Targets Of Opportunity

 We’ll be getting started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole chapter, “The Real War” in just a bit but first…Remember the story of Matthew Heath last week? Well, we have an article in the same vein this week from The Guardian. It details, in their words, “…systematic policy of repression…enemies real and imagined.” It’s another good example of the petty retribution of the Maduro regime in which they seize on targets of opportunity.

 An electrician and former soldier,along with his wife, were arrested in March,2019. They were released in October and subsequently rearrested on their way home. They are charged with the usual…terrorism,treason,etc. Police say they found drugs and drone parts in in the car which belonged to the wife. Now bear in mind that neither of them is very political,or an activist, or anything of that nature. However, the wife’s brother, currently in Miami, is accused by the regime, of financing an assault on a military base in 2017 and an assassination attempt on Nicolas Maduro by drone in 2018. It was particularly memorable for the scenes of all the members of the military that, upon hearing explosions, ran away from Maduro, rather than towards him to protect him, just a tad embarrassing for the “beloved president.”

 So now we have family members in jail,presumably, for the “crime” of having a family member that opposes the Maduro regime. This is SOP for the regime. It happens all the time when one of the members of Maduro’s three headed monster of ‘not so’ secret police execute a raid looking for someone that has run afoul of the Chavistas. If the person they are looking for isn’t there they arrest somebody… anybody…you know, a target of opportunity, that can be used as leverage against their real target. At least those that are arrested have a chance. Often when the ‘not so secret’ police are trying to make a point they will shoot a subject in the street or “disappear” them. That’s how it works in the land of the “glorious Bolivarian Revolution.”

 And we have news on the reorganization of the judicial system, note I didn’t say reform. The president of Maduro’s National Assembly Committee For Nominating Justices has submitted it’s preliminary report. There were many details put forward but here’s the short version. It will be a very convoluted process but it will be total Chavismo control at each step of the process and in the end nothing will change. It’s pure theater in light of the recent reports on Venezuela’s total lack of judicial independence and cries for reform.

 We also have some news on something we’ve been talking about for a while. It appears the residents of Chacao are becoming concerned with the environmental impact of deforestation in their community. This is going on all over Venezuela as people have resorted to wood fires for cooking as there is, and has been, a severe shortage of propane gas which is the common cooking method in many homes in Venezuela.

 Some good news on the airline front though. Portugal News reports Venezuela will restore air traffic between Portugal and Venezuela. This should make it easier for those trying to leave Venezuela for Portugal. Good for them. When my family and I fled the wonderful world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism for Colombia (before heading to the US) we had to go via Mexico which now would be considerably more difficult as Venezuelans can no longer travel to Mexico without a visa.

 And if you want to know who’s really in control in many parts of Venezuela check this out. Insight Crime reports that gang boss Wilexis has imposed a curfew for parts of Petare in Caracas. At least 11 people have been killed as the authorities search for him but efforts to apprehend (or kill) him are hampered by loyalty to the gang as they are known to pass out gifts as well as distribute food boxes for the CLAP government food program. (See, we told you that food program was corrupt.)

 And Law360 reports that a prominent Venezuelan businessman is appealing a $318 million judgement and seizure of property against him due to links to FARC. As we’ve said before, there are cases, appeals, etc. seemingly everywhere involving individuals, companies, and government entities from Venezuela.

 Then we have the Daily Herald telling us that opposition leader and interim President, Juan Guaido, is working to restore and reorganize the fractured opposition. He will meet this week with various opposition leaders and members of dissident Chavismo to try and form a “big tent” party. With the government in control of the media and dominating social media he faces a daunting task. ” Politics in Venezuela is like the rest of the world 100 years ago, door to door, house to house.”

 And we have Telesur (government media) keeping us up to date on the latest Corona Virus news. They report that Covid-19 cases are down in the Americas by 31% as reported by PAHO (Pan American Health Organization). No mention of the spike in cases in Venezuela and no mention that PAHO reports vaccination figures in Venezuela at about half the rate as reported by the government.

 On that note, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 7/ The Real War

 Almost from day one of Maduro’s tenure as president he has continually referred to “La Guerra Economica”, the economic war being waged against Venezuela. I would like to take this opportunity to express my bi-partisanship with the Chavistas. I totally agree that there has been an economic war being waged against Venezuela. Unfortunately, it’s the war Chavismo has been waging against the people of Venezuela.

 Many people like to give Hugo Chavez, more or less, a pass when it comes to the horrific situation in Venezuela. I am not one of them. Chavez planted the seeds of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism and was the beneficiary of historically high oil prices and unprecedented borrowing which enabled him to delay the consequences of his disastrous policies. Chew on this :

 There is no better means to control a population than food insecurity. It’s hard to focus on much of anything when you’re busy scrounging for something to eat or trying to scrape together a little money to buy some food. It’s certainly a challenge to find the energy to protest when you’re weak from missing meals so your children can eat. That is the situation in Venezuela and has been for years.

 Pre-Chavismo Venezuela produced 70% of it’s food and imported 30%. Over the years of “The Revolution” the 70/30 split reversed course to a 30/70 split and today produces very little. It was easy enough to see the signs of what was coming. I remember seeing a video of a Chavez rally at a square in Caracas. He pointed to a building and shouted to his supporters ” Who owns that building? We’re taking it for The Revolution!” Remember Margaret Thatcher saying that the problem with socialism is that sooner or later they run out of other people’s money? Chavez got it cranked up early taking from everyone to the cheers of his supporters.In the first 20 years of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism they reduced the number of private companies in Venezuela by 80%. Now, of course, all those were not food related but many of them were.And one area he went after was all food related, agriculture. Those cheering crowds would soon disappear…along with their food.

 More tomorrow….

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