Photo by author
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson is willing to push sanctions against the Venezuelan government and move forward with the plan of designating Venezuelan gold as blood gold.”
With these words, Juan Guaidó’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vanessa Newman, summarized the results of the meeting between Venezuela’s caretaker President and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She added that the UK is looking forward to becoming a strong partner to post-transition Venezuela.
Boris Johnson is willing to push sanctions against the Venezuelan government and move forward with the plan of designating Venezuelan gold as blood gold.
Labeling mineral resources illegally mined by paramilitary groups in Venezuela and eventually sold by Maduro’s regime as “blood gold” (an analogy to “blood diamonds” mined from war zones in Africa) has been one of the strategies recently pushed by Guaidó, as a way to prevent Maduro from evading the U.S. sanctions.
Surrounded by hundreds of Venezuelan immigrants eating tequeños and drinking Polar beer, Guaidó gave a brief, yet moving speech at a posh arepera in East London, the second stop of his surprise world tour, which started last Sunday in Colombia.
“Two hundred years ago, a group of Venezuelans came to this great island looking for help to gain independence, and they got it. Have no doubt, we’ll get it too.”
The place didn’t feel particularly presidential, lacking the solemnity seen in Guaidó’s red carpet welcome in Colombia, only two days earlier. It did feel very Venezuelan: before Guaidó’s arrival, Zulian band Voz Veis was playing loudly in the background while a group of Venezuelan, Mexican and Bolivian attendees confronted a small group of left-wing activists yelling Hugo Chávez quotes and praising the Cuban revolution. A dozen London Police officers kept the groups away from each other and an alleged infiltrator was kicked out of the restaurant, after she was identified for previously crashing different Venezuelan opposition events in London. The chilling British winter, the lack of violence from the pro-chavista group, and the image of police forces actually doing their job, however, reminded everyone that we’re at the other side of the Atlantic.
Guaidó mentioned lawmaker Ismael León’s recent arrest in Caracas and said that “Venezuela suffers a kind of war,” meaning the devastating effects of inflation and the economic crisis in the country. “We may not have seen the bombs fall, but we do feel the pain (…) Venezuela isn’t polarized anymore. There’s a single country, united, facing a dictatorship. A dictatorship that we will soon defeat.”
After quoting Winston Churchill’s famous speech in front of the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940, Guaidó reminded a cheering crowd that even though his current tour was looking for more international support for the cause of Venezuelan democracy, only Venezuelans could actually make that happen.
“We will ask for all the help we need, have no doubt,” he said, while highlighting the role that social media has in spreading his message, given the censorship that prevents most traditional Venezuelan media from giving him airtime. “Some things are matters of state and I will discuss them when the time comes, but we must do our part, mobilize.”
Guaidó mentioned lawmaker Ismael León’s recent arrest in Caracas and said that “Venezuela suffers a kind of war”.
When asked about meeting President Donald Trump in the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos this week, Guaidó confirmed that he was planning to meet POTUS and other leaders. The ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, assured Caracas Chronicles that while the meeting hadn’t been yet confirmed, they were working hard to make it happen.
As Guaidó addressed the crowd, his office in Caracas was raided by Nicolás Maduro’s forces. He was informed about it by one of the journalists at the event.
“I’m just learning about this, but it doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Guaidó, just before he got into a black van that drove him away. Venezuelan flags waved in the cold air outside the restaurant.