Perfect Timing

 Before our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment here’s what’s new in the world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. Talk about perfect timing in conjunction with “El Dorado”, Insight Crime reports  an ex lieutenant in the Venezuela military allegedly recruited Venezuelan soldiers for a gang attack on an illegal mine in “The Mining Arc”. Just a new bit of lawlessness in the new ‘Wild,Wild,West’.

 The Chavista’s assault on the starving Venezuelan population continues.Fedecamaras reports that Venezuela’s food basket, the list of food items required to feed a family of five a balanced diet for a month, is now $303. With the minimum wage being only $1.70 a month ( I can’t say this enough: The UN standard for extreme poverty is a dollar a day. There is no category for less than two dollars a month), that translates to 178 monthly minimum wages to feed a family of five. The slow motion starvation of the Venezuelan people under Chavismo just goes on and on and on!

 At the same time the Venezuela Observatory for Finance  says goods and services for January – July of this year were up 415%

 In a statement that is revealing and quintessential Chavismo Chavista,Freddy Bernal, stated ” Primary victories are not automatic candidacies.” Using our Chavista BS translator, that means that even if you win your primary election,if you’re not acceptable to Chavismo you will be disqualified by the CNE (electoral council) who ultimately admits or rejects candidates. The CNE is controlled by the Chavistas (they gave two of the five positions to the opposition recently in a meaningless gesture since the three Chavistas are still in control) and the Supreme Court of Venezuela (TSJ), also Chavista, ratifies every CNE decision,without question. ” Hey, even the Supreme Court” agrees with us!”

 Oh, and speaking of our old amigos at the CNE and the TSJ, let us not forget the 2015 parlimentary (National Assembly) elections where the opposition won a super majority only to have three representatives disallowed by the CNE and the TSJ denying them a Chavista-proof super majority. And what districts did those representatives come from? How perfect is this? They were from the Amazonas! Where is the highest concentration of indigenous peoples? The Amazonas! So what ever happened with that situation…new elections? New appointments? What? Well, nothing ever happened. The three representatives were disallowed by the CNE and TSJ and were never replaced leaving those areas without representation!! Chavismo does as it pleases and is accountable to no one.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole, shall we?

 ….Somewhat lost in the drama that played out on the world stage a couple of years ago,as Juan Guaido attempted to get humanitarian aid across the Colombian border for the Venezuelan people (unsuccessfully), was the attack on the Pemon when they attempted to let aid in from Brazil. Members of the military killed three Pemon and wounded dozens in the confrontation. And where was (is) the international outrage….?

 Besides the exploitation and oppression of the Pemon people, what the Chavistas are also complicit in is the severe damage to the environment both on legally protected traditional Pemon land and the land and rivers surrounding it.

 Outside the area officially designated as “The Mining Arc” and the Orinoco river are the Carrao river and others as well as the Imataca Forest, the Yapacana and El Caura national parks, and the Canaima National Park ( famous as the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World” and home to species found nowhere else in the world). Oh,and did I mention that Canaima is home to Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world? The areas bordering the designated “Mining Arc” are being encroached upon as tends to happen with these things. It’s not just the mines themselves but the damage being done by deforestation and pollution.In 2017 blood tests on residents along three area rivers showed 60 times the maximum allowable levels of mercury, used in metals processing.

 The escalation of malaria cases is also quite concerning. Malaria was completely eradicated in Venezuelan cities in 1961 and nationwide in 1980.There were 406,289 cases of malaria in 2017 and an estimated over 600,000 for 2018. Given the government’s unwillingness to release information most people believe these numbers to be low.

 There is good news/bad news regarding the benefit of “The Mining Arc” for the government. The bad news is there is more revenue in illegal gold than revenue that finds it’s way into government coffers so this won’t be the financial savior the government hoped it would be. The good news is that it does keep some members of the military happy. The trade is lucrative enough that top military officers need to be rotated so they can share in the reported $800,000/month in bribes.

 Summary : Typical of any Chavista project “The Mining Arc” has very little upside and a whole lotta’ downside. The government earns a few bucks although nowhere near what they need(or projected). A limited number of military officers are mollified but again nowhere near what they need. All those international companies needed to make this a thriving enterprise will never materialize. Nobody wants to partner with the Chavistas and the military’s lack of desire to control the area will keep reputable operations from participating. By the numbers, in 2003 mining accounted for 0.79% of GDP. Since Chavismo made it a priority in 2016 mining now accounts for 0.28% of GDP and dropping.

 What is being done to the Pemon and the environment is the real story of “The Mining Arc”. In the words of Joe Biden to Barack Obama, “This is a big fuckin’ deal”. Any gold sold by the BCV, the Venezuela Central Bank, as well as any sold by Venezuelan state-owned companies should be considered the same as “Blood Diamonds”. In the words of Def Leppard “baby I’m not Fuh Fuh Fuh Foolin'”!!

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