as armored cars flanked by soldiers carried the first gold bullion to the Central Bank from Maiquetia airport. Two light tanks escorted the shipment.
“The gold is returning to where it was always meant to be: the vaults of the Central Bank of Venezuela,” Said Chávez.
“It has historic value. It has symbolic value. And it has financial value,” bank chief Merentes said about the first shipment.
“Each box of gold weighs 500 kilograms and is worth about $30 million,” Merentes said before cheering crowds. “We’ll bring the rest back little by little.”
President Chávez explained the move as an act of patriotic sovereignty, that will protect Venezuela’s assets from the turmoil of the current world economy.
Critics say the move is unnecessary and expensive, some calling it a populist call, aimed at boosting Chávez’s popularity ahead of next year’s elections.
Others have suggested that the repatriation of the country’s gold reserves might answer to Chavez’s own concerns that in the near future, the nation’s assets could be frozen by sanctions like it happened to his friend, the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
According to the World Gold Council, Venezuela holds the 15th largest gold reserves “It’s the economic reserve for our kids. It’s growing, and it’s going to keep growing, both gold and economic reserves” Chávez said.