WASHINGTON, – The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Michael Kozak said Monday that Washington is not aware that Venezuelan gold was being smuggled to Guyana to help maintain Nicolas Maduro administration in power.
But he told reporters during a virtual news briefing on the side lines of the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly that that illegally mined gold from that the South American country was being sold in the Middle East.
“In the case of other gold, though, it’s being illegally mined, damaging the environment, involving trafficking in persons issues and so on and we’ve put a special effort on trying to put a stop to that. We see a lot of it being smuggled to the Middle East.
Kozak said he did not know whether Venezuelan gold was being smuggled to Guyana or Suriname, but that the US was doing its best to cooperate with other governments “to put a stop to that”.
His remarks follow last month’s visit to Guyana by United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in which he discussed the ongoing situation in Venezuela where Washington is seeking to remove the Maduro government that is supported by Russia, China and Cuba among other countries.
The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping of which Guyana is a member, has already said it would not support any interference or intervention in the internal affairs of the country. Washington is backing Opposition Leader Juan Guaido as the replacement for Maduro.
The OAs does not recognise the Maduro government and has instead welcomed the Guadio’s representative as the country’s representative on the hemispheric body.
The OAS is expected this week to seek approval of “strong resolutions” against Venezuela and “stronger action” against Cuba.
Kozak told reporters that the Donald Tromp administration was also working to stop Maduro, whom he described as the “usurper” from putting his hand on lawfully mined gold.