The idea of the United States directly intervening in Venezuela via military force has been off the table from the beginning. (The Trump administration did send someone to take a meeting with some coup plotters at one point, but nothing came of it.) But might there be some other way we could help knock their dictator Nicolas Maduro off his perch and give the people of that nation an opening to take back their government?

Maybe. Hitting their oil sales market through sanctions would be ineffective for two reasons. First, too many other nations would refuse to participate, particularly Russia and China. And second, their oil industry has pretty much imploded anyway. But one thing Maduro has a lot of (and is relying on heavily) is gold. Or perhaps we should say “had a lot of.” The Trump administration has basically shut off the supply of gold to Maduro by freezing his assets in the Bank of London. (Washington Post)

Socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro loves his country’s gold so much that he has waved bars of it around during rallies.

The Trump administration has taken notice and has tightened sanctions that effectively seal almost 16 tons of Venezuelan gold held by the Bank of England.

Although oil is seen as his government’s lifeline, Venezuela’s gold deposits are playing an unexpected role in helping Mr. Maduro cope with a cash crisis at a moment when U.S. sanctions have essentially blocked Caracas‘ ability to borrow funds from international markets.

Trump’s executive orders also bar American interests from engaging in any illicit sales of Venezuelan gold. This is expected to be a crippling maneuver because, with their oil industry on the skids and their own currency being worth less than toilet paper, gold sales have been Maduro’s primary means of getting his hands on U.S. dollars or other viable currency. And without hard cash to keep his own illicit operations running, Maduro may find his hold on power slipping away.

Maduro isn’t popular with his own people at this point and hordes of refugees have been fleeing the country, threatening the stability of the entire region. If the tyrant isn’t able to keep paying his military and his network of political operatives around the country, he could very well find himself on the losing end of an internal coup. Unfortunately, that would probably toss the country into even more chaos for a few years to come, but with people starving in the streets and lacking basic necessities like running water and medical supplies, how much worse could it really get?