5 Point Plan

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first a little something from the news feed. Clearly, the Alex Saab extradition to the US is the biggest thing to come down the pike regarding Venezuela and the Maduro regime in quite a while but how is it playing in Venezuela? As you might think, the presentation of the story is a bit one sided. Havana Times reports that Venezuela national radio and TV are bombarding the populace constantly with their 5 Point Plan. It’s like mid-twentieth century propaganda and goes something like this…

1/Alex Saab is a revolutionary political freedom fighter

2/He was exercising diplomatic functions on behalf of Venezuela

3/Saab was abducted by US imperialism and his detention is directly related to “the blockade” (their term for US sanctions) and economic warfare

4/ The plan by those evil imperialists is to punish him for being a revolutionary and his commitment to Venezuela and “the legacy of our eternal commander, Hugo Chavez” (When all else fails they play the eternal commander Chavez card)

5/International pressure and the solidarity of the world’s countries would make possible his liberation

 The Times continued…He’s not a social warrior or political prisoner. He’s a criminal. “If Saab should talk …the greatest embezzlement in history, leveraging the hunger of millions of people.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 And while all this other stuff like extraditions, elections,etc. have been happening  we shouldn’t forget than there are still people lined up around the globe going through the process of getting financial restitution from the Chavistas for their expropriations and defaults. Investing.com reminds us that US protection for CITGO ends in January (unless extended) and it includes claims by both creditors and PDVSA 2020 bond holders. Remember, the PDVSA 2020 bonds were sold with CITGO as collateral in the event of default. (at the time Venezuela had never defaulted on it’s bond obligations) Last ditch talks are underway.

 On the Covid-19 front the Chavistas are still wanting us to believe they have everything under control. Telesur (government media) reports that Maduro says they will begin vaccinating children over 12 years of age this week with their eventual goal of vaccinating all over 3 years old. To support this effort he says they will have over 16 million doses of Cuban vaccines before the end of the year. (remember them… the non-WHO approved vaccines?) He also announced the new vaccination goal of 95% and says they’re already at 53%. (the real number is about 22% and their deadline of the end of October to reach 70% is rapidly approaching) He went on to tell us that Venezuela will begin producing the Cuban Abdala vaccine in January at the Vaccine Production Plant founded by Hugo Chavez. Is it just me or does anybody else remember the Hugo Chavez rice production facility? That would be the one that was the largest rice growing and processing complex in the Western Hemisphere and was going to feed millions! The same one that at the ribbon cutting ceremony showed the rice bags coming out of the front of the facility while in the back the bags were being filled by hand from bulk shipments of imported rice and to date has never produced even one bag of rice to feed starving Venezuelans. But I digress…

 Now’s as good a time as any to head Down The Rabbit Hole…

….One theme that seemed to surface time and again was good intentions (at least vocally) gone bad.What they proposed always sounded good, generally started out well, and ended badly. The reason for this repeated pattern, they ran out of money. Free healthcare sounds great. Who isn’t in favor of that? With one caveat.., the one nobody wants to talk about…how will it be paid for? When I hear “There’s plenty of money” or “we’ll figure it out” I’m reminded of Nancy Pelosi’s famous statement regarding the “Affordable Care Act” (which tripled my premiums, by the way). “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” Then it turns out that what’s in it isn’t exactly what we were told but it’s too late. Don’t give me platitudes and generalizations, I want details…how does it work and who,exactly, is pecking up the tab? There is no free lunch!

 Another major problem for Venezuela, which became evident when the money ran out, is keeping the military happy. Authoritarian regimes maintain power through control of the military. When oil revenues nosedived and they had already squandered or stolen all the borrowed money Maduro began ceding control of various sectors of the economy to the military since he couldn’t just pay them outright. First he put them in control of the oil business which is responsible for almost all of the Venezuelan Government’s revenue (legal revenue anyway). He also turned over control of the distribution of food,medicine,gasoline, and other important items, even water. Another bone thrown the military’s way was control of the “Mining Arc”. They pretty much are in charge of everything of consequence in Venezuela and to make it pay off for them that meant there had to be corruption of pretty much everything of consequence in Venezuela. The problem for Maduro is that all those things have collapsed so the corrupt distribution isn’t as lucrative as you would think.

 The extra food and healthcare benefits for the military have also been severely degraded so the only ones really benefiting are those at the top. Now you know why an army of 150,000 actual soldiers (not militia etc.) has 2,000 generals. Many of the rank and file are unhappy (cue the Cuban infiltrators to their ranks for control) and view their commanders with contempt.A journalist in the Caracas airport saw a general walk past a small group of soldiers and they didn’t even salute! They may not voice their displeasure for fear of retribution but it’s clearly out there.

 To be continued….

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