Still Clapping

 There has been a lot in the news in recent weeks about the Maduro regime’s corrupt food program CLAP since it was set up a few years ago by Alex Saab, currently awaiting trial in the US. Well, we’re still “clapping” as CLAP is still in the news. The food box, which was supposed to be the answer to the starving population’s food needs, is distributed in many areas by local Chavista groups the locals call “juntas”. To those most in need the boxes are free but others can purchase the CLAP box at drastically reduced prices although the items are usually of poor quality and sometimes expired. We are now adding insult to injury as, in the state of Aragua, there is a municipality reporting that the local CLAP delegate’s “communal council” won’t accept payment for the boxes in bolivares, Venezuela’s currency. They say they need payments made in dollars to “keep services for the community up to date.” I have no idea what that means but it’s no crazier than when the riots and lootings were widespread a few years ago and business owners would arrive to survey the damage. Everything in their place of business would be gone except the cash which would litter the floor.

 Daily Mail reports that Adrian Velasquez, Chavez’s Security Chief, has been OK’d  to be extradited for money laundering and receiving bribes from disgraced businessman Raul Gorrin. His wife, the former Treasurer, was also approved for extradition last month. They are both tied to other officials close to Chavez so we’ll have to see where all this leads as with the other extraditions going on.

 Merco Press reports that the Caracas Teachers Union and others were marching for better wages for all workers,active and retired, who are now paid less than $3 a month. They are also protesting the lack of water in many schools and the fact that they have to provide their own bio-safety materials for Covid-19 protection.

 Americas Quarterly had a piece on the problems facing Latin American oil companies going forward, Venezuela a prime example. They say “only a significant change in the current political and policy framework would allow Venezuela a chance properly to tap into it’s ample gas resources, develop it’s potential for carbon storage, and maximize it’s renewable energy potential.” It’s a huge risk to Latin American oil companies as they try to transition to a lower carbon world.

 In a surprising development we have Argus Media reporting that a Venezuela court will hear the appeal of the case of the CITGO Six, convicted in 2020 after being held for over two years without a trial. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a favorable ruling but at least they agreed to hear the case.

 And on the migration front we have FX Empire telling us that Mexico is now considering tighter entry rules for Venezuelans, who have previously not needed a visa to get into the country. This comes after a request from the US that they review their,  more or less, open border policy. It’s the result of a huge spike in Venezuelans at the US/Mexico border. In 2020 the US Border Patrol registered 1,262 encounters with Venezuelans. In 2021,through September, the number stands at 47,762 and counting.The issue is likely to be addressed at this week’s US,Mexico,Canada Summit.

 We also have Telesur (government media) reporting that Maduro wants to assure everyone that after the November 21st elections for 23 governors and 335 mayors the newly elected officials will be able to hit the ground running,so to speak. He says he has established a “rapid action fund” to enable the mayors and governors to address many issues and that the funds have already been allocated. When it comes to allocating funds Chavismo doesn’t have a very good track record. I’m not talking about debt defaults or the many times they have said they have paid for one thing or another only to find that the money was never received. I’m talking about something as simple as taking deposits from citizens that were going to travel to the US. The government assured these people that their bolivars would be converted into dollars and would be available to them upon arrival in the US. As you might guess, upon arrival in the US, most of these people found the money wasn’t there.

 Remember the 3 Fundaredes Human Rights activists that were illegally detained? OK, so the Maduro regime allowed two of them to get out of jail although one is still in the slammer. Now the hearing into the charges against them has been suspended for the 10th time, so far… It’s not so bad for the two out under house arrest but for the guy still in jail it could be a long wait. Chavismo has been known to take years in situations like this. The good news is that given the high profile of the case it may not take that long.

 And hardly a day goes by that we don’t have something in the news about the Alex Saab case. It’s not surprising given the “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon” nature of this case. We even mentioned him briefly already today. Well, we now have Saab changing lawyers. His new lawyer has defended Colombian paramilitaries and former agents of Hugo Chavez. Sounds like the perfect guy for this situation.

 Oh,in case you missed it Law360 reports that a Texas court has ordered Venezuela government owned oil company PDVSA to pay 5 and 1/2 million dollars stemming from a six year old judgement.As we’ve said before, there is a litany of such cases all around the world going through the appeals process.

 And on a parting note we have 13 OAS (Organization of American States) states requesting that the Maduro regime restart the Mexico negotiations (the talks they walked away from in their Alex Saab related temper tantrum, ‘there he is again’) and release political prisoners as well as reestablishing Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

 More tomorrow….

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