Hugo Chávez brings home the gold

Is the Venezuelan president really spooked by the markets or just shoring up finances?

Hugo brings home the gold


In a move that he’s portraying as financial prudence in the face of market turmoil, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has ordered over $6 billion in cash reserves to be relocated from accounts in Britain and Switzerland to China, Brazil and Russia, and over 200 tonnes of gold repatriated. The measure, he said, is aimed at sheltering Venezuela from “a crisis of uncertainty” in the global economy. Admittedly, with the world on the brink of a possible double dip into recession, Britain struck by riots on top of a sluggish economy, and even Switzerland recently engaging in dubious manoeuvring to force a depreciation of the Swiss franc, Chávez may have a point. Some critics, though, suspect the Venezuelan autocrat is simply shoring up resources as he heads into a difficult presidential election this fall after recently being diagnosed with cancer. Interestingly, others argue that Chávez was spooked by the fate of his close friend Col. Moammar Gadhafi, whose financial assets in the West were frozen at the outset of the Libyan revolution.

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