Can't Even Give It Away

 We’ll be finishing up this week’s Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a minute but first ….When I saw this I had to laugh. I was reminded of something we have all seen. From time to time there’s a product or service out there that is so obviously bad you’re immediate reaction is “That’s so bad they can’t even give it away.” That’s the kind of feeling I had,not just this time but when I first heard about it. The Chavistas have a program they call “Plan Vuelta de la Patria.”( Return to the Homeland Plan) The premise is that a lot of these almost 6 million Venezuelans that have fled the paradise of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism will want to return to Venezuela when they experience life elsewhere. It will be proof that things are fine in the world of Chavismo.

 There were reports out of Chile that in the town of Iquique, on the border with Peru, there were protests against Venezuelan migrants and a xenophobic incident where protesters burned the belongings of some of the Venezuelans. It sounds frightening but to the Chavistas it was an opportunity to showcase “Plan Vuelta de la Patria.” They sent Maduro’s ambassador over there to offer complete resettlement back to Venezuela including free plane tickets. There were very few takers. Even with free airfare and other enticements they can’t sell the idea of returning to Venezuela…. they “can’t even give it away!”

 In Steel Business Briefing we have the headline “Venezuela Restarts HBI Production Under New Development Plan.” In Venezuela instead of  lather, rinse ,repeat we have restart, halt,restart. It was this kind of cycle that led 7 refinery mechanics to be detained in a “terrorist probe.” How long until we see a “terrorist probe” in the steel industry?

 In the brothers in arms category we have BeITA reporting that Belarus is sending humanitarian aid to fellow Human Rights abusing country Venezuela. FYI, the article didn’t say fellow Human Rights abusing country. I just couldn’t help myself. reports that the Petrocedeno Project, which contains the two largest refineries, is using it’s upgraders to produce naphtha which is needed for gasoline production and shortage of gasoline has been a problem in Venezuela for some time. This would explain why a couple of oil majors have pulled out of the project. Assets aren’t being used to process crude for export but to try to squeeze out a little fuel for domestic needs.

 In the Well,he finally said it category we have Nicolas Maduro saying Alex Saab was in charge of the CLAP food program (Maduro’s scheme to defraud the Venezuelan people under the guise of helping ‘the people’). He has never said this before although he said it as more evidence those “evil right-wingers” are trying to bring down “The Revolution”. He alleged that Saab had been kidnapped and tortured in Cape Verde but presented no evidence and nobody else has claimed this. Alex Saab was the brains behind CLAP and other fraudulent schemes tied to Maduro and everybody knows it. Maduro has his dirty little fingers in a lot of dirty little pies. When all the extraditions come to pass we’ll finally get to see at least some of his nefarious dealings.

 Oh, and remember Maduro saying he would ease Covid restrictions for November and December to allow for economic development? Well, now he says he’ll do it to allow for “Happy Holidays.” I’m sure we have some Baby Jesus bonuses coming out in the near future.

 And did you hear that the petrochemical plant taken over by Colombia from the Chavistas had to file for bankruptcy once they took a look at the books?

 OK, time to head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 ….On the morning of the failed uprising of April 30th I was pleasantly surprised to be able to watch events unfolding live on CNN with my DIRECTV service.Well,that didn’t last long and the transmission was yanked off the air. After a brief search I found coverage on BBC but that was short lived as well.Soon it seemed like everything was blocked although it came back bit by bit as it appeared the uprising would fail.

 It was,for me,a taste of what journalists must experience in Venezuela every day whether it’s putting out information or trying to get information. After the big blackout in March,2019 and the subsequent smaller blackouts (in many areas a constant thing) it’s been hard for journalists to connect to the outside world. Besides lack of power and internet service they have to contend with the persistent problems of shortages of food,water,and gasoline…just like everyone in Venezuela. In many parts of the country journalists don’t jump in their cars to go cover a story. They jump in their cars to go wait in line for gasoline…or cooking gas…or water… or whatever.

 A good comparison of Venezuela vs the real world can be found in lawsuits related to journalism.Various members of the regime file lawsuits against the media and/or journalists all the time. In countries outside Venezuela they are almost immediately dismissed.Compare that to the 2019 award to Diosdado Cabello of $5 million by a Venezuelan judge. Cabello,who most people believe is the most powerful member of the regime, sued the website La Patilla for posting a three year old article from Spanish newspaper ABC regarding his links to drug trafficking. He knew he couldn’t get anything from ABC in a Spanish court but he could go after La Patilla in a Venezuelan court and get $5 million for “moral damage.”

 The courts are also helping the regime keep a lid on statistics it doesn’t want made public. The members of the National Assembly Finance Commission were stripped of their parliamentary immunity opening the door for for the Chavistas to go after them. The commission subsequently was missing 5 of it’s 12 members who are part of the 14 members (and counting) of the National Assembly currently in hiding or exile.

 Summary : So where are we now? Well, the government now owns 13 TV networks, 65 radio outlets, 1 news agency, and 5 newspapers. Through CONATEL’s public/private coop they control 235 radio stations, 44 TV stations, and 120 newspapers.All this while Maracaibo, the nation’s second largest city, now has NO NEWSPAPER, due to the government withholding newsprint which the government controls.

 We consumers of media were treated to the story of Karen Palacios,a musician,was released from prison (shortly after the UN Human Rights report on the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations). In May,2019 Ms. Palacios was notified her contract with the National Philharmonic would not be renewed.She posted her frustration on social media,was arrested the same day,and imprisoned for violating …wait for it…yes, the Anti-Hate law. What wasn’t reported on government media was that she had been ordered released by a judge two weeks after her arrest. Nothing happened for over a month and then she was miraculously released.By the way, she was put on probation and prohibited from talking to the media. What more do you need to know?

 That does it for us for another week. We’ll be back Monday for more fun and games but until then Have A Great Weekend everybody!!

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