Plan Without Planning

 The headline read “A budget that lacks planning.” Maduro’s National Assembly (not to be confused with the duly elected 2015 National Assembly) approved the budget for 2022, presented in the local currency,the bolivar, of just over $13 and 1/2 billion at today’s exchange rate. VP Delcy Rodriguez says it will fight against hyperinflation (but didn’t say how) and said that 77% of the budget will be used for social investment.

 I give the Chavistas credit for actually publishing some kind of budget but it must be recognized for what it is…meaningless!

 VP Delcy,despite being Finance minister, didn’t release any projections for the necessary components of the budget and spending like projected inflation, the currency exchange rate, GDP, oil price/revenue, or other income.

 On the spending side it’s a black box. When Hugo Chavez rewrote the Constitution and restructured Venezuelan Government and society he changed accountability rules. In the US we at least have a Congressional Budget Office to take a look at some of the proposed madness and give an evaluation, like Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal which was presented as costing $1.75 billion, all of it paid for , but after evaluation it was scored at well over $4 billion (closer to 5) and would add approximately $3 billion to the debt since the projected spending wasn’t covered by demonstrable revenue after the budget gimmicks were removed.

 If you want to understand how the Chavistas were able to steal the massive amount of money they robbed from the Venezuelan people (estimated at over $600 billion, some put it at closer to a $ trillion) FONDEN would be a good place to start. You see, Chavez set it up so that the National Assembly had oversight of 40% of government spending. The other 60% would be funneled through the government entity, FONDEN, which was accountable  to no one. What could possibly go wrong? So despite unprecedented years of record high oil prices and borrowing another over $60 billion from China the government is now essentially broke. The set up for 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism enabled the Chavistas to steal it all (I didn’t even mention the plundering of the nation’s gold reserves.

 So now we have a government that approves a budget based on no reliable projections of revenue and no accountability for spending. It is simply a bunch of numbers that are,well, meaningless. Viva La Revolucion!

 I’ll keep this next one brief. AP did a piece on reaction to the Chavista’s theft of the election in Barinas titled “Vote Shock In Chavez’s Homeland.” Farmer, Julio Alvarez hasn’t sold milk in 18 months. Fuel shortages make transportation of milk almost impossible so he makes cheese. It’s a lot less profitable but is easier to store and transport.Alvarez is a good example of the attitude of most Venezuelans. He is fed up with the Chavistas so he voted for the opposition in the Barinas governor’s race and will vote opposition in the upcoming re-vote although he has no hope the new candidate can do anything to improve the situation. And FYI, National leader, Iris Varela, former Prisons Minister, says that Freddy Superlano’s disqualification after winning the governor’s race in Barinas was the “work of God.” Maybe the work of Chavismo’s god but really it was just the TSJ (supreme court) playing God …again.

 We have mentioned before that Venezuela is among the leading countries in the world in cryptocurrency adoption.This is based, not on desire,but on desperation. While the traditional economy in Venezuela is in shambles the digital economy is thriving. During the last two years there have been over 3,000 new tech start ups in Venezuela.There are Bitcoin ATMs. Cryptocurrency is accepted at fast food places,supermarkets, restaurants, even street vendors. The question is, will they be allowed to evolve?

 Remember Telesur (government media) decrying it’s deactivation by Instagram,saying they were independent? In truth, they simply follow the lead of Chavismo.They only publish puff pieces about Venezuela or unverifiable reports by the government. The rest of their material is purely a distraction. Case in point, yesterday I had 23 stories in the news feed put out there by Telesur. There were two stories that actually pertained to Venezuela and nothing significant in either. The rest were all “feel good” stories about how great things are in regime friendly countries like Nicaragua,Cuba, Belarus,etc.

 Venezuela has at least 132 military officers and 113 civilians as political prisoners but just to show the ICC (International Criminal Court),currently investigating “alleged” Human Rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime,they’re serious about self-investigating, Maduro’s National Assembly approved a first draft of the “special law for crimes of genocide,war crimes,and crimes against humanity.” They also approved the first draft of the “law for justice and reparations for victims of Human Rights violations.” All this as Humberto Prado released a summary of Human Rights violations to international organizations, “Tales of Torture…” the silent reality of imprisoned military officers ,attacks on press freedoms,and the lethality and impunity of FAES (another part of the 3 headed monster of Maduro’s ‘not so secret’ security services). It’s hard not to think about the military officer the Chavistas wheeled into court for his hearing that could barely utter the words “Help Me” to the judge and who subsequently died of his torture related injuries.

 And in the never ending financial shuffle going on with Chavismo we have Law360  telling us that PDVSA (government owned oil company) claims it couldn’t make payments on $118 million in debt due to US sanctions. They’re trying this strategy with all their debts…and failing. They just lost a case last week.

 More tomorrow….

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