Round Two

 We’ll be closing out this week’s Down The Rabbit Hole segment in just a bit but first…. Today we begin Round Two of the big talks in Mexico between the Maduro regime and the opposition. Nobody is expecting much despite everybody telling us how optimistic they are. One thing not too many people are mentioning was covered in a piece by Caracas Chronicles. It concerned the role of Diosdado Cabello in the talks even though he has no real official role. He is considered by many to be the most powerful man in Venezuela although his influence has waned of late. He is the head of “Cartel of the Sun”, Venezuela’s premier drug trafficking operation. No big surprise that a criminal like Cabello would wield such power within Chavismo. The Marxist former bus driver has a convicted murderer in charge of the Supreme Court and a terrorist in charge of the economy so why not?

 Internal tensions are rising within Chavismo as Cabello,who has been very quiet recently, could torpedo the talks as he seeks to recover some of his lost political clout. He is more aligned with the paramilitary wing and the party radicals ( is such a term as radicals even possible when discussing Chavismo? Who among them could be considered moderate?). The two sides are lining up with Maduro and Tareck El Aissami on one side with Cabello and Padrino Lopez (Head of the military) on the other. If I had to pick between the bus driver and the terrorist vs the drug dealer and the soldier my money’s on the drug dealer and the soldier…but that’s just me.

 With the talks in Round Two being primarily about the upcoming elections it seems both sides are getting a bit confrontational. The New York Times reports “Venezuela Opposition To Participate In November Elections – 1st Since 2017” Sounds promising until one of the major opposition parties, Unitary Platform says “We know the elections won’t be fair or conventional…it will be a space for a useful battle.” And then you have Maduro, ” When the opposition nominates it’s candidates, they’d be recognizing the Chavista National Assembly.” Awww… now why did he have to go and say that.

 And then there’s Delcy Rodriguez, VP, with some words of hope…”I hope we can overcome these times of intolerance.” What she didn’t say is the intolerance is Chavismo’s. And how will the Chavistas behave in the coming months? CC tells us that usually this kind of peace offering is followed by a gun to the temple. “Precedent is a killer in this one.”

 And the UN Human Rights Council felt the need to get a headline out there announcing a new member to serve on their fact finding mission to Venezuela.Since they’re still trying to set up an office after two years maybe this will help. Anybody know a good realtor?

 So where do Venezuelans stand on all this? Well, GZERO reports that 80-85 % of Venezuelans don’t support either side!

 And Down The Rabbit Hole we go….

 ….If this wasn’t crazy enough we also have a parallel TSJ know as the TSJ in exile so we have two presidents,two National Assemblies, and two Supreme Courts (TSJ). The TSJ in exile consists of 33 judges living in the US,Colombia,Panama, and Chile. They have met every 15 days (at least for a while) by video conference since 2017.As you might expect they have declared the ANC illegitimate just as Maduro’s TSJ declared the constitutionally elected National Assembly illegitimate not once (2019) but twice (also in 2017) when they bestowed the assembly’s powers on the ANC after briefly assuming said powers themselves. OK…Got it?

 So what does the international community think of the TSJ?Well, in 2017 and 2018 the US Treasury Department blacklisted 8 TSJ judges and in 2014 Transparency International rated Venezuela’s TSJ the most corrupt judicial system in the world. Transparency International also publishes annually a Corruption Perception Index which defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit.” For 2010 -2018 Venezuela was ranked in the bottom 10 of 176 countries each year. For the years 2017 and 2018 the World Justice Project Rule Of Law Index rate Venezuela last of  113 countries. I don’t have any updated stats but nothing has happened to make me think the TSJ has gained any credibility.

 And where are we now since the failed uprising which it is widely reported failed due to Maikel Moreno backing out of a deal with the opposition because it didn’t give him the power he wanted? Well, the TSJ has stripped 15 members (and counting) of the National Assembly of their parliamentary immunity and some have been arrested while others have fled or sought asylum.When the assembly denounced these arrests by one of the three secret police groups,SEBIN, TSJ judge,Carol Padilla, produced the warrant application as justification for the arrest of opposition leader Roberto Marrero. The only problem is that included in the justification for the warrant are GOOGLE searches for news articles that occurred five days after the warrant application!

 Summary : Many of the judges of the TSJ in exile have confirmed the regular practice of TSJ judges being summoned to Miraflores (the presidential palace) to discuss “sensitive cases.”And now, I’ve saved the best for last. This will tell you everything you need to know about the Venezuela Supreme Court, TSJ. This is the most recent number I could find.So far the TSJ has heard 45,474 cases over the Chavismo years. IT HAS RULED AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT ZERO TIMES!!!

 That will do it for “The Supremes” as well as for the week. We’re celebrating Labor Day on Monday so we’ll se y’all Tuesday. Have a great weekend everybody!!

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