Real Money

 OK, so we’ve all heard the phrase “A few million here,a few million there,and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” One thing you have to say about the Chavistas, they didn’t fool around when it came to stealing from the Venezuelan people. They stole real money.You have the former Treasurer in Miami who will be out of jail either this year or next who had a Swiss bank account with $11 billion. And who is the richest woman in Venezuela? That would be the daughter of Hugo Chavez, worth a cool $4 billion. These are but a couple of examples of the massive theft that took place. I used to wonder why Chavez, and later Maduro, needed to borrow $60 billion from the Chinese when they enjoyed years of record high oil prices leading to record revenues. When you produce over 3,000,000 bpd (barrels per day) and oil is selling for well over $100 a barrel you’re bringing in a lot of money.Surely that should have been enough,right? Well not when you have a few billion here and a few billion there in Swiss bank accounts. You’re going to need every penny of that $60 billion. Now that the extraditions are happening maybe we’ll find out exactly how and, more importantly, exactly who was on the receiving end of all those billions, most estimates are north of $600 billion stolen. Now that’s real money.

 And speaking of all that oil money,according to OPEC figures, Venezuela produced 486,000 bpd in 2020. It seems like a lot except,as we just said, that’s down from over 3 million bpd. The OPEC numbers are all we have to go by since PDVSA (national oil company) hasn’t released production figures since 2016.

 While we’re on the subject of releasing (or not) figures we have the IACHR (Inter American Council for Human Rights) telling us that, at least anecdotally, things are getting worse for women and girls in Venezuela. It’s difficult to track exactly how bad they are since the government has no public policy and made the decision years ago not to release figures. As we mentioned before, if you want to see what happens when you release figures in Maduro’s Venezuela look no further than the Health Minister that released figures pertaining to epidemiology. She was fired after only a week on the job.

We still have no explanation as to why the hearing for the three Fundaredes Human Rights activists was suspended and then two of them were subsequently released. They aren’t talking, as is usually the case with prisoners released by Chavismo. Until they can get out of Venezuela we probably won’t know what happened…and what about the third guy? What’s going on with him?

 We also have SEBIN (one of three ‘not so secret’ police groups) threatening union leaders and family of detained workers as they protested outside of the EU office in Caracas. Now that we have increased visibility by the EU with the electoral monitoring mission etc. it also brings increased scrutiny by the secret police.

 We do, however, have some potential good news though. Army Recognition reports that the proposed plant for AK-103 production, a joint venture with Russia, will start by the end of 2022. Maybe they’ll have better luck than the Chinese had with “the world’s largest rice paddy and processing facility” that,to date, hasn’t produced a single  bag of rice to feed starving Venezuelans. The Russians have a chance since at least they’ll be producing something the Chavistas are interested in, weapons.

 In the head scratcher category we have International Liberty reporting… “How is it possible that the New York Times did an in depth article on the economic crisis in Venezuela without mentioning socialism?”

 And we have this headline from McClatchy DC, “We Know How Venezuela’s Elections Will End. Will Foreign Observers Endorse The Farce?” Again, the fraud has already been committed, it’s not the vote count. Juan Guaido  says that 85% of Venezuelans reject Maduro. “We protested and they killed us. We formed opposition parties and they declared them illegal.” It’s worth noting that while 85% of Venezuelans reject the Maduro regime they’re not that thrilled with the opposition either.

 Caracas Chronicles did a good piece on where we are with the ICC (International Criminal Court) investigation into Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime. It began in September, 2018. In phase 1 the crimes were identified. In phase 2 the crimes were evaluated with information from mostly civilian organizations. We are now in phase 3, “Are the crimes admissible and is the Venezuelan government investigating them?” That’s the big question surrounding ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan’s, visit to Venezuela. His predecessor,Fatou Bensouda, a known Maduro apologist, stated in her report that there was evidence crimes against humanity had been committed. The reason for Khan’s visit is to review Venezuela’s Justice System.  So far, no high ranking officials involved have been investigated nor processed. The UNHCHR and OAS reports have both said there is no independent judiciary in Venezuela. There are a lot of questions and few answers. Like, “what happened to Captain Rafael Acosta” and “who ordered it?”  Remember Captain Acosta? After several days in custody by security services he was wheeled into court for his preliminary hearing (he was unable to walk). The judge was so shocked by the blatant signs of abuse and torture he ordered him taken to a medical facility after he uttered the words”Help Me”. He subsequently died of his injuries.

 The Maduro regime has made some recent prisoner releases and jail renovations (or demolitions) to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and justice. This after the TSJ (Venezuela’s Supreme Court) in 2001 normalized arbitrary detention  and so there is no right to due process or freedom. Khan can choose to proceed to Phase 4,the actual opening of an official investigation into the Maduro regime, can remain in Phase 3, or he can order the examination closed. What will he do?

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