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First repatriated gold shipment lands in Venezuela

In World News on November 28, 2011 at 3:41 am

By Daniel Wallis

Amid wild celebrations, a first shipment of gold bars arrived home in Venezuela on Friday after President Hugo Chavez ordered almost all the country’s foreign bullion reserves be repatriated from Western banks.

Excited crowds lined the roadside waving big Venezuelan flags and chanting “It’s returned! It’s returned!” as a convoy of soldiers and armored cars carried the ingots from Maiquetia airport to the central bank in Caracas.

Experts had cautioned that the operation, which will eventually transport more than 160 tons of gold bars worth more than $11 billion to the South American country, would be risky, slow and expensive.

Nelson Merentes, the president of the central bank, traveled into the city at the head of the convoy. He did not say how much gold was brought back in Friday’s shipment but said the bullion came from several European countries.

“Our gold is being stored in the vaults,” Merentes, sporting a baseball cap that read “The Central Bank of Venezuela with the People,” told the cheering crowds.

“We cannot give exact dates (for when the rest of the bars will arrive) due to questions of security. When we bring the last shipment, the people will learn about it.”

Drums and sirens sounded out across the square as many in the crowd sang “Forward comandante!” in support of the president. Some waved homemade signs that said: “The gold has returned thanks to Chavez!” and “Long live our sovereignty!”

Chavez announced the repatriation in August as a “sovereign” step that would help protect Venezuela’s foreign reserves from economic turmoil in the United States and Europe. Most of Venezuela’s gold held abroad is…

Full article…

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