Venezuela is almost out of cash and can't easily sell its remaining gold

Venezuela’s reserves are at a three decade low and most of that money is in the form of gold that the regime either can’t access or can’t sell. What remains is less than a billion dollars in cash reserves:

Venezuela’s central bank now has only about $800 million left in cash and an additional $200 million of other liquid assets, according to three people with knowledge of the bank’s balance sheet. While the country holds some 73 tons of gold in local vaults, selling it has become increasingly difficult amid the U.S. efforts to cut off Nicolas Maduro’s regime from a global network of buyers, banks and middlemen.

The 73 tons of gold is worth $3.6 billion but because of sanctions the country can’t sell it to anyone who does business with the U.S. In addition, Venezuela has another 32 tons of gold being held in the Bank of England. However, because England (and more than 50 other countries) don’t recognize Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president, he can’t touch that either.

As Business Insider points out, this means that Venezuela’s cash reserves are now below the net worth of Kylie Jenner. Maybe Maduro should hit Sean Penn up for a loan. Without cash, Maduro won’t be able to import food that he uses to supply loyalists as part of his CLAP program. Support for the regime is already near rock bottom but without the food supplies, the desire to see him leave office is likely to surge.

As the collapse continues around, Maduro is still holding onto political power. Earlier this month, Jazz pointed out that Maduro’s National Guard blocked elected opposition members from entering the National Assembly. Since then the National Assembly has held meetings in a theater and, as of today, outside:

The lawmakers held a makeshift meeting in an open-air public square in an opposition-friendly part of Caracas away from downtown. They sat on chairs set up before a stage amid trees and backed by their flag-colored streamer and emblem.

It was the third consecutive week that groups of armed civilians known as “colectivos” and security forces have blocked access for members of the National Assembly, the last major national institution under opposition control and the center of the struggle over who governs the crisis-wracked nation.

Those “colectivos” are government thugs on motorcycles who do the regime’s bidding for the good of the revolution. But Maduro has to be wondering how long the colectivos will remain loyal if their government food supplies are cut.

Meanwhile, Juan Guaido defied a government travel ban to go to neighboring Colombia where he met with that nation’s president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That open defiance sets up a difficult problem for Maduro:

If Mr. Maduro arrests Mr. Guaidó upon his return to Venezuela, that could rally domestic and international support around the opposition leader. But if Mr. Maduro allows him to return, he could seem powerless to enforce his own government’s travel ban.

Maduro’s days seem numbered, but as long as he retains the support of China and Russia he could potentially hang on to power, albeit in a ruined, fractured country.