Somebody Didn't Get Paid

 Our first story is by far not the most important of the day but it caught my eye for the simple reason that the second I saw it I thought “somebody didn’t get paid.” Allow me to explain, having lived in the belly of the beast,so to speak, for twelve years. In Venezuela 98% of crimes go unsolved so when I see a story about an arrest or seizure my first thought is usually “why this one?”

 CoinGape reports that 104 illegal crypto-mining  rigs were seized in a joint operation between Sunacrip (the cryptocurrency agency), Corpolec (the state-owned electric utility), and police authorities. Now, crypto-mining is not illegal in Venezuela but anyone wishing to do so must register with Sunacrip. It requires some sophisticated technical equipment and is a time consuming and, more importantly, a very electricity consuming process.

 The reason people are hesitant to register with Sunacrip isn’t to avoid taxes or anything as mundane. It’s the “shakedown factor.” It’s the same principle as when you approach one of the many control points where they check documents. If you are a foreigner you can expect to be shaken down for some cash before being waved through.That’s the reason why for my last two years there I let my wife do all the driving. It became so bad it wasn’t worth the hassle and for an American was potentially dangerous.

 With crypto-mining you hear stories all the time about people that register and then are shaken down with a visit by officials who find them in violation of one thing or another and then demand payment. Sometimes it’s not even that clear cut and the equipment is confiscated and since not everyone knows how to use it the operators are forced to work using their own equipment to pay off the officials, the police or both. The way the government finds them is through the massive amount of electricity required for the process. The simplest way to deal with the problem would be to pay off the officials and police but my guess is,for one reason or another, somebody didn’t get paid.

 Moving on, JD Supra published the Holland and Knight Venezuela Economic Outlook and mixed in with all the other information were a couple of things. First, the IMF, in August, 2021, did assign over $5 million in SDRs (special drawing rights) to Venezuela. The money can be used as a reserve but cannot be allocated due to the question of who is the legitimate president of the country.The second item is a report from Credit Suisse which seems to go against conventional wisdom. Unlike most reports they say it’s possible Venezuela may actually show a GDP increase by year’s end. While I would like to buy into the story,as with all things Chavismo-related, I’ll believe it when I see it.

 Epoch Times tells us that a CSIS panel reports that from 2010-2016 the number of oil spills in Venezuela has been severely under-reported and was actually in the neighborhood of 50,000 including all events. Even if that number is on the high side it’s worth noting that as far as the environmentalists go, Venezuela, more or less gets a pass while Brazil constantly gets hammered.

 Our next item is interesting for it’s use of the term “mild heart attack.” The Hill reports that one of the members of the CITGO six that was rearrested in Chavismo’s temper tantrum over the Saab extradition has taken a turn for the worse health-wise. He suffered what was referred to as a “mild heart attack.” I can’t help thinking about a quote from John Mellencamp when asked how he was feeling after his “mild heart attack.” He responded, “The only ‘mild heart attack’ is somebody else’s.” We wish him well which,given the state of healthcare in Venezuela , is a dicey proposition.

 Town Hall had an interesting piece from John Stossel on Venezuela. He discussed Venezuela’s Hate Law which we’ve talked about many times. Hate is in the eye of the beholder and such laws are used by governments to repress dissent. Remember that when you hear someone talk about the need for a “Hate Law.” He touched on the Chavistas increasing the size of Venezuela’s Supreme Court from 20-32 to add more Chavista friendly judges. Remember the numbers? pro Chavista rulings, 45,000 give or take. Anti Chavista rulings,zero. Remember that when you hear about someone proposing we add more justices to our Supreme Court. He also mentioned gun control and how since Chavez took everyone’s guns away in 2012 crime has skyrocketed. No real surprise. When you outlaw legal guns it’s only the outlaws that will have guns. He also touched on how excessive money printing ( MMT, modern monetary theory anyone?) has fed inflation in Venezuela, currently entering year five of hyperinflation. He covered a lot of ground and none of it was good news for the people of Venezuela. His point was, as is ours here, PAY ATTENTION! It can happen here.

 And IHS Janes reports that despite all the problems Venezuela shipyards are maintaining deliveries to the Venezuela Naval Fleet. Big surprise huh?

 Then we have the UCAB’s national Youth Survey. There are 6,817,000 citizens between ages 15-29 in Venezuela. 1/2 of them equal 40% of the low income homes. 812,000 have dropped out of school, the primary reason being to help support their families. Before the Maduro years 30% of young people in Venezuela had associate or bachelors degrees. That number is now 19%. It seems things are trending in the wrong direction for the youth of Venezuela, those that haven’t fled the country.

 And speaking of those who have stayed, the Venezuela Observatory of Social Conflict reported 568 protests in September.

 And then we have the head of the TSJ (Venezuela’s Supreme Court), Maikel Moreno, Remember him…the convicted murderer?) meeting with the head of the Red Cross. My question is…why? Could it have anything to do with Karim Khan, the Chief Prosecutor for the ICC (International Criminal Court) paying a visit to Venezuela? Are we demonstrating some positive outreach here?

 We also have two of the three Fundaredes Human Rights activists being released from jail. More positive outreach from Chavismo? And what about the third guy?

 And in case you missed it, Captain Luis De La Sotta  is in need of urgent medical care. He has been held in jail since May,2018 without a trial. I guess they can’t just let everybody out.

 Just to set the record straight, I know we report a lot of negative news here. There’s a reason for it. Almost all the news regarding life in Venezuela is negative. I look for good stuff every day and unfortunately good news is in short supply. Telesur (government media) bombards the news feed daily with dozens of positive stories but they’re almost all about what’s going on in other countries. The positive stories about Venezuela are usually something like this one. Telesur reports Nicolas Maduro announces that 67% of Venezuelans are already vaccinated. This is close to the Chavista’s stated goal of 70% by the end of October (revised from the end of September which was revised from the end of August). The only problem is that about a week ago PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) reported the actual vaccination rate in Venezuela to be at 22% despite the over 50% touted by Maduro.

 We’ll keep digging for more good news and when we find it we’ll be more than happy to report it for the sake of family and friends still trapped there. More tomorrow…

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