Just Bluster...Or Not

 Before we go Down The Rabbit Hole we have this…Remember last week there were a bunch of reports that Russia was warning it could deploy it’s military to Cuba and Venezuela if there was no easing of tensions in Ukraine? This was dismissed as typical Putin bluster by most. Well, how about this…Epoch Times reports that an exiled Chavista general has disclosed the location of two Russian military bases that currently exist in Venezuela. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister would not confirm nor deny the existence of these bases but the Defense Minister for neighboring Colombia confirmed the presence of Russian forces in Venezuela on January 14th.

 What this actually means is anybody’s guess. The ties between the Russian military and the Maduro regime are no secret. There have been numerous reports that Venezuela will start production at an AK assault weapons facility later this year. Given Chavismo’s track record of failed joint ventures (they’ve basically screwed everybody) whether this really happens remains to be seen.However, it’s worth noting that Russia did deploy a few hundred troops (advisors?) to Venezuela through a private military contractor a year or two ago. They were eventually withdrawn for lack of payment. See what I mean about the Chavistas screwing basically everybody?

 Be that as it may, Russia’s threat of troop deployment in Venezuela may be a moot point…they may already be there.

 Before we move on let’s not forget Chavismo’s penchant for aligning itself with the worst the world has to offer. It’s no secret there is a Hezbollah training camp on Margarita Island as well as others in Venezuela and they’ve become closer and closer to Iran, the number one state sponsor of terrorism globally.And other friends, besides Cuba,of course, are China, North Korea, Turkey, Belarus… (did I forget Nicaragua?)

 From the US Department of State we have this reminder, US citizen, Matthew Heath, has been in jail in Venezuela for over 500 days.

 And Fars News (Iran) reports Maduro mocks “US puppet”, Juan Guaido, and calls for “justice”. Why is it that those who make a mockery of the word “justice” are always calling for justice? Venezuela ranks last in the world in judicial independence. And let us not forget, the head of the Supreme Court in Venezuela is a convicted murderer and at one time the TSJ (Supreme Court) had a perfect track record pertaining to petitions against Chavismo. Rulings in favor of Chavismo… 50,000 , more or less, and rulings against Chavismo…ZERO! I can’t remember who said it but it’s so true…There is no greater affront to a people than to put a criminal in charge of a country’s justice system.

 Here’s an interesting one…Portugal News reports that Venezuela has opened air travel to and from Spain…but not Portugal. Spain has joined the list of 8 countries now authorized to fly to Caracas. Portugal’s TAP requested two humanitarian flights from Caracas to assist those wishing to leave the “socialist paradise” To date, no response from the Maduro regime. And why the snub to Portugal?  Some might think it stems from a resentment still harbored by the regime regarding supplying ” pernil” (roast pork)to Venezuela for the holidays a couple of years ago. When Maduro found out that the company supplying the pernil had refused shipment without Venezuela paying upfront (remember, I told you the Chavistas have basically screwed everybody) he was outraged that the company wouldn’t extend credit to the Chavistas and demanded the government of Portugal do something. Well, the government of Portugal reminded Maduro that they couldn’t force a private company to extend credit…it was their choice. When it comes to being snubbed on the international stage the Chavistas have long memories.

 Now, Down The Rabbit Hole we go….

 That left CORPOLEC with the trial and error method, which led to the first blackout, and the second, and the third. If it wasn’t so dire a situation, the government’s response would be laughable. First it was a hack. Then it was “a high tech electromagnetic assault”, and then fires set by “saboteurs” (the usual suspects, right-wing paramilitaries,the CIA,etc,). Caracas Chronicles said it best in their mock headline,”There was another big electric failure in Lara and Yaracuy this week. No wild animal has been charged so far.”

 The government’s absurd explanations aside, a plan was needed going forward. An emergency 30 day rationing plan was put into effect, for the most part excluding the capitol of Caracas, an becoming more or less the new normal.Power rationing normally means four hour power cuts. For much of the country that formula was inverted and they only had power four hours a day. The government assured  everyone that normalcy would return soon. The spokesman for Sintraedelca, the electrical workers union, disagreed. Other than sticking to their “boogeyman” theme and increasing security to safeguard the public from further “attacks” (what we call power outages) there didn’t seem to be much of a plan other than to shorten the work day and send workers home at 2:00 PM. I guess normalcy is in the eye of the beholder as it is still rare for a day to go by without a power outage of some sort, pretty much everywhere.

 The Electric Ministry’s solution sounded more like an ideological talking point than a solution.”Electrical workers will participate in union-related courses with Cuban experts to form socio-political cadres.” Huh? And exactly how does that solve the problem? If a statement from the government’s budget back in 2013 is any indication things don’t look good. “All problems will be solved by 2032 incorporating the Popular Power … under socialist values.” So, how’s that working out so far?

 It’s also worth noting that 40% of CORPOLEC’s allocated power output is not charged to anyone.A major contributor to this problem is the Gran Mission Vivienda, Chavismo’s low cost housing project. These houses have no meters! Electricity prices are so low I didn’t pay more than a dollar a month in 12 years. Combine this with a government that is broke and has no available credit anywhere and I wouldn’t look for a revenue bump for CORPOLEC anytime soon.

 Diminished expectations are the order of the day. 45% of the country has frequent days without power and some areas continue to ask for power for at least a few hours per day. The metals processing sector won’t be returning to normal either. It relies on nodes which once they’re without power for a number of hours are effectively dead. And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse,the Tuy pumping system, which supplies water to a large portion of Caracas, would require a third of available power just to restart since the systems were so degraded. That lead us to the other part of the power crisis…the water crisis.

 There is a reason that beginning with the first civilizations in Mesopotamia, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, civilization has clustered around rivers and spread from there. Access to fresh water is essential to survival. Chavismo seems to have lost sight of this basic fact. In 1998, just before the election of Hugo Chavez, approximately 80% of Venezuelans had regular access to fresh water.Under Chavista stewardship that number dropped to under 30% in 2019 and what it is today is anybody’s guess.

 Under Chavismo issues with water are nothing new. In recent years there have been thousands of protests annually in various neighborhoods and communities for lack of water although it must be said it’s hard to distinguish them from the protests for lack of power. It’s common to encounter roads barricaded in protest, burning tires, etc. Typically the government sends in some water trucks and things calm down …until next time. Caracas is the perfect example of the problem.

 More tomorrow….

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