And Justice For All

 We’ll be heading Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…Human Rights Watch tells us that Venezuela needs to restore the Rule Of Law.Then we have the case of Alexandra Hidalgo, a rape and kidnapping case that has dragged on for 17 years. Her ex-husband was an Army Colonel so he had a little pull.After four go rounds the court,after 17 years, closed the case and absolved the Colonel  of all charges although it did recommend a new case. This led her attorney to say “The Venezuelan justice system is not designed for justice.” Then we have Foro Penal telling us that only 16% of political prisoners have been sentenced. I guess that’s better than all those that spend years in detention and aren’t even officially charged.

 And now we have the Maduro regime and the opposition, both sides, telling us that on the heels of their success so far ( they agree Venezuela should press the claim on the disputed Essequibo region with Guyana…rich in oil and gas…Duh!) the primary focus of the next round of talks will be the justice system. Forgive my skepticism but with a Supreme Court hearing over 45,000 cases/petitions and ruling against Chavismo ZERO TIMES I don’t know how much difference any other judicial reforms will make while you have the court presided over by a convicted murderer and the executive is in the hands of an amoral,Marxist, dictator.

 Oh, and did you catch that statement by the OAS (Organization of American States)?  Immediate action is needed by the ICC they say. The Bensouda Report (the former Chief Prosecutor) ratified the OAS report from May, 2018. Justice for those victims of Human Rights violations and Crimes Against Humanity must be right around the corner.

 We do have one more item from the talks in Mexico. Both sides agree to “establish mechanisms for restoration  and achievement of resources to meet social needs ….COVID.” No specifics were given. Maruro says….wait for it…”Success!”  I can hardly wait for those talks on justice…more “Success!” reports that the Venezuelan government warns of possible scams involving the government’s cryptocurrency,el Petro, other than the fact that el Petro is totally fraudulent and worth nothing. What are these people talking about?

 And Down The Rabbit Hole we go…

 ….As previously discussed,the early Chavez years did a lot of things for the poor of Venezuela and reduced the poverty rate by half,a commendable achievement. What was overlooked by the international community was the unsustainability of Chavez’s policies and spending.It was not overlooked by many inside Venezuela and the migration began.The mass expropriations and anti-business environment threw a scare into a number of Venezuelans, mostly business and professional people. They saw clouds on the horizon which, in hindsight,just seems like common sense. High oil prices and almost unlimited credit wouldn’t last forever although based on their behavior most Chavistas thought they would.

 Now that you could actually quantify the numbers, let’s have a look.In 2015 there were 695,000 Venezuelan migrants, according to the UN. Since it was spread out over the first decade and a half of Chavismo it was hardly an alarming number, however a good number of those left following the Guarimba (mass protests) of 2014. What those people had in common with the Pre-Chavismo migrants was that they were mostly business and professional people.They left via the airport and flew mostly to the US and Europe. All that was about to change.

 The number of migrants went from 695,000 in 2015 to over 4 million by 2019 and is closing in on 6 million and may soon pass the Syrian migrant crisis number of 6.7 million. The breakdown in 2019 looked something like this although it’s hard to track with thousands leaving daily (slowed a bit by the Coronavirus).

 Colombia- 1,300,000

 Peru- 768,000* began requiring visas

 USA – 351,000* requires a visa

 Chile – 288,000

 Ecuador – 263,000 considering tightening controls

 Canada – 258,000 * listed number is from 2013 – in the last couple of years refugee claims in Canada are under 500 while Syrians accepted are in the thousands.. puzzling?

 Brazil – 168,000 * numbers would be much higher except border crossings are in remote areas

 Argentina – 130,00

 Panama – 94,000 * on again, off again policies toward Venezuelans

 Mexico – 40,000 and rapidly rising

 Trinidad and Tobago – 40,000

 Curacao – 16,000 * represents 15% of entire population

 Aruba – 11,000 * represents 15% of entire population

 note; There are and estimated 28,500 Venezuelans in the Dominican Republic but their numbers are notoriously inaccurate and they are considering bans and deportations

 These are the Western Hemisphere numbers. There are Venezuelans around the globe.

 Those are the numbers and while they are staggering and growing (the largest migrant crisis in the history of the Western Hemisphere) they don’t tell the whole story. Just like the Syrian crisis the early migrants took flights or traveled overland to neighboring countries and were more or less self-sufficient.Eventually the Syrians just kept pouring out by any means possible and wound up all over Europe and these later migrants had nothing in common as far as self-sufficiency with the earlier migrants. They were simply desperate people fleeing a country ravaged by years of civil war and most arrived at the doorstep of host countries with nothing, in poor health, and not much in the way of prospects.

 The most frightening thing about the Venezuela situation is something I’ve repeated in earlier chapters of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole. Syria is suffering from years of civil war. Other countries have had large numbers of refugees due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, massive river flooding etc. or famine caused by years of drought. All these situations are understandable.Venezuela’s defies belief as it is due to none of these factors or anything like them.

 Before the onset of Chavismo people were not fleeing Venezuela, they were migrating TO VENEZUELA!! In the latter 20th century 15% of the Venezuelan population were immigrants coming from Spain,Portugal, Italy,Lebanon,Syria, and people of Jewish heritage. There were also a number of Canadians and Americans as well as from anywhere companies invested in Venezuela originated.Many of the earlier immigrants established businesses or were professional people.Most of those have now returned to their country of origin but it didn’t happen overnight. People were reluctant to give up on businesses they had invested a good deal of their lives (and resources) building.A good example is the 70 year old Portugese woman who recently returned to Portugal.In Venezuela she owned an accounting firm and employed 10 people.In Portugal she is a cleaning lady. Now don’t get me wrong here. It’s not a knock on cleaning ladies but a cleaning lady is an independent contractor. In Venezuela this woman had 10 other people and their families tied to her success and had for years.When she finally had to give up it meant they had to as well. Some professional people are fortunate enough to find work in their countries of origin in their chosen profession but those are few and far between.There are Venezuelan lawyers and doctors all over the world washing dishes. And those left behind are nowhere near that fortunate.

 To be continued…..

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