The Kids Are Alright
We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…Atlantic Council tells us that the World Justice Project – Rule of Law Index rates Venezuela last in the world. During the years of the Maduro regime the numbers of Venezuelans ages 15-29 not working or going to school are rising and now stand at 37%. The country is in a state of political apathy and who can blame them. After a couple of decades of being ground down by Chavismo and the opposition being unable to effect a regime change the people, those that haven’t fled the country, are simply worn out,exhausted by the daily struggle to survive. 27 and1/2 % say they have no preference between democracy and dictatorship. The approval ratings of Maduro and the opposition’s interim president,Juan Guaido, are about the same coming in at 16%.
With all the madness of the stolen governor’s race in the state of Barinas, won by opposition candidate,Freddy Superlano, then taken away by Chavismo followed up by the holidays there wasn’t much attention paid to the two day Summit For Democracy nor President Biden’s $424 million plan, “Presidential Initiative For Democratic Renewal.” He said this was the “Year Of Action.” If that is true then there is no better place to support a return to democracy, although it will be tough slogging, than Venezuela.
An entire generation of young people in Venezuela have grown up never knowing democracy, what it’s like to be free in your own country. A lot of them have joined the over six million Venezuelan migrants that have left the country to seek a future elsewhere since there are few opportunities in the land of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism…but not all of them. There some still there fighting the good fight and trying to return their country to democracy. Among them are Associacion Civil Juventud Insular,Voceros Insulares, Red Joven Venezuela, Crea Pais, and Confederacion de Estudiantes de Venezuela. The USAID (US International Development) has a “Powered by the People Initiative” and should, along with Biden’s (if he’s serious) “Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal” support these and other youth groups in Venezuela. Remember, it was in large part the young people that took to the streets and were killed by the Maduro regime in 2014 and 2017 while we were distracted by the Russians and North Koreans respectively.
I know up here right now it’s “all Covid-19 all the time” but if we’re serious about returning democracy to Venezuela it should come from within and it’s the young people that will do it. The kids are alright…we should stand by them. C’mon… we can walk and chew gum at the same time can’t we? With the sanctions continuing, the ICC (International Criminal Court) investigating the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and crimes against humanity,and Alex Saab, Maduro’s financial mastermind, coming to trial in the US, the time to up our game is now.
We’ll get to the other news tomorrow but for now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole …
Now comes the real killer.With all the oil money pouring in and all the billions borrowed by the Chavistas available they didn’t use any of that money to fund Barrio Adentro. Instead they diverted funds away from existing hospitals guaranteeing their deterioration.Since it happened over time nobody really cared. The sun was still shining. Why worry about an incubator that doesn’t work? We have lots of ’em. Just throw that one in a storeroom and we’ll fix it later.
As all this was happening there was another situation developing.Many of the Cuban doctors used the Barrio Adentro program as an escape mechanism. They came to Venezuela from Cuba where they earned very little and found that due to the terms agreed upon by the two governments they would earn even less. Can you say “indentured servitude”? Very quietly their ranks thinned (those without family members remaining in Cuba as de facto hostages) as they would visit other South American countries and simply not return.What’s the big deal? When there’s 25,000 of ’em who cares if a few go missing? The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.
THEN IT BEGAN TO RAIN
Shortly after the death of Hugo Chavez from cancer (it’s worth noting he chose to have his cancer treated in Cuba, not Venezuela) the price of oil fell off a cliff from over $100 a barrel to under $30 a barrel. When you receive 96-98% of your revenue from oil THAT’S A PROBLEM!
By this time even the extraordinarily constructed National oil company,PDVSA, (once the envy of the world) was falling victim to Chavista policies and production had fallen by over a million barrels a day.Again,when you receive almost all of your revenue from oil THAT’S A PROBLEM!
In the first year and a half of Maduro’s tenure the Chinese complied with his requests to borrow more money and loaned him another $10 billion. After 2015 they told him there would be no new money and all funds from Russia were arms and oil related.Since none of their other allies really had any money there would be no more borrowing. THAT’S A PROBLEM!
So now that it’s raining cats and dogs,you’re under funded and under staffed, what do you do? Simply, deny that there’s a problem and fire the Health Minister! They even had one Health Minister that only lasted a week because she was under the mistaken impression that she was actually supposed to do something! When she responded to the WHO’s (World Health Organization) request for a report on epidemiology she was immediately fired. The Chavistas had been denying the resurgence of all these previously eradicated diseases and she violated the ultimate edict of Chavismo, “Tell them nothing.”
You may be wondering how you can “Tell them nothing”, pretty much about anything,especially a question like “Where did all the money go?” It’s simple. Early on Chavez set up a government department called Fonden to distribute 60% of government spending. The first 40% was accountable to the National Assembly, Venezuela’s legislative body. Fonden was,and is, accountable to nobody except Chavez and now Maduro. Also, nobody is brave enough to ask a question like that but we’ll save that discussion for another time.
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