Venezuela to Begin Refining Gold in Turkey amid International Sanctions

About $7.7 billion of Venezuela's remaining $10.5 billion in foreign reserves are gold. The South American country is facing an economic crisis. File Photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI
Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI

The Central Bank of Venezuela has begun refining gold in Turkey in a bid to escape the pressure of international economic sanctions against the Maduro regime, the country’s mining minister announced on Wednesday.

At a press conference on Wednesday, mining minister Victor Cano revealed that the government had purchased gold from miners in the south of the country to protect its own assets. The gold will now be refined in Turkey before returning to Venezuela to become part of the central bank’s portfolio of assets.

“This is an agreement established with Turkey and the Venezuelan central bank,” said Cano. “It’s being done by allied countries because imagine (what would happen) if we sent gold to Switzerland and we are told that it has to stay there because of sanctions.”

Cano did not say which Turkish companies were involved in the refinement or how it will be refined, but did reveal the government had bought over nine tonnes of gold from small miners this year.

The refinement effort is part of the regime’s attempts to bypass economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other allies to pressure the Maduro regime as it continues to undermine democracy and commit egregious human rights violations.

Some of the sanctions include a ban on any American citizens dealing with the Venezuelan government or buying its debt, as well as personal sanctions against dictator Nicolás Maduro and other senior regime officials. Maduro has decried such moves as part of a U.S.-led “economic war” against his regime.

Such joint efforts between Turkey and Venezuela come amid warming relations between Maduro and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who recently invited Maduro to his presidential inauguration after receiving congratulations on an election victory that was marred by numerous irregularities.

During the visit, Maduro declared that he had attended “important work meetings with investors interested to participate in strategic sectors of our economy,” adding that “both nations will write new pages in the strengthening of partnerships for development and bilateral cooperation.”

The two men developed close relations after Erdogan invited Maduro to an anti-Israel summit in Turkey last November. The event was held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a response President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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