Before we get started on the news, a quick reflection on something I was thinking about over the weekend…Why Nicolas Maduro? The question I was pondering has to do with why Chavez,when he became ill and subsequently died, asked his followers to support Nicolas Maduro?

 Chavez is always seen as this populist leader. He swept to power promising to uplift the masses through 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. He has always been viewed as a man of the people. He may not have been the brightest guy in the world but he wasn’t stupid.So, this leads us to a choice. Either he truly cared about the Venezuelan people and was the worst judge of character ever totally misreading what kind of person Nicolas Maduro really was or he knew exactly what kind of person Maduro really was. He did,after all, know the man for decades so I think it’s likely he knew Maduro to be exactly who, and what, he is.

 If Chavez knew,and I contend that he did, 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism, was living on borrowed time since Chavez and his partners in crime had not only looted the Venezuelan coffers during a time of unprecedented high oil prices but also borrowed over $60 billion from the Chinese. Oil prices couldn’t stay at that level …never had…never would. So, when prices cycled back down, even a little, it would be hard times for Chavismo. Since everything about 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism revolved around Chavez and his charisma and popularity why would he ask the people to support someone like Maduro who had,and has, no charisma whatsoever, and has never been popular,even among his own party. Is it possible Chavez knew that after he was gone Chavismo would need a completely ruthless ideologue, who would do whatever it took to prolong the life of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism and the rule of the Chavistas, even at the expense of the Venezuelan people? The choice is yours…

 Now, to the news. We’ll begin,as you might expect, with the Barinas governor’s race. Let’s recap…Freddy Superlano won the election for Governor of Barinas, the birthplace of Hugo Chavez and perpetual Chavista stronghold, over Chavez’s brother. The vote tallies were hijacked by Plan Republica and taken to the TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) and Freddy was arbitrarily disqualified. The Chavistas simply couldn’t allow such a repudiation of Chavismo. So now we have a revote in January. The CNE (electoral council) has changed the electoral registry. Jorge Arreaza (Chavista) and Claudio Fermin (OPPINO, ‘opposition in name only’) are now registered to vote in Barinas as well as Caracas and Miranda. Despite being illegal this gives Chavismo a decided advantage. In addition, the Office of the Comptroller has barred four candidates from running. Don’t forget, it was Plan Republica taking the legitimate vote tallies to the TSJ that started this whole mess,but that said, is there any recourse for the opposition in light of these blatant electoral violations? The answer is NO! Are these the free and fair elections Maduro constantly assured us would be the case?

 Among the four candidates barred by the CNE are Freddy Superlano’s wife,who is very popular among the electorate and Julio Cesar Reyes, next in line for candidacy after Freddy. So with the top two candidates disqualified you have the Chavista candidate, who isn’t a resident of Barinas as required by law, facing off against two parallel opposition candidates, Adolfo Superlano (no relation but involved in the TSJ disqulification of Freddy Superlano) and Claudio Fermin splitting votes with the only real opposition candidate left,Sergio Garrido, who hasn’t been barred…yet.

 It’s also worth noting that Barinas was the state with the longest delay in the vote tallies. I guess it took the Chavistas some time to get the trumped up allegations to the TSJ,And a deputy (representative) from Maduro’s National Assembly, Diva Guzman, assures us that Jorge Areazza’s lack of residency in Barinas isn’t important (although required by law) since he’s a national leader.

 We also have my guy, Leopoldo Lopez, bashing former opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, for his links to the government. Why else would he be talking to the opposition leaning “scorpions” as the OPPINOs are called? And some are still talking about a restart of the Mexico negotiations between Chavismo and the opposition. new talks…possible…but only if it serves Chavismo’s purposes and only after a conclusion in the Alex Saab case which Maduro still calls a ‘kidnapping’.

 Moving on…we have The Cable (Nigeria) reporting that the Nigerian Ambassador to Venezuela says they’re working on a direct airline connection between the two countries. I mean really, who needs to connect with the rest of the  world when you can have a direct connection between Caracas, Tehran, Moscow, and Lagos,Nigeria?

 We also have the National Academy of Medicine telling us that Omicron should arrive in Venezuela in the next few weeks.

 Then we have Telesur (government media) saying that PDVSA (government owned oil company) reports current production levels at 930,000 bpd (barrels per day). Even if you believe these numbers, could it have anything to do with PDVSA scrambling to reach Maduro’s goal of one million bpd by the end of the year (revised down from 1 and 1/2 million bpd) utilizing contracts to little known companies and paying in scrap metal and backpacks full of cash (as reported by BNN Bloomberg)?

 Also on the oil front we have US News and World Report telling us that Maduro will replace Tareck El Aissami as Oil Minister (he of the US sanctions for drug trafficking and ties to terrorism) due to health reasons. His replacement will be, Asdrubal Chavez, current PDVSA president and cousin to the late Hugo Chavez.

 We also have the news that Tachira governor Freddy Bernal (still under US sanction) will take over the state police which was previously reassigned when an opposition governor won the office.

 And lest we forget the ongoing migration crisis, IOM (International Organization for Migration) and the UNHCR (UN refugee agency) are seeking $1.8 billion to assist countries dealing with the over 6 million Venezuelan migrants that have fled the horrors of the Maduro regime.

 More tomorrow….

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