What A Great Idea

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…could you detect the sarcasm in “What A Great Idea”? I have to  rank this one right up there with the Defund The Police movement in the US. It never ceases to amaze me the crazy ideas people will buy into. I think of it every time I hear terms like “re-imagine” as in re-imagine policing. Get rid of the police and replace them with a group that is more socially conscious…more “in touch” with modern society. Some people just have to learn the hard way. Like all those communities in the US suffering spiking crime after defunding the police. In San Francisco the mayor just had to authorize over $20 million for police overtime pay after “redirecting” funding away from the police to appease the Defund The Police Crowd. I lost count of how many interviews I saw from people in poor neighborhoods that wanted more police to protect them from criminals. It’s always the poor that pay the price for these social experiments.

 So what does that have to do with Venezuela? Well, Insight Crime had an interesting piece titled “Why Did Venezuela’s Peace Zones Backfire So Badly?” They explain that the idea of “Peace Zones” was designed in 2013 as a response to rising homicides and violent crimes. The thinking was that policing and aid in these violent neighborhoods should be turned over to the gangs, who were pretty much running things already in league with corrupt police. They already had partial control so why not give them total control?

 What A Great Idea! In the more violent,poorer neighborhoods all over Venezuela the police withdrew and ceded control to the gangs thus establishing these “Peace Zones”. So, how’d that work out? Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! In these areas criminal governance increased as well as their dominance over the population. Gang recruitment went up as did gang profits. The areas around the “Peace Zones” were also impacted as criminals could commit crimes outside the zone then when chased flee back inside “the friendly confines” where the police weren’t supposed to go. If police did enter the zone they would be called back by their superiors.

 Adding insult to injury, in many areas the government also ceded control over the distribution of the government’s CLAP food program. So now the people of these neighborhoods were not just subject to the political extortion of the Chavistas but the criminal extortion of the gangs. In case you were wondering, homicide and violent crime rates didn’t go down.

 As you might expect, the gang influence and the physical territory of their fiefdoms grew until it came to a head in 2021. The criminal enterprise of “El Koki” was allowed to expand until it encompassed El Heliocide, the headquarters of SEBIN, part of Maduro’s three-headed monster of secret (or not so secret) police and other groups.The government finally had to do something and a violent shootout occurred on Cota 905 with the government regaining control.

 While the program has officially ended the gangs all over Venezuela that were the beneficiaries of the “Peace Zones” continue to prosper. In some areas they even control streets, and in some cases highways, giving them a de facto toll system. The only noticeable difference these days,other than that the gangs are even bigger and more prosperous, is that the distribution of the CLAP food program was turned over to the military as it’s becoming harder and harder for Maduro to find ways to reward their loyalty.So, there you have it. What A Great Idea!

 And then we have this from Telesur…VP Delcy Rodriguez was making her presentation to the UN Human Rights Council (remember the UPR, Universal Periodic Review?). She informed the council that ” Human Rights should not be a political tool…Sanctions are ‘humanitarian interventionism’…and the priorities of the Maduro administration (regime) are housing, education,and healthcare.” I think it’s time for the “BS Translator”…OK, so we didn’t implement your Human Rights recommendations from 2011,nor the ones from 2016….nor the ones from the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights…uhh…and yes, we are currently under investigation by the ICC (International Criminal Court) for Human Rights violations and crimes against humanity…but it’s not our fault…it’s those evil US sanctions that are to blame…we’re really the victims here.

 And Down The Rabbit Hole we go….

 Although in close proximity to the coast Caracas sits well above sea level (900 meters) requiring it’s water supply to be pumped uphill to a significantly higher altitude for much of the city. When the power went out the Tuy pumping system went down leaving millions without water.

 Common scenes included, and continue to include, people bathing in flooded potholes and collecting water from sewer drains that flow into the Guaire river. As bad as it is using water from these drains it gets worse when the drains dry up and the waste backs up adding to the already dangerous health situation. People everywhere can be seen carrying buckets,large water bottles, or whatever containers they have. Everyone is out looking for water or carrying it back if they are lucky enough to find it.

 Like many other things in Venezuela, the military has been tasked with water distribution. Those who can afford it pay $200 for a 5,000 liter water truck to fill their tank. If you don’t have the $200 (the monthly minimum wage is under 2 bucks) you are at the mercy of the military as to who receives the coveted deliveries. If you are a well connected, loyal Chavista you get priority. If not,well…

 The El Avila National Park is also a victim.It has become an ecological disaster as people use it’s mountain streams for bathing,laundry,and toilets.

 As if experiencing a fire wasn’t bad enough fire fighters can’t put out fires without water so many have to watch their hopes and dreams go up in flames when the damage could easily have been minimized with access to water.

 Years ago, with the water distribution system failing country-wide, the government said it was a priority to meet UN Millennium Developmental Goals so things weren’t good even under normal circumstances.The deadline was 2015 and the people are still waiting.In 2019 79% of the hospitals reported irregular water service. Now things are infinitely worse.The government water service, Hidrocapital, sometimes cuts water service in some areas for 48 hours.

 With the Tuy pumping system not able to come back completely online due to both operating energy concerns and possible grid collapse this isn’t going to be solved anytime soon. But not to worry folks! Maduro came up with the solution. The government will supply all the water needed utilizing delivery by tanker trucks.Aside from the fact that the government can’t even keep a fleet of buses running (only one out of ten currently in operation) tanker trucks “Ain’t gonna’ cut it”. If you do the math,in order to equal the output of the Tuy pumping system the government would need to deliver three tanker trucks every second! Caracas needs 20,000 liters of water per second. Before the blackout it was down to 13,000 liters per second and then went to zero. What it is today is anybody’s guess.

 Summary : Each year since Maduro took power he has proclaimed that the coming year would see the “Bolivarian Revolution’s” version of The Great Leap Forward and productivity and economic stability were on the way.Each year conditions worsen and, while lamenting that it’s the fault of the usual suspects,he’s assured the people that “The Revolution” would provide prosperity and security for all. The constant barrage of days furloughed and workdays shortened makes increasing productivity a bit difficult. The Chavistas don’t seem to connect the dots between work and productivity.There was plenty of advance warning on both the power and water situations.The government did nothing. Here we go again with our broken record. This situation was not caused by outside influences.It is not the result of war. It is not the result of a natural disaster.It is a man made disaster. A Chavista made disaster.

 That’ll do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with more news and our next chapter of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole … “Control Freaks”

 Have a great weekend everybody!!!!

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