Long And Winding Road
Since we’ve wrapped up this week’s chapter of Down The Rabbit Hole we’re just doing news today so let’s get to it. Caracas Chronicles had a good piece on something to think about for the next presidential election in Venezuela. I know, it’s a long and winding road to the 2024 election versus Nicolas Maduro but for this guy it’s already been a long and winding road. We’re talking about Manuel Rosales.
When people talk about someone to unite the fractured opposition they usually talk about Juan Guaido,the interim president recognized by 60 countries, who’s popularity has waned as time has passed and he’s been unable to unseat Maduro. They also mention Henrique Capriles, former presidential candidate but, at this point unable to run as he’s been barred from electoral participation by the CNE (electoral council). But what about Manuel Rosales? He’s a seasoned veteran of Venezuela politics and has the opportunity to position himself for a run for president in 2024.
In 1999, when Chavez was new to power, Rosales founded political party Un Nuevo Tiempo, a center left party,as many are in Venezuela. He had enough popularity with the opposition to get the nod and run against Chavez in 2006, a difficult task as things had yet to fall apart for Chavismo and Chavez was firmly entrenched. Chavez must have seen a threat in there somewhere even after defeating Rosales in 2006. In 2009 Chavez ordered him imprisoned on corruption charges and he was forced to flee the country.
Rasales has always enjoyed considerable popularity in Zulia, Venezuela’s second most populated state. Just like most places in Venezuela, Zulia residents are frequently without power and struggle to find water and cooking gas as well as the pervasive food and medicine shortages. Rosales ran for governor in the November elections and was one of the four opposition candidates to pull off a win versus PSUV, the Chavista’s party. But the victory is not all upside for Rosales.
When Rosales returned to Venezuela in 2015 after six years in exile he was promptly thrown in jail by Maduro. After spending a year in the slammer he was released without explanation. The speculation was he made a deal with the Chavistas in return for supporting Henri Falcon, who the Chavistas were pushing as an opposition candidate against Maduro in the upcoming elections.Yes, these were the controversial 2018 elections which showcased the Chavista strategy of disqualifying all legitimate opposition and putting forward a candidate that was OPPINO, opposition in name only. Well, Falcon was the candidate in 2018 and subsequently lost even though Maduro’s popularity was, as it is now, in the 13% – 15% approval category. Now we have Rosales winning the recent gubernatorial race in Zulia and landing the governor’s job in the second most populated state…hmmm… but did he make a deal and this was his payoff? Who knows?
Here’s what we do know. Rosales has the opportunity to benefit if things can even marginally improve for the people of Zulia and he,as governor, could claim credit for a rebound but there’s a flaw in that scenario. When Rosales enjoyed success as governor previously there was no “protector of the people.” Remember, the position Maduro unconstitutionally created in any state with an opposition governor to usurp the governor’s power. Would credit for any advances in conditions for the people of Zulia be given to Rosales or would it be taken by “the protector”? If Rosales can convince the people of his competency he might be able to put himself back on the national stage and along with Chavismo’s stunning defeat in the Barinas governor’s race (Barinas being the home of Chavismo) the opposition could actually be viable versus Maduro in 2024. We’ll see…
P.S. Don’t forget about my personal opposition favorite, Maria Corina Machado.
And let’s not forget about those invasion plans coming out of Argentina. Telesur (government media) reports Maduro is calling for an investigation. How’s that for breaking news?
Then we have Scrap Monster reporting that the Venezuela Central Bank now puts the country’s gold reserves at $4.56 billion, down $493 million in 2021 and at a 50 year low. Quite a fall from the over $32 billion they had when Chavez repatriated the gold from banks around the world back home to Caracas so the Chavistas could protect “the people’s gold.” So, where did it all go?
And we have the US Department of State reporting on it’s meeting of February 15th with 19 other countries as well as the EU regarding Venezuela. Everyone was in agreement that there is a need in Venezuela for the following:
Free and fair presidential elections in 2024 (Great! That’s in two and a half years..)
Release of all political prisoners
Reestablishment of an independent judiciary
An end of repression of political parties and individuals
An independent electoral authority
Full and equal participation of women in all areas, social, political,and economic
Freedom of expression ie; end repression of journalists and media
End Human Rights violations
Return to negotiations with the opposition to address the humanitarian situation
So, in short, they’re telling us that the Maduro regime needs to stop doing everything Chavismo has done for over two decades making it the most destructive force in the history of Venezuela and allow the people to be free. Did we really need a big meeting with all those representatives from all those countries to tell us that?
And after a brief absence,Alex Saab is back in the news. Daily Mail (and pretty much everybody else) reports that Saab,the corrupt businessman and centerpiece of Maduro’s fraudulent financial schemes, signed up as a DEA informant in 2018 according to court records.In May,2019 the US government severed ties with Saab due to a missed deadline to surrender to US authorities. He first met with the DEA and FBI in 2016 with subsequent meetings until signing up with the DEA in 2018. Oh, and Saab’s lawyers still contend that the proceedings against him are a threat to the safety of his family, still in Venezuela, even though his wife says she has not been threatened by anyone. If Saab is truly a Venezuelan diplomat, as the Chavistas claim, and a legitimate businessman then what is there to be concerned about?
Well, that will do it for this week at TFT. We’ll be back Monday with more news and to get started on another chapter from Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole, “Free Gas”.
Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!
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