Not Venezuela But...

 Our first story today is not about Venezuela but I think it’s important and it’s not getting much play in the international media, not to mention the fact that the Maduro regime owes a lot of it’s staying power to Cuba. On Monday the Cuban government continued it’s repression of those protesting for change in Cuba. They harassed organizers of peaceful protests,journalists, and activists with political police and arrests. They won’t issue permits for protests which are required for large gatherings. The repression is selective to avoid coverage by the international media but it is repression nonetheless and the strategy has worked. The story has largely been ignored. We will not ignore it here.

 Now for a little more “inside baseball” on Venezuelan politics with the elections just a few days away. The state of Carabobo features a governor’s race between the opposition’s Enzo Scarano and Rafael “Dracula” Lacava. There are several stories about his moniker “Dracula” so we’ll leave it for you to judge but there aren’t too many places where a politician would not try to distance himself from the infamous vampire. Far from it. Lacava’s headquarters can be seen with all the trappings associated with Bram Stoker’s deliciously evil villain and bat silhouettes seem to festoon everything associated with him.

 Enzo Scarano is a former mayor of San Diego as is his wife. After the Chavistas blocked his political candidacy in 2017 he left. Rafael Lacava, on the other hand, has been right in the middle of things, for better or for worse. He has a huge media presence and gets support from non-Chavistas as well as his own party. We also have former presidential candidate,Javier Bertucci in the mix but he is basically an afterthought as he seems to throw his hat in the ring for everything. The majority of people are apathetic regarding the election, as seems to be the case in most of Venezuela, or they blame Scarano for leaving them. One local political observer said “We don’t know how to vote. We are a circus.”

 Another race that captured my attention is the race for governor of Nueva Esparta. It’s categorized as “Opposition Vs Opposition” with boycotted primaries, an old AD (Accion Democratica) leader playing for Chavismo, a protector (the unconstitutional position “Protector of the People” created by Maduro) hiding his red identity. Margarita, which is basically the entire state of Nueva Esparta,has a new political landscape with old faces. From C.C.

 There are no new players in this governor’s race. Current governor, Alfreo Diaz, beat the widely unpopular Chavista, Mata Figueroa, in the last election but governed in the shadow “Protector of the People” Dante Rivas, also president of Corpo Nueva Esparta, an institution set up to give “The Protector” power over the fuel supply,CLAP (the government’s fraudulent food program),water rationing, and other essentials.Rivas is Chavista elite having held positions as Minister For Agriculture and Fishing,Minister of Commerce, Minister of Environment,and Director of SAIME (the agency for citizens identification). He was also a lawmaker in Maduro’s National Assembly (not the duly elected 2015 National Assembly) The opposition will split the vote between Diaz and long time politician, Morel Rodriguez, although he’s 80 years old and looking for his 7th term as governor.This is good for Dante but a local political insider says it’s still up in the air.

 Nueva Esparta is the same as the national scene. You have self-interested opposition leaders putting personal desires ahead of the good of the party (and the people) when if one stepped aside it would be a huge benefit to the opposition but Morel is running on the side of “the scorpions”, the shadow opposition, tacitly endorsed by Chavismo. Morel is much like the Biden candidacy was in the US. It’s “the good old days” and free food just as Biden ran on “the good old days” of the Obama presidency and plenty of government handouts.Diaz’s challenge is he governed  in the worst economic situation ever and was blocked from doing anything effective by “The Protector”, Rivas. Dante is running a smart albeit unusual campaign for a Chavista. He never mentions Chavez nor Maduro nor “the revolution”. One local journalist believes there is a deal between Diaz and Rivas involving a mayorship for Diaz’s wife ….rumors abound. The only thing certain at this point is “Venezuela has changed in every aspect but one : politicians.”

 The Wilson Center had a good piece on the state of the opposition.They said that the opposition must constantly evaluate, participate or boycott, and needs coordination and coherence. They had clear mechanisms for decision making in 2015 (a landslide victory for the opposition) which helped mitigate internal conflict. Now they are fragmented.

 We also have this from The Brazilian Report. It seems Operation Welcome for the Venezuelan migrants fleeing the Maduro regime isn’t a very rosy scenario. In the border towns chaos still reigns.

 El Tiempo reports that Colombia deported two Venezuelans after intelligence reports showed them working for DGCIM (part of Maduro’s 3 Headed Monster of security services) and GNB (National Guard).

 We also have the President of Student Council Federation and the head of the Professors Association petitioning the UNOHCHR (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) to preserve university autonomy, under threat from the Maduro regime.

 And in a move that is quintessential Chavismo, we have ABC (Spain) reporting that DGCIM arrested  the nanny of “The Chicken” upon  returning to Venezuela as well as the cousin of Carvajal’s wife and charged them with conspiracy to attack the elections.When the Maduro regime can’t get to someone they want they grab anyone they can to try to put pressure on the real target not to talk.

 And then we have The News Tribune telling us that disgraced Miami professor, Bruce Bagley has received a sentence of six months in jail for his role in yet another Venezuela money laundering scheme. The reduced sentence is reportedly due to Bagley’s advanced age and ill health.

 That’s as good a place as any to leave things for today. More tomorrow….

©Copyright 2021 all right reserved.