Remembering 2014

 The title of the NBC News article read “Venezuelans struggle to afford food as hunger increases across the Americas.” It prompted me to remember 2014. Nicolas Maduro took power in 2013 and it didn’t take the Venezuelans long to begin suffering. They were starving back then so this issue with hunger is nothing new. Remember what Harry Truman said, “The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know.”

 Back then the Venezuela people had a few bucks in their pockets although it wasn’t much.The food problem then was twofold. They didn’t have enough money to afford more expensive items, you know,like those that contained protein. The second issue was that due to price controls most of the items they could afford disappeared from the shelves. The people would wait in line for hours when a delivery was expected at their local grocery store. At first they were relatively well behaved and they would accept the rationing of things like only being allowed to purchase two bags of rice or two boxes of pasta.Then as the hunger deepened and the shortages continued they grew more desperate. The rioting and looting began and the military was used to keep order when deliveries of food were made.

 The people began to protest and took to the streets in what was called the “Guarimba.” They would block streets, burn tires, and carry signs “We’re starving” etc. Maduro wasted no time in repressing these protests and soon people were being jailed,shot,and killed. 40 protesters were killed during the “Guarimba” with many more injured and a whole lot more jailed…simply because they were hungry. It didn’t garner much attention on the international stage as it happened at the same time the Russians invaded the Ukraine. Just a case of bad timing as were the protests of 2017 when Kim Jong Un was firing off rockets and the attention of the world was diverted from the suffering of the Venezuelans even as 165 protesters were killed. In these protests they were out in the streets lamenting the shortage of almost everything but lack of affordable food was at the forefront.

 Remember 2014 when you hear people decrying the sanctions by the US as the cause of Venezuela’s problems.The first sanctions didn’t come down until 2015 and they were almost exclusively against individuals with the government not really targeted until 2017 so,as you can see, the people have been starving for a long time and the blame lies at the feet of Nicolas Maduro and the corrupt Chavista regime. In the words of NBA star and activist Enes Kanter, “Even though there is no war in Venezuela, people suffer as if they had one because they’re victims of a cruel dictatorship.”

 Well, the ballot is set,at least for now, for the re-vote in January for the governor’s seat in Barinas that was stolen from opposition victor,Freddy Superlano. We have Sergio Garrido from the opposition and Jorge Arreaza from Chavismo as the two headliners.Then we have Claudio Fermin, OPPINO (opposition in name only) controlled by the TSJ,Adolfo Superlano (no relation to Freddy) who was responsible for the request to the TSJ that voided Freddy Superlano’s legitimate victory,Pedro Diaz from Movimiento Ecologico, and rounding out the field we have Aldemaro Sanoja representing the Communist Party of Venezuela who was recently barred from running by the Copmptroller’s Office. We’ll see how long he lasts since the Chavistas are unlikely to allow him to take votes away from Jorge Arreaza. It will be interesting to see what other tricks the Chavistas have up their sleeve as this farce plays out…but not under the eyes of the EU-EOM (European Union Electoral Observation Mission) who has been kicked out of the land of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 In the usual good news/bad news fashion of stories about Venezuela we have the Venezuela Observatory of Finance telling us that inflation was down to 6% in November. I know…in the US we see 6% inflation as huge but in Venezuela it may be a sign hyperinflation is ending. Good news huh? Now for the bad news. The Christmas season is traditionally the time for Venezuelan’s to enjoy their holiday favorite food, the hallaca,a delicious giant tamale-like offering. The bad news is that we have the Venezuela Observatory of Finance also telling us that the cost to prepare an hallaca is now about $2.70. It may not seem like much to us here in the US but it’s a month’s wages to many Venezuelans.

 Also on the financial front we have Maduro telling us that he estimates oil revenue will finance 61% of the national budget for 2022 (Has anybody seen this budget?) expecting to take in $8.2 billion for the year. $8.2 billion isn’t a whole lot of money for the year so I guess they’ll have to get by on money from drug trafficking and illegal gold sales.

 Also in oil news we have the US Justice Department announcing the sale of oil seized from Iranian tankers headed for Venezuela. The over $26 million will be placed in the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which seems like poetic justice (pun intended) as Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

 And before I forget, the trial of disgraced Colombian businessman (and the man at the center of Maduro’s illicit financial dealings), Alex Saab, won’t start on January 3rd,2022. The court will advise a new start date on January 7th.

 And what would a Venezuela news day be without something pertaining to Human Rights violations committed by the Maduro regime? NGO Control Ciudadano reports 73 people were killed by police and the military in November. For the third quarter the number of extrajudicial killings comes in at 372.

 We also have the Crimes Against Humanity Records Network telling us that they’re trying to track Venezuelans that fled the country before reporting acts committed by state officers.

 And the ICC’s (International Criminal Court) Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, said this regarding his office’s investigation into Human Rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas. “There are no predetermined objectives…aren’t preconceived results…The work of my office is to follow the evidence.” Is it just me or does this sound like a preemptive strike against what Chavismo is sure to say?

 More tomorrow….

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