We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec to finish up this week’s segment but first… Much like we did here in the US this week after Joe Biden’s State Of The Union speech the Venezuela opposition had a rebuttal given by deputy Miguel Pizarro after Nicolas Maduro’s speech given to the UN remotely. Maduro touted fake achievements on the pandemic, the CLAP food program, and education. “Maduro lied and played down the country’s reality.” At the same time there was a video that went viral that addressed that reality which was put out there by a man from Vargas. “We’re getting CLAP flour that not even dogs can eat.We have to throw it out…we’re starving with this bag. Make them better!” We covered many times that Maduro’s CLAP food program has been an absolute fraud and basically just served as a mechanism to enrich himself and provided the people with insufficient amounts of low quality or expired food at irregular intervals if they arrived at all due to the extortion of withholding the food boxes from those who didn’t tow the party line. The architect of the program for Maduro was Alex Saab, as revealed in the expose’ by Armando Info. (and don’t even get me started on education)

 And speaking of fraud, there’s plenty of it in Venezuela but here’s a new one to add to the list. Three fake dentists were arrested in Miranda…Fake dentists?

 We did a piece a few days ago about authorities killing FARC dissident leader “Arturo”. It turns out that he had Venezuelan IDs on him when he was killed.

 And CSTS had an interesting take on Ukraine’s stiff resistance and heroic efforts against the more powerful Russians. They say it may galvanize opposition movements in places like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. We can only hope.

 We’ve covered at length the problems Venezuela had dealing with the second longest bout of hyperinflation in history. Now  Havana Times is telling us that people are concerned with skyrocketing inflation in Cuba. They say that there have been many solutions published to resolve Cuba’s inflation issues and the government hasn’t listened to any of them…just like Venezuela whose eventual climb out of hyperinflation (barely…it’s at about 686% now, still the highest in the world) had nothing to do with the government doing anything.

 Then we had Daily Mail’s big headline, “Venezuela Opposition Faces Fading Enthusiasm.” DUH!

 And if it seems like we’re telling you about yet another court case every couple of days in which one party or another is seeking payment from Venezuela in one form or another it’s because they are ubiquitous, many of them stemming from the thousands of expropriations by Chavismo while others are simply for nonpayment of debt. Now we have Law360 telling us that a Delaware judge has ruled that Canadian mining company Crystallex can proceed with the procedure for sales of Citgo shares to collect the $1.2 billion it is owed.

 Then we have Digital Journal reporting on another of Maduro’s rants. “What they are doing against the Russian people is a crime, an economic war. ( Maduro has been talking about the ‘economic war’ being waged against The Bolivarian Revolution pretty much since he took power in 2013) What they are doing with Russia is madness…Economic wars must end…World peace must be preserved.” Uhh…OK … so he supports the unprovoked  Russian invasion of it’s sovereign neighbor Ukraine but he’s calling for peace?

 And we have Telesur (government media) with a little snippet from Maduro’s rant as well. “Venezuela will maintain trade at all levels with Russia…The economic war is the main war that imperialism (Maduro loves playing the ‘imperialism card) is waging against Russia to destroy it.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines imperialism as the extension or imposition of power, authoritarian influence. Uhh… so who is it that just invaded another country?

 And Guardian Media tells us that the Trinidad and Tobago Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister  says that Venezuela’s support of Russia is being discussed by the heads of government at Caricom, an organization of Caribbean Island nations.

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles reporting that Maduro and Putin discussed increasing the strategic partnership between their two countries. At the same time   Venezuela’s Foreign Minister was denouncing “NATO irresponsibility”.

 And in some potential good news the Maduro regime announced a $100 bonus (paid in bolivares) for workers of CORPOLEC (government electric utility), PDVSA (government oil company), and Defense Ministry. The reason we only say “potential good news” is that it was previously announced but later clarified that everyone wouldn’t get the same amount. It’s also worth remembering that last year we had PDVSA workers protesting for payment of money promised them by Chavez over a decade ago. Besides being years late Chavismo was playing the exchange rate game since, just like this announcement, the promised dollar amount was to be payed in bolivares which, after years of delays, was almost nothing. (A total of 14 zeros have been lopped off the currency under Chavez and Maduro)

 And in the “no surprise to anybody” category we have a study by a university in Germany listing 17 countries whose Corona Virus numbers were inconsistent with those reported by the rest of the world… and, of course, Venezuela was on the list.

 And Tal Cual tells us that they have the names of 8 Cuban tankers involved in twice a month visits to Venezuela to load oil and gas. This while the Venezuelan people wait in line for days to buy gasoline.

 And Reuters reports that in 2021 Venezuela shipped 53,300 bpd (barrels per day) of oil to Cuba. When you only produce an average of 600,000 bpd (or lower) that’s a pretty good chunk of your production to give away for free and remember China doesn’t pay for it’s oil either.

 And despite Chavismo’s happy talk about taking care of the indigenous peoples (We covered this lie in our El Dorado segment in this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole) Warao (indigenous) families in Puerto Ordaz say they don’t get regular delivery of their CLAP food boxes and lack running water (their water comes from a polluted river).

Oh, and the ICC (International Criminal Court) has announced it is opening an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Russia in it’s invasion of Ukraine. Since they are already investigating the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity Putin and Maduro are in good company.

 Now let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole….

 The escalation of malaria cases is also quite concerning. Malaria was completely eradicated in Venezuelan cities in 1961 and nationwide in 1980.There were 406,289 reported cases of malaria in Venezuela in 2017 and an estimated over 600,000 in 2018.Given the government’s unwillingness to release information most people believe these numbers to be low and there’s no telling what they are today.

 There is good news/bad news regarding the benefit of “The Mining Arc” for the government. The bad news is that there is more revenue in illegal gold than revenue that finds it’s way into government coffers so this won’t be the financial savior the government had hoped it would be. The good news is it does keep some members of the military happy. The trade is lucrative enough that top military officers need to be rotated so they can share in the reported $800,000 / month in bribes.

 Summary : Typical of any Chavismo project “The Mining Arc” has very little upside and a whole lotta’ downside. The government earns a few bucks although nowhere near what they need. All those international companies needed to make this a thriving enterprise will never materialize. Nobody wants to partner with the Chavistas and the military’s lack of desire to control the area will keep reputable companies from participating. By the numbers, in 2003 mining accounted for 0.79% of GDP. Since Chavismo made it a priority in 2016 mining now accounts for 0.28% of GDP.

 What is being done to the Pemon people and the environment are the real story of “The Mining Arc.” In the words of, at the time, VP Joe Biden, “This is a big fuckin’ deal.” Any gold sold by BCV, the Venezuela Central Bank, as well as any sold by Venezuela state-owned companies should be considered the same as “blood diamonds”. In the words of Def Leppard, “baby I’m not…fuh fuh fuh foolin’ “!!!

 That does it for this week. We’ll be back Monday with the next installment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole, “The Card” as well as more news from the world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism as the Venezuelan people continue to starve and die under the yoke of Chavismo,

 Until then….Have a great weekend everybody!!!!!!

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