The Walkers

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole for a little more “Free Gas” in just a few. But first….. The OAS (Organization of American States) released a report that if the borders are reopened the Venezuelan migrant numbers could reach 7 million, surpassing Syria, by the 1st quarter of 2022. Many have gone through Colombia and on to Peru. My wife (Venezolana) and I visited a migrant friend of hers in Lima,Peru a few years ago and there are a lot of Venezuelans there.

 The OAS report went on to describe just how desperate people are to get out of Venezuela. Many of those in Peru are called “walkers”, meaning they crossed the Venezuela/Colombia border on foot,many at the border crossing in Cucuta. They continued on foot all the way to Lima. That is like walking from New York City to Salt Lake. How desperate would you have to be to do that? They also gave an update on the migrant aid figures and, as you might guess, the world’s various aid groups continue to spend more than 10 Times Per Capita on Syrian migrants as opposed to Venezuelans. It’s a travesty!

 And those migrants in Peru,as well as the native Peruvians, better watch out or they’ll have to lace up their walking shoes again. McClatchy DC reports that Peru’s new president,Castillo. elected by a razor thin 0.3% margin, is already heading down the Marxist path despite his protestations “I’m not Chavista! I’m not a communist!” (FYI, he’s a little guy that wears a great big hat so be afraid, be very afraid) His party , Peru Libre, is a Marxist organization. His appointed Prime Minister is a Cuban dictatorship defender claiming they are a democracy and paid homage to ‘Shining Path’ terrorist group members. Castillo also appointed,as Foreign Minister, a former guerilla leader and Marxist. Castillo and his cadre are already trying to bypass congress by calling for a Constitutional Assembly, just as Chavez did when he took power. This could be shaping up to be another ideology is more important than reality situation as we’ve seen in Venezuela and other socialist/Marxist regimes. Their focus is on retaining and consolidating power rather than the good of the people. So what should Castillo be spending his time and energy on, you might ask?  A good start might be the coronavirus situation. Peru currently has the highest mortality rate in the world.

 And speaking of the OAS, the OAS Panel of Experts, formed in 2017, has recommended that the ICC take action on Venezuela’s “crimes against humanity and grave and systematic human rights violations”.  Ho hum, another day,another call for the Maduro regime to be held accountable for killing their own people. As we’ve said before….these things take time.

 Oh,and we have another “why isn’t he doing this for his own people?” story. Telesur reports ‘Cuba thanks Venezuela for 30 food containers.’ If Maduro cared about his own people he would send 30 food containers to Caracas, not Havana.

 And in the “Don’t hold your breath” category we have the UCV (Universidad Central de Venezuela) rector telling us that Venezuela’s universities haven’t been paid for their 2020-2021 budgets. Oh, and they’re still owed 75% of the previous year.

 Just when you thought (if you’re hopelessly naive) that the Chavistas were extending an olive branch to the private sector in Venezuela by V P Delcy Rodriguez making ‘happy talk’ at the Fedecamaras (business chamber) meeting Maduro grabs the olive branch and hits them in the face with it. One week after ‘happy time’ Nicolas accused the business sector of an alleged plan to destabilize the economy. It was the same rhetoric we discussed in our “The Real War” Down The Rabbit Hole segment. “La Guerra Economica!”. It’s like ‘deja vu all over again’.(Yogi)

 “Free Gas” anyone? ……..

 ….To get a rough idea of the cost of “Free Gas” through government subsidies let’s use some low numbers so our lost revenue numbers will be on the low side, a minimum if you will. Although historic usage is,on average, much higher let’s use the low number of 200,000 bpd (barrels per day) of gasoline. In a country of 5 million cars this should be much higher but there aren’t that many cars on the road these days. People either can’t find parts or can’t afford them. So, 200,000 bpd X 55 gallons (average volume of a barrel) = 11 million gallons per day. Let’s use a real low price for gasoline, in real world terms, of a dollar a gallon X 11 million gallons X 365 days in a year = over $4 billion a year in lost revenue! And these are low numbers!

 Every analyst and ally,except Cuba, for years advised Maduro to raise gasoline prices (not like that seemingly huge 6,000% increase in 2016 up to 25 cents per tankful). he listened to none of them which is pretty much his reaction to any advice that requires him to change policy. He did announce a major price increase at the time of his economic overhaul and new “Sovereign Bolivar” currency. Tell me if this doesn’t sound typically Chavista. The new plan would involve new registration and regulation levels. Two different prices, subsidized pricing for those registered with the plan and an international average price for those not part of the plan. Of course this would be through the ‘Carnet de la Patria’ (that nasty Homeland Card again) and required that people register their cars for the plan. So the government gets more people to sign up for the corrupt ‘Homeland Card’,gathers information on cars and car owners, and then does nothing. Gas prices continued where they were in 2016 although actually much less in real world dollar terms as the valuation of the bolivar continued to plummet. I almost forgot to mention that when the new bsS (Sovereign Bolivar) came into being the government had to allow the old bsf (Strong Bolivar) to stick around for a while because the new currency didn’t have a denomination small enough to pay for gasoline. In a perverse development, that problem would be solved by the rapid devaluation of the bsS.

 So why did this continue? It’s couldn’t be for political reasons since Maduro is a dictator and doesn’t care what anyone thinks (except maybe the Cubans). It couldn’t be that,like in the good old days, he was raking in so much with oil sales and loans that he simply didn’t care about the lost revenue. So, what gives?

 I’m sure nobody will be surprised that the reason for all this involves the military and smuggling. We already know that we have an Army General running state owned oil company PDVSA and that the army is in charge of food distribution as well as medicine. Maduro’s CLAP food program is operated by the most powerful of the colectivos, his civilian militia numbering in the hundreds of thousands. With cash being tight and those other avenues not producing what they used to how could he keep the military happy? Since the military controls the border crossings, except where it’s controlled by FARC/ELN guerillas from Colombia who are in league with the Chavistas, smuggling is an easy task and with the price so much higher ( it’s not hard for the price to be higher than free) in Colombia it’s quite a lucrative enterprise.

 To be continued….

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