Failed Petro State

 After our holiday hiatus we’re ready to look forward to what the year has in store for the dystopian world that is Venezuela. We’ll be getting to our reprise of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole ,” How an emerging market democratic country was destroyed by “21st Century Bolivarian Socialism”,in a moment but first a little catch up.

 The headline from the Council on Foreign Relations says it all, Venezuela, A Failed Petro State, a “Petro State” being a country  mostly, or totally dependent on resource revenue. In Venezuela oil revenue accounts for 99% of exports and 25% of GDP. Production has recently picked up but is still a fraction of the over 3 million bpd (barrels per day) pre Bolivarian Socialism. For the period from 2014-2020, all under the Nicolas Maduro regime, GDP is down 2/3. The total debt burden is $150 billion or higher by many estimates. They are still in hyperinflation although that’s been easing a bit as of late, substantially due to the de facto dollarization occurring. Maduro has violated all basic tenets of democracy. 96% of the population live in poverty (a far cry from the 50 % poverty rate that was much lamented when Hugo Chavez took power) and 77% live in extreme poverty. Over 6 million migrants have fled Venezuela under Chavismo. There are other countries where a strong democracy and independent judiciary have curtailed the problems of over reliance on petro income. They cite Norway as an example. The article goes on quite a bit but you get the idea…Venezuela is a “Failed Petro State.”

 While we were away Communications Minister, Jorge Arreaza, gave a statement with all kinds of PR “happy talk” about the Maduro regime as of late. Obviously no mention was made of the Barinas governor’s race stolen by the Chavistas. There was plenty of “free Alex Saab” stuff though. Everyone’s favorite corrupt businessman and architect of Maduro’s fraudulent financial dealings is due in US court this month much to the consternation of Maduro and other Chavistas.

 Merco Press gave us an update on the Covid-19 situation in Venezuela. Maduro says “Omicron has arrived” and went on to tout his regime’s 87% vaccination rate. The PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) puts that number at about 40%.

 Telesur tells us that the 87% vaccination rate is due to “superior and collective conscience” according to Maduro. Don’t you love a third world Marxist dictator referring to “collective conscience” even if he’s talking about to fictitious numbers.

 And in case you were wondering, there was no “Christmas Miracle” pertaining to the Venezuela migrant crisis over the holidays. UNHCR(UN Refugee Agency) tells us they’re stepping up operations in Northern Chile, the border with Bolivia,as 400-500 migrants and refugees crossed daily in the last two months. They anticipate they will need another $20 million in assistance just to keep up.

 We’re reprising the Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment in our daily dispatches for a good reason. Even as I was writing and researching it I had to keep going over and over it again just to get my head around the pervasive nature of the destruction wrought on the Venezuelan population by Chavismo. It provides a good perspective,or balance if you will, on what’s going on today. My apologies if it seems redundant but hopefully you’ll find it helpful in understanding where we are, how we got here, and where we’re going. So…here we go…

 Chapter 1/ A way too common conversation…

 As we pulled into the hospital parking lot I was taken aback, it was empty!

“Just pull up over there at the far end past the morgue” directed Duglimar.

 “Where is everybody,Dugs (pronounced Doogs)?”

 “Didn’t you know? The hospital is closed. We’re going to that small building over there for administration.That’s where we get our yellow cards.”

 “I didn’t see anything in the newspapers or on TV. How can that not be news?”

 “The government controls distribution of newsprint so the papers don’t print anything that’s too negative or they won’t get any paper,and you know what the TV coverage is like.”

 “Yeah, self-censorship or you get yanked off the air.”

 Duglimar shrugged her shoulders. “It’s not like it really matters anyway. In Venezuela you go to the hospital to die.”

That conversation stayed with me for a while.The real striking thing was Duglimar’s matter of fact attitude toward something that would horrify a non-Venezuelan. In the words of Chris Rock, “I’m not saying I agree with it…but I understand.”

 It’s difficult for the Venezuelans to get upset about anything in particular when they are constantly bombarded from all sides in every area of their lives.They are too busy trying to survive to worry about something they perceive as beyond their control.

 So what happened to Venezuela’s hospitals? After my conversation with Duglimar I knew I had to do some research.I went back to the beginning of Chavismo to try to get some kind of understanding.

 More tomorrow….

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