Party Time

 We’ll be going Down The Rabbit Hole in a minute but first we have a very telling story of life in Venezuela today.As we’ve covered before, 95% of Venezuelans live in poverty with 70% subjected to extreme poverty. That back drop make this display even more “distasteful”, to be kind.Digital Journal reports Venezuela’s attorney general is investigating a party thrown on Kusari Tepuy by a company hired by the government to promote tourism. Tepui’s are tabletop mesas found in the Canaima National Park and are protected land sacred to the Pemon indigenous people. These mini ecosystems are environmentally fragile and were the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”. It is one of the most remarkable places on earth and should be treated with care and respect. The party revelers were ferried to the remote location by helicopter after clearing the landing site and party area putting the area at risk not to mention being an outrageously ostentatious display of disdain for the plight of “the other” 95%. My personal favorite reaction to this was a Tweet by Hugo Chavez’s daughter, “Canaima” followed by a sad face emoji. Does she even know that her father formed the “Mining Arc” responsible for the majority of the environmental damage to the region and probably where a good deal of her $4 billion came from?

 In a perfect counterpoint to “Party Time” we have this from Merco Press. Venezuelan pensioners staged an SOS march in Caracas to protest their monthly stipend of the minimum wage, currently less than $2 A MONTH! You don’t hear much about it but according to Article 91 of the Venezuela Constitution (rewritten by Hugo Chavez) the minimum wage must equal the cost of the ‘basic food basket’ which currently stands at about $700 a month. Quite a disparity huh? The protest wasn’t just for wages but also for the lack of healthcare (despite the Chavistas constantly telling us about the great healthcare provided by the glorious “Bolivarian Revolution”). There is no medicine and no treatments like radiotherapy. In the words of a protest spokesperson, “If we are going to die of hunger in our homes we are going to die in the streets fighting for our rights.” You won’t see this reported on the self proclaimed ‘independent media outlet’ Telesur.

 Telesur does tell us that the Venezuela FANB (Army) continues it’s fight against “Colombian paramilitaries” in the border regions. “We will expel TANCO narco-terrorists from Venezuela”. No mention of the ELN and FARC dissidents operating with impunity tied to Chavismo and their drug trafficking operations.

 Telesur also covered the Venezuela Attorney General saying “Officials corrupted by Colombian drug money have been arrested.” And as evidence of government control he went on…”The Koki gang was completely dismantled.” No mention that the government did nothing for years as the Koki gang expanded and prospered and didn’t act until the gang’s sphere of influence included the neighborhood surrounding el Heliocide, headquarters of SEBIN (one of Maduro’s ‘not so secret’ police units) and other groups as well as it’s detainment (torture?) facility.

 Telesur also covered Maduro telling us that there is a paramilitary base in Venezuela funded by Duque (President of Colombia). Maduro went on to stress that the criminals killed and captured recently were “financed,trained, and directed by Ivan Duque.” No mention that the people responsible for security in the border areas are Venezuelan Military officers.

 Telesur also covered Defense Minister Padrino Lopez telling us that ” Venezuela is the victim…Colombia is a narco state.”

In actual news we have Caracas Chronicles reporting that the president of the Real Estate Chamber in Venezuela says it’s been 10 years since the last major construction site in Venezuela.

 And the Daily Herald covered Juan Guaido’s effort to form a “big tent” political opposition party, meeting with opposition figures and Chavista dissidents. He reminds us that with the government in total control of the media it like doing politics a hundred years ago, door to door,house to house. We mentioned this previously but it bears repeating as it’s a huge uphill battle.

 Enough…let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 Venezuela has an abundance of arable land so it has always produced a sizeable quantity of fruits,vegetables, and grains as well as raising a lot of livestock. That is, until “The Revolution” came along.An easy target for him to please his cheering throngs was dormant farmland.Early on Chavez went after the farmers saying he was going to free the people from those greedy elitists.They had so much land they couldn’t even use it all.Uh, Hugo, have you ever heard of crop rotation so the soil can rejuvenate? I guess not.

 Anyway, he expropriated 3 and 1/2 million hectares (a hectare is about 2 and 1/2 acres) of farmland. He divided it into plots with some livestock for each and gave it (without title) to poor families from the barrios (mostly the slums of Caracas). Aside from the fact that my ancestral family were farmers, I think most people know it’s not an easy way to make a living. Families with generations of accumulated knowledge or corporate farms run by people with agricultural degrees have a rough go of it. What would be the chance of success if you took a family from the South Bronx and dropped them in Nebraska saying “OK, here’s your farm. Good luck!”

 You can imagine what happened.35,000 out of 3 and 1/2 million hectares actually produced.Not exactly a testament to societal experimentation. Try getting a drug approved with a 1% success rate in clinical trials. I do have to tip my hat to the 1% that succeeded.Good on ya! You defied the odds!

 Another victim to Chavista scapegoating was the warehousing/distribution system. They took a big hit in 2014 and never recovered.The warehousing/distribution companies came under fire during the “Guarimba”, the protests spurred by the food shortages in 2014 caused by the ludicrous price controls. Maduro had to blame someone for the empty supermarket shelves so anyone with a warehouse was an easy target.Inspectors, backed up by the National Guard, would show up at a warehouse, seize whatever food was stored there, jail someone from management, and have it delivered to the supermarkets. “Hoarding by those greedy speculators” would not be tolerated by “The Revolution.”

 This pretty much killed the idea of an orderly flow of food to the supermarkets. Trucks would go directly from a processing facility to the supermarkets and unload whatever product they had for the waiting crowds. It was chaotic. Some locations got big deliveries while others got nothing. News of pending deliveries was leaked via social media and finding out what product was being delivered where, then going and waiting in line for it, became a full time job.

 When the Chavistas weren’t busy destroying farming,putting all the supporting companies, you know,everything from machinery parts for both the farmers and food processors to seed and fertilizer suppliers etc. out of business, and dismantling the warehousing/distribution network they directed their efforts to fraudulent schemes supposedly to help feed the people.

 More tomorrow….

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