The Web

 We’re heading Down The Rabbit Hole in a bit but first some recent news. This one comes to us from our friends at Caracas Chronicles and it is perfect Chavismo, actually Madurismo. It’s about “The Web”. Maduro has been involved in all kinds of fraudulent deals and one way or another his web of characters seem to be connected to just about every scheme that pops up in the news these days. It’s like the Venezuela version of “Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon.” Check this out.

 Baltasar Garzon’s law firm was paid $10 million by PDVSA for “coordinating with Spanish prosecution…” Garzon’s partner and Spanish General Prosecutor is Delores Delgado who is also on the contract. and is,by the way, defending Maduro and Alex Saab (remember him, the ‘web master’ currently awaiting extradition to the US for a list of charges and intimately involved in Maduro’s CLAP food program). Also on the order was former oil minister Eulogio del Pino who currently has a trial pending in Venezuela for corruption as well as Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera, both with trials pending in the US. A Spanish court demanded to see the authorization from government owned PDVSA but a year later PDVSA is still dragging it’s feet ( I guess that is part of ‘coordinating with Spanish prosecution’) however, sources say the authorization documents should contain the signatures of both Chavez’s brother and Nicolas Maduro. In this crazy web of Maduro’s everyone and everything is connected as we’re sure to see whenever all these guys currently awaiting extradition get on planes or those with trials pending finally go to court.

 Speaking of  those guys waiting to come clean, AP reports that the extradition of Cliver Alcala and “The Chicken” could be merged to streamline things. I’m sure this wouldn’t be well received by Maduro and friends as they thrive on delay and obfuscation.

 If it seems like everyone and everything in Venezuela is under investigation that’s because it is and they are although in many cases the relationship between the investigators and the subjects might be considered a bit incestuous. Elvis Amoroso,the ANC (Maduro’s Constituent National Assembly) imposed comptroller is in charge of reviewing the anti-corruption law. It’s a stretch to think he might even be partially objective.

 Then we have a story and a follow up. The first is a travesty of justice and the second is a chance to fix it although, pardon the pun, the jury is still out. In the first we have David Vallenilla, a protester in 2017 who was murdered by Sergeant Arli Teran and the evidence was overwhelming including photos and videos. The case against Teran was “absolved”. The outcry has been widespread and most say it is more proof the UN FFM report regarding lack of an independent judiciary in Venezuela is on point. In the follow up we have the government opening an investigation into the judge who “absolved” Teran.

 And then we have the passport service being shut down for five days to facilitate Maduro’s currency redenomination. At least we were told in advance and they aren’t claiming “terrorism!”

 Just so you know, Peru now has over a million Venezuelan migrants putting them number two on the list behind Colombia. It’s worth noting that 532,000 of them are seeking asylum.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 ….The only real-time reporting available to those without internet access (I’m talking about the truth here) these days is on the bus system (currently running at 10% capacity).Yes,to find out the truth you take the bus and there,if you’re lucky, you’ll be exposed to BUSTV. A group of young people,realizing that many Venezuelans had no access to real news, began putting on impromptu psuedo news shows on buses utilizing cardboard cut-out TV screens. So far they haven’t been thrown in jail but we’ll see…

 In 2019 we entered a new phase of free speech repression.On numerous occasions the National Guard blocked access to the parliamentary chamber so they could engage in debate over real issues while allowing the ANC (Maduro’s Constituent Assembly) access to meet in the same building. At least 32 international journalists were arrested and illegally detained (the number is constantly climbing). The regime also has an alternative strategy when they don’t actually arrest and deport journalists.When journalists periodically have to return to their home countries for one reason or another, as happened to Nick Casey of the New York Times, they are denied re-entry into Venezuela.

 The judicial system is,as you might expect, complicit in journalistic repression.After National Assembly members were allowed entry into parliamentary chambers journalists wanted to cover the proceedings but the National Guard denied them access. They petitioned the TSJ for relief but the court wouldn’t hear the case.When some of the same journalists filed a motion to reopen the investigation of attacked journalists the motion was denied. These are but two examples of what occurs all the time.

 However, every now and then the regime makes a miscalculation and we get a glimpse of reality.Maduro,surprisingly, granted Jorge Ramos of Univision an interview at Miraflores,the presidential palace. The prevailing rationale behind the granting of the interview seemed to be that Jorge Ramos was widely known to be a critic of then President Donald Trump so maybe he thought he would look favorably upon Maduro and lob up some softball questions…wrong!

 About 17 minutes into the scheduled one hour interview Ramos asked Maduro how he could deny there was a food crisis in light of “proof like this” and he showed him a video on his ipad of people digging for food out of the back of a garbage truck. A furious Maduro stormed out and security stormed in. Ramos and his crew were detained,their devices and equipment confiscated, and they were deported.Normally only well scripted interviews by regime officials are aired so Ramos said he doubted the interview would be seen even referring to it as “my best interview nobody will ever see.” Eventually,after passing through four different countries, the recording was recovered and the world got a glimpse of the real Nicolas Maduro. Ramos doesn’t believe he will be allowed back into Venezuela.

 With the appearance of Juan Guaido on the political scene in January,2019 the level of media repression, including issues like the Univision interview, reached new highs (or new lows depending on how you look at it). Whenever Guaido would speak at a rally or lead demonstrators the government would block Twitter,YouTube,Google, etc. At times they shut down the internet completely unless,like me, you had satellite internet.

 To be continued….

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