We’re going to put off going Down The Rabbit Hole until tomorrow as we still have a lot of recent news items to get to. First up, after being out of the news for quite a while opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez surfaced in two news items yesterday. For those who don’t know about him he was the top opposition leader until he was jailed in 2014 by Nicolas Maduro for inciting violence and other charges when he encouraged Venezuelans to take to the streets and PEACEFULLY PROTEST! After languishing in prison for a couple of years he was still getting a lot of press so the Chavistas wanted to neutralize him. They offered him a deal, “Say what we want you to say and we’ll release you.” He refused, stayed in prison (a Venezuelan prison is no country club), was allowed house arrest after another year or so, and eventually fled the country. I don’t know of  any other opposition leader at the time that wouldn’t have taken the deal but Leopoldo is passionate in his desire for a free Venezuela.

 NTD News reported that Leopoldo Lopez, speaking from Spain, was asking the US for help in Venezuela’s fight against the regime of Nicolas Maduro. There was another piece in NPR about the upcoming documentary “A La Calle” (to the streets). The director is quoted saying “Stories of the Venezuela Humanitarian Crisis are universal.” The film looks at the situation in Venezuela through the eyes of various subjects as diverse as a doctor and a sanitation worker and details their struggle to survive under Chavismo. The film took three years to complete and almost all of the subjects have since left the country along with almost six million of their countrymen. Talking about the struggle for freedom in Venezuela Lopez says “…so, if the US particularly does not take the stand to fight for freedom and to promote freedom all over the world, the entire world will suffer.” He obviously doesn’t buy into the Obama/Biden strategy of leading from behind.

 Caracas Chronicles offers a little insight into the de facto dollarization of Venezuela. The bolivar(local currency) is still around but 70% of transactions are executed in dollars, however , Maduro still won’t allow bank credit to be issued in dollars. For now the Venezuela Central Bank strategy to deal with hyperinflation (now in year five) and the collapse of the bolivar seems to be to paralyze credit. It has slowed inflation a bit in the last year (still hyperinflationary) but it’s at the expense of growth, remember that the Venezuela economy has contracted every year since Maduro took power in 2013. If Venezuela officially dollarized they wouldn’t be able to print money to fund all their government programs so things will probably stay the same for a while.

 US News reports that ex-general Cliver Alcala is trying for a plea deal with the US on drug trafficking charges. Maduro and Diosdado Cabello (2nd most powerful man in Venezuela) are co-defendants. This is the same case as “The Chicken”,who is awaiting extradition to the US. It’s getting hard to keep track of all these guys but the dominoes are getting closer to falling.

 Following up on the story that Venezuela was one of only two countries in the world without in person learning for it’s students and that classes were resuming on September 17th the head of the Venezuela Teachers Union reports that teacher participation “was minimal.”

 We also have CGTN reporting that the universities are trying to resume classes a month from now but are struggling with finding personnel to put classrooms, auditoriums, and toilets in working order.

 And somewhat lost in the shuffle of all these guys awaiting extradition to the US we have a Spanish court postponing the hearing on extradition for Adrian Velasquez, former bodyguard and head of security for Hugo Chavez , on money laundering charges.

 Reuters reports that the leader of Maduro’s National Assembly Energy and Oil Committee says there will be no oil law reform this year.This comes after Maduro said he would ease conditions to allow for new business models ie; international investment. Without reform the odds on new international investment are slim and without new international investment the odds on reaching their “triple production” target are slim as well.

 While we’re on the topic of oil, PDVSA retirees are protesting again for payment of their salaries and benefits. Good luck. There are still former PDVSA workers waiting for money promised to them by Hugo Chavez and he’s been dead for almost eight years.

 White House reports that it has placed Bolivia and Venezuela on the list of countries failing demonstrably to meet obligations for international counter narcotics agreements and are officially illicit drug transport and drug producing countries.

 On the vaccine front we have seniors in Los Teques reporting that vaccine centers are out of vaccines and when they are available they cost $10, a lot of money when the minimum wage is $2 a month!

 Did we forget to tell you that with Maduro adding a bunch of Ministers with military backgrounds to his merry band of criminals we have another one. It turns out the new Water Minister has a military background as well

 Then we have UNICEF telling us that humanitarian aid kits are being used for political means…Shocker! This comes on the tails of OCHA requesting more nutritional supplements and medical equipment for children.

 We’ll close with what Venezuelans can look forward to the rest of this year. Focus Economics reports that by the end of the year the bolivar should be at about 12 and 1/2 bolivares/dollar. Remember it will be set at about 4 bolivares/dollar on October 1st. Oh, and inflation should come in at a paltry 1,557%.

 Now that we’re caught up on the news feed we’ll be back tomorrow with another Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment. Hasta luego…

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