New York – Carrying signs reading “Goldman Sachs deals in Blood Money” and chanting “Hunger bonds Goldman Sachs, We will not pay them back,” protestors gathered outside the investment bank’s headquarters in New York City for the second day in a row to voice their anger over the bank’s purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of Venezuelan bonds.
While Goldman Sachs said in a statement that it acquired the bonds "on the secondary market from a broker and did not interact” with the beleaguered socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, that has done little to assuage the anger that many Venezuelans – both at home and in the U.S. – feel toward the investment bank’s move.
“Goldman Sachs’ purchase of these bonds gives fuel to Maduro’s dictatorship,” Sebastian Coloma, an organizer with SOS Venezuela, the group behind the protests in New York, told Fox News. “We can’t allow their personal interests to take over and ignore the violations of human rights in Venezuela.”
Besides the New York demonstrations, another protest is planned for Thursday in Miami, home to a large Venezuelan diaspora who have fled the economic and political turmoil engulfing the country.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Sunday that the bank has bought $2.8 billion in bonds from the state-run oil company at 31 cents on the dollar. Opponents of the Maduro regime say the deal makes Goldman Sachs complicit in Venezuela’s alleged human rights’ abuses and that the deal will provide the financially fragile government with hundreds of millions of dollars in sorely need hard currency.
"No matter how hard they try, Goldman Sachs and his top executives cannot embellish this deal, which is immoral for Venezuelans,” Julio Borges, president of the Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, told El Nacional. “This financially and morally reprehensible transaction is the result of a deeply unpopular regime, desperate to retain power and willing to mortgage the future of Venezuela.”
Venezuela's National Assembly voted earlier this week to ask the U.S. Congress to investigate the sale and at least 22 member countries of the Organization of American States were expected to meet Wednesday in Washington to discuss the crisis in Venezuela.
Goldman Sachs’ did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment about the bond deal. In its original statement, the bank said: “We recognize that the situation is complex and evolving and that Venezuela is in crisis. We agree that life there has to get better, and we made the investment in part because we believe it will."
According to Reuters, Goldman Sachs acquired the bonds from New York-based investment firm Dinosaur Financial Group. Fox News’ calls and emails to Dinosaur Managing Director Elliot Grossman were not returned.
Venezuela has been rocked over the last two months by widespread protests against Maduro's government that have left at least 60 people dead. Protesters are demanding elections to kick out the government that they accuse of wrecking the economy and turning Venezuela into a dictatorship.
Maduro, the successor to late leader Hugo Chávez, says his foes are seeking a violent coup and has called for a Constitutional Assembly, which he says is the only path to peace.
The Trump administration announced earlier this month sanctions against eight Venezuelan government officials on the nation's Supreme Court to support the Venezuelan people "in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance."
“The stable and peaceful Venezuela is in the best interest of the entire hemisphere, and America stands with all of the people in our great hemisphere yearning to be free,” Trump said. “It is a very, very horrible problem. And from a humanitarian standpoint, it is like nothing we’ve seen in quite a long time.”