No Place Like It

 Before we get to more news, I came across a travel related article I wanted to share with you. It was from Euronews/Travel and talked about how everyone should have a trip to Venezuela on their “Bucket List”. I can understand it even though I recently “escaped” from there.There really is no place like it.

 I had always associated Venezuela with a more jungle/rain forest type environment ever since I saw a TV program about finding the world record anaconda there…I think it was something like 36 feet long! Even after I was exposed to Margarita Island and it’s marvelous Caribbean beaches etc. I had no idea of the diverse nature of Venezuela although I did ask my man Pedro if there were any anacondas on Margarita and,to my surprise, the answer was yes.

 We already covered here the fact that there are more bird species in the Los Llanos region of Venezuela than in all of the US and UK combined so it’s obviously a prime destination for bird watchers.I was also told by a friend of mine that it’s also popular with sport fishermen. I even discovered a world class wind surfing beach on Margarita. But that was just the beginning.

 I had heard of Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall, before but didn’t remember that it was in Venezuela. In fact, the region containing Angel Falls is also known for being the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Lost World” although,again, even though I read it I didn’t connect it with Venezuela. The premise of the novel is that high atop a mesa there is a land untouched by civilization containing dinosaurs,etc…much more believable back in the day. The Canaima area contains a number of these spectacular mesas. They are “tabletops” with vertical walls rising thousands of feet straight up and do even have species that are found only there.

 Of course there is the Amazon area with it’s jungle-like environs but until I lived there I never associated Venezuela with the Andes mountains.There are snow-capped peaks even though it’s on the equator and Merida is the home of the world’s highest elevation cable car. Who knew?

 The Venezuelan government, historically, didn’t make tourism a priority. Perhaps because with it’s oil wealth they didn’t need the money. The Euro News article was predictably targeting Europeans to travel there and they did have a few “advisories”. They mentioned the rampant crime (Caracas has for years been one of the murder capitals of the world) and the likelihood of kidnapping and robbery. They also mentioned the inconvenience of no healthcare. Then there is the double Covid-19 testing. Travelers must have a Covid-19 test before boarding the plane bound for Caracas and then must submit to another test on arrival. You must also be aware of the 7+7 Covid-19 travel policy once you are there. Although it’s been suspended for the holidays, it an unusual situation. For seven days you are free to travel about the country but for the next seven days you will be subject to a lockdown no matter where you are in the country. Plan accordingly.

 I understand that travel anywhere is probably safer for Europeans than Americans and to dispel a common misconception Venezuelans love Americans (unlike their government). That said, until there is a change of government and there is some semblance of a rule of law (not to mention some semblance of healthcare), even though there truly is no place like it, I would advise against traveling there. Better save that spot on the bucket list for later.

 In the news feed we have more election related news that I touched on briefly the other day. It concerns the governor’s race in the state of Barinas, the birthplace of Hugo Chavez, and a longtime stronghold of Chavismo. Venezuela’s number two man (some say number one),Diosdado Cabello, calls it “El Comandante’s state”. Opposition candidate Freddy Superlano won the election over Chavez’s brother, Argenis Chavez.  There were some irregularities and some issues with the vote tallies and motions filed but at the end of the day, so to speak, Argenis renounced the governorship.

 You might think that with their overall landslide victory in the elections this would just be a side note and we would move on. Not so fast… the Chavistas just couldn’t let it go and it’s a prime example of what’s wrong in Venezuela. Even with the international media paying more attention to the elections than at any time since the Chavistas took power and with international observers in country Chavismo can’t help being Chavismo.

 It started when motions were filed in court regarding vote tallies in the custody of the FANB (Venezuela Armed Forces) to ensure they were properly counted. (Don’t get me started on why the FANB is involved at all) Since the courts were involved it opened the door to the TSJ (Venezuela’s Supreme Court). Remember them? The Supreme Court presided over by a convicted murderer. The TSJ stepped in and annulled the election results and it had nothing to do with vote tallies. They ruled that Freddy Superlano wasn’t eligible to run despite being allowed by the CNE (electoral council) due to an agreement reached in the Mexico negotiations between the Maduro regime and the opposition.They said he had previously been barred from public office and didn’t recognize his candidacy. No mention of the agreement. There will be a re-vote on January 9th,2022 and it’s not clear who the candidates will be. Remember, when the TSJ annulled the victories of four members of the National Assembly (to prevent an opposition super majority) they were never replaced so who knows what will happen. What is clear, once again, is Chavismo’s version of the law…” It is what we say it is.”

 More tomorrow….

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