We’ll continue with Down The Rabbit Hole in a minute but first…I was beginning to think it was never going to happen.We had Portugal News telling us the Alex Saab saga was continuing. For the uninitiated, Alex Saab was Maduro’s money man that set up a portion of Maduro’s illicit enterprises he has used to defraud the Venezuelan people. He was apprehended in Cape Verde in Africa when his plane stopped for refueling and was being held pending extradition to the US on money laundering charges. On one side you had the US and EU along with Interpol and Colombia wanting him extradited to both pay for his crimes and provide information on how Maduro profited from these schemes,chief among them Venezuela’s CLAP food program, used to overcharge Venezuelans for inferior quality and expired food items. Trying to block the extradition we had the Maduro regime,claiming he was a diplomat,and the African Union as well as the UN (don’t get me started). Reuters reports that now,after exhausting all challenges, Cape Verde has approved extradition to the US and he should be transported in a week or so. This is not good for our boy Nico. It may be what finally prompts these international entities such as the ICC (International Criminal Court) to proceed with investigations into Maduro’s Human Rights Violations and Crimes Against Humanity.
And what would a news day be without Telesur (Venezuela government media) telling us that Maduro accuses Colombia and the US of plotting to destroy the Mexico talks? I guess they squeezed that plot in between plots to kill him which he reports almost monthly.
I almost forgot to mention another extradition battle facing Maduro and others. FDD (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) tells us that there are competing extradition requests from Colombia and the US for Turkish businessman, Sezgin Korkmaz, being held in Austria for several charges. Once again we have Maduro trying to block it along with his Economic Minister, Tareck El Aissimi, and Turkish President Erdogan. The Turkish angle is particularly interesting as when Mexico began to investigate Maduro’s fraudulent food program, set up by Alex Saab, they closed up shop in Mexico…and where did they move to? You guessed it…Turkey. There is funny money tied to the Maduro regime pretty much everywhere you look.
Then we have Yahoo News telling us that ELN, you know…the Marxist Revolutionary group, is in control of several Venezuela/Colombia border towns where they function as both government and major employer. Residents told journalists that when ELN first showed up they were accompanied by Chavista officials. Now that the villagers aren’t helped at all by Chavismo they have turned to ELN to fill the gap left by their uncaring government. The ELN profits from illegal drugs, gold,etc. and in return for their security the locals now live under ELN tyranny. I guess after living under the tyranny of Chavismo they don’t really see much difference.
In another example of the government’s lack of control/support in the border areas we have Insight Crime reporting that the Curi gang has posted a video online showing a Venezuela Army Sergeant’s bloody and swollen face telling the government to leave his captors alone. It seems they’re displeased with interference in their extortion operations.
And then we have Maduro insulting the Venezuelan Archbishop for criticizing the Army for blocking humanitarian aid. The hits just keep on coming…
Now, Down The Rabbit Hole….
….The earlier “escapees”, those first 695,000 migrants prior to 2015,left primarily by plane and most,having the financial wherewithal, took their families with them.As the migrations ramped up over the next couple of years the situation changed drastically on several fronts.
The next few years were primarily what we’ll call “the middle escapees.”This group contained the majority of Venezuela’s middle class as well as those who for one reason or another stayed there for another couple of years.Unlike round one many of these people,while by no means destitute,had more to consider financially and this fostered change beginning with destination and method.
The “middle escapees” began going overland,primarily to Colombia and on to Ecuador,Peru,Chile,etc. Some drove their own cars and others took buses. This was a far cry from the wealthier group,one that just headed to the airport,family in tow, and jumped on a plane headed for Spain or wherever. Another big difference was that the second round often couldn’t afford for the entire family to go. Some would choose to leave the elderly behind,often because they didn’t want to leave,and in many cases the children would stay behind with their Grandparents.The prevailing opinion was that the children were at less risk and they would be sent for as soon as the mother and father got established.Another common method used by those with limited resources was for the family to stay put and send the young adults abroad. Over half the families in Venezuela have at least one family member abroad sending back monthly remittances to help their families survive.
Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors adopted a welcoming attitude towards Venezuelan migrants,at least initially, as Venezuela had welcomed migrants from their countries. That attitude held up for the next year or two until round three, “the refugees”, was well underway and it appeared there was no end in sight. It was one thing for Maduro and the Chavistas to destroy their own country but it was now having a real effect on surrounding countries.
Today’s refugees, I think we’re beyond the “migrant” category, are arriving at the doorstep of host countries with less than nothing.Most delayed leaving because they were trying to scrape together a little money for bus fare and maybe an extra dollar or two. Finally giving up hope on being able to afford bus fare most are just taking off on foot with whatever they can carry and what few dollars they have. Most cross the border with Colombia because no matter where you are going you first have to get out of Venezuela.
Due to a number of factors, all Chavista created, many of these “walkers” have no documentation.To cross the border everybody pays.If you have documents you can use the legal crossings but you will have to bribe the National Guard or you will languish at the back of the line indefinitely.If you don’t have documents you will have to pay “coyotes” to sneak you across utilizing the “trochas”. Crime is rampant on both sides of the border. If you are legal and have documents and money for the bribes you are a target for kidnapping or robbery, both of which are way up. If you are illegal you will have to pay the coyotes somehow so what do you do? People barter with whatever they have. There is also a common practice of using children (which should be in school by the way) as pack mules for the river crossings.Some turn to crime.Better to be a criminal than a victim.
So let’s say you make it across and now you’re in Colombia. You’ve used all your scant resources just to escape the hell that is Venezuela. Now what do you do? There has been a drastic increase in recruitment by ELN guerillas and FARC dissidents, right-wing paramilitaries,drug traffickers,human smugglers, prostitution rings, and other criminal elements (in case I missed anybody). Desperate women sell their hair, their bodies, even their children.
To be continued….
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