Hand Back Venezuela’s Money

On a cold wet evening I asked myself why I was standing on a dimly lit street corner in the CIty of London taking photographs of a small group of protesters. And I had an answer, that I wanted to try to draw attention to the real causes of the current situation in Venezuela, a country running out of money.

Venezuela is rich in natural resources, the largest known oil reserves in the world along with gold and other minerals. It was, and should be a wealthy country, but the problems have come because under Hugo Chavez, President from 1999 to 2013, it made a determined effort to share that wealth widely, eneacting wide-ranging social reforms and nationalising industries, creating neighbourhood councils and greatly improving access to food, housing, healthcare and education for the poor.

These policies brought the country into conflict with western dominated world economic agencies and countries, particularly the United States, leading to various sanctions, which, together with a steep drop in the price of oil have led to the current economic problems there, helped by a certain amount of corruption as well as political manouevering by the opposition largely right-wing middle classes whose dominance is threatened by the socialist programme.

Opposition voices dominate in the media coming out of the country and are widely reported in the UK media, with great prominence being given to anti-Maduro protests and little or no reporting of the large demonstrations in support of the government. The sanctions, particularly those imposed by the US seldom get a mention. As the US Congressional Research Service notes “For more than a decade, the United States has employed sanctions as a policy tool in response to activities of the Venezuelan government or Venezuelan individuals.” Sanctions were imposed under President Obama and have been stepped up under Trump, particularly over finanacial transactions and the oil industry.

The protest I was photographing was against one result of these sanctions, outside Euroclear, a J P Morgan Subsidiary in the City of London calling for the company to return over $1billion belonging to the Venezuelan government, sent to buy medicines and food for Venezuela. Euroclear accepted the money despite US sanctions which were in place, but has failed to release it, meaning that many Venezuelans, particularly children, will die because of lack of medicines.

So I was there taking pictures, though there wsn’t really a great deal to photograph, as you can see. And I sent them into the agency, knowing exactly how little interest there would be from the media in the story and little chance of them being used by the UK media¬†as they don’t support the story the UK press want to tell. But perhaps one day they may help to tell a story which I think should be told about Venezuela’s stolen money.

Hand Back Venezuela’s stolen money

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