Fellow Travelers

 “Blatant Disregard” from Down The Rabbit Hole will continue in a few but first… The headline in Global Voices read “Venezuela And China : Strong Bonds Or Empty Words ?”  As one who has followed this closely for years I can tell you it’s not what they would have you believe, that they are brothers in arms advancing the cause of global socialism/communism. Both have vast networks of state media. Both have a Marxist ideology. Both have horrific human rights records.(Don’t get me started on both of them being on the UN’s Human Rights Council)

 We have talked before about how even with oil prices at all time highs for years the Chavistas borrowed a lot of money from the Chinese. For all the rhetoric put out there about the imperialist gringos having their eyes on Venezuela’s vast oil reserves it is China that has actively pursued it. By 2020 the Chinese had loaned the Chavistas about $69 billion through the Chavez years and continuing with Maduro, for a few years at least. This amount represents 1/2 of all Chinese loans to Latin America and is by no means philanthropic. The Chinese need oil and Venezuela has it.

 The Chinese early on recognized Venezuela as an easy mark for their debt trap resource strategy around the globe. To say that the Chavistas are,and have been, totally ignorant business wise would be a huge understatement. The Chinese exploited this through a series of money for oil loans over a period of years. None of the details of these agreements are available through either party. I watched this unfold with fascination as I wondered how long it would be until the Chinese realized that these guys were not to be trusted in anything related to finance. They have screwed or screwed up every deal they have ever made with anybody.

 For quite a while the Chavistas borrowed in mostly $5 billion increments. The debt kept piling up,each time with the promise of more and more future oil shipments to China. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the Chavistas were going to have a hard time keeping to these commitments.It was a classic debt trap where the lender sucks in the borrower to taking on more and more debt until they reach the point where they will not be able to pay it back and then the lender owns them. Almost all the projects that have been proposed over the years by these supposed partners have never been completed. All these deals combined have done nothing to improve the lives of the Venezuelan people and have accomplished nothing except for creating a few more Chavista billionaires.

 It’s been a long time since China committed any new money to the Maduro regime having reached their tolerance for failed joint ventures with Chavismo. Then in May,2021 China announced a new environmental tax on any carbon intensive economic agreements which is exactly what dealing in Venezuelan heavy crude is. When asked about this the Venezuelan government has no comment. These days the relationship between Venezuela and China is mostly empty rhetoric. There is no more money coming Venezuela’s way from China and with Chavismo’s destruction of their oil production capacity they struggle to ship oil (for free) to the Chinese. The Chinese don’t need to loan any more money to the Maduro regime. They already own them.

 It was recently announced that the Dominican Republic bought out Venezuela’s share of a joint venture in the Refidomsa refinery. Venezuela paid $131 million for their share of this project and sold it for $88 million. They only lost $43 million on the deal. By Chavista standards not bad.

 And here’s the latest from CENDAS on the basic food basket to feed a family of five for a month in Venezuela., 1,126,793,499 bsS, up 21% from a month ago.

 The Hill reports that the Biden administration has said no to a seat at the table for the negotiations between the Maduro regime and the opposition in Mexico as Russia has done for Chavismo. The US also has no Special Representative to Venezuela, you know…the position created when you don’t have an embassy or ambassador. They are shifting their focus elsewhere.

 One more oil related note… Oilprice.com reports that South America is big oil’s new favorite continent. Major projects are being pursued in Brazil,Guyana,Suriname, Argentina,and Colombia. They made no mention of Venezuela.

 Now, Down The Rabbit Hole we go ….

 …..In 2017 the TSJ announced that the National Assembly would be stripped of it’s powers and they would be assumed by the TSJ. Although this was a blatant violation of the constitution, Maduro and the Chavistas violated the constitution constantly so it’s hard to figure out why everyone went crazy…but they did. I guess Maduro didn’t want any competition for his rule by decree due to the emergency powers that were no longer granted by the assembly but powers he granted himself and were confirmed by the TSJ. Who needs a National Assembly when you do whatever you want,regardless of the constitution, and the supreme court ratifies it. Like so many things Venezuelan, it was a combination of the classic Laurel and Hardy “Who’s On First” routine withe a little Marx Brothers thrown in.

 With nobody,Maduro included, being in favor of the TSJ being the most powerful entity in the country ( this may be the first time Maduro sided with the international community), the TSJ quickly reversed itself, “just kidding folks”,but it was too late. The people were fed up with the whole situation.The various factions vying for power while the Venezuelan people were dying by greater numbers every day for a variety of reasons all related to inept governance or lack of governance. They took to the streets ….again. It was all the same issues as the 2014 Guarimba, hunger at the forefront, with lack of medicine,healthcare, and pretty much everything else right behind.

The demonstrations went on for four or five months at full strength and lingered after that. Maduro must have figured that the 40 protesters killed in the Guarimba of 2014 didn’t get his point across so he upped his repression game this time. 165 were killed, 1,958 wounded, and over 5,000 detained.As usual, Maduro blamed all Venezuela’s problems on the economic war being waged against “The Revolution” by the USA, Colombia, far-right oligarchs etc. He also blamed the same crowd for the violence associated with the protests and even for the protests themselves. Certainly it was inconceivable that the Venezuelan people weren’t happy with Chavismo.

 As the days turned into months and the violent clashes mounted along with the death toll Maduro called for dialogue(sound familiar?). He abhorred the violence being perpetrated on the peaceful people of Venezuela by a few extremists.He failed to mention that his guys were the ones with the guns. The opposition didn’t want dialogue,they wanted a recall election to oust Maduro, which was a foregone conclusion should a free and fair election be held.

 In 2017 the international community still hadn’t caught on to Maduro’s game and some of them haven’t to this day. When confronted with a threat to his regime he calls for dialogue while he represses dissent ( the usual, killing,wounding,beating, and jailing) knowing full well that time is on his side. The opposition has shown in the past that given time they will always manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The dialogue went on for months, changing venues,mediators, representatives shuffling in and out of meetings telling anyone who would listen that progress was being made and they were optimistic about the prospects for the next meeting.The Dominican Republic,Mexico, former Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, and even The Pope continually parroted the same line.

 To be continued….


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