The Venezuelan government received the last 14 tons of gold of a total of 160 tons that were deposited in banks in other countries, and which arrived at Caracas' Maiquetia international airport amid an impressive military deployment that included tanks and some 300 soldiers posted along the route.

The 160 tons, valued at $8.94 billion, are part of the country's gold reserves that in total "are more than 360 tons, which represents around $18 billion," central bank chief Nelson Merentes told reporters.

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Venezuela has international monetary reserves of around $30 billion. Merentes recalled at the airport that one of the main reasons for the repatriation of the gold to Venezuela's Central Bank, or BCV, "is that international markets are difficult" and that a period of "turmoil" is reported in Europe and the United States, where the gold was deposited.

In times of "global financial crisis and turmoil in the developed economic centers, gold becomes one of the principal safe assets, because it is the only means of international payment that has its own intrinsic value, in other words it is not a debt of other countries," he said.

The gold ingots left Venezuela between 1989 and 1992 to "different banks in Europe and the United States, as a guarantee of payment providing access to loans from different international organizations," Merentes said.

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"A portion (of Venezuelan gold) has been left in world financial centers to enable certain operations," he said, without giving any further details.

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