Venezuela begins gold shipments

Published: Nov. 26, 2011 at 1:05 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 26 (UPI) — The head of the Central Bank of Venezuela said shipments of gold to the bank from Europe gave the country a larger degree of financial independence.

“It has historic value. It has symbolic value. And it has financial value,” bank chief Nelson Merentes said about the first shipment of gold to arrive from Europe under orders from President Hugo Chavez, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday.

Chavez has ordered 85 percent of the country’s gold — about $11 billion worth — to be physically returned to Venezuela.

“The gold is returning to where it was always meant to be: the vaults of the Central Bank of Venezuela,” Chavez said.

Merentes supported the move, saying, “The country’s finances will be backed by autonomous wealth, so we are not subject to pressure from anyone.”

But some have complained that moving the gold has no purpose and is an expensive project.

Citing security reasons, authorities did not say how many shipments would be required for the gold to be repatriated from Europe to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital.

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