Boys Club

 The Chavistas never tire of telling us how much they support feminism. The VP of Venezuela is a woman. The wealthiest individual in the country (reportedly) is a woman. That would be Maria Gabriela Chavez Colmenares, the daughter of Hugo Chavez.( Don’t get me started on how she amassed a $4.2 billion fortune) But what about the average Venezuelan woman?

 Various feminist organizations protested in Caracas to demand security and justice for victims of gender violence.Several spokeswomen  echoed the same statement, that despite what Chavismo says there isn’t a single indicator that points to women being better off now than they were 23 years ago when Chavez took power.

 Women are definitely in the majority in Venezuela and seem,in many cases, to be the providers in their respective families. As I would drive through various towns when I lived there I couldn’t help but notice that there were always a lot more women than men waiting at the bus stops in the morning. I also couldn’t help noticing there were a lot more men sitting around on their stoops in small groups, many enjoying a beverage or two. So why then is it that the overwhelming majority of upper level positions, Delcy aside, are all held by men?

 There is one area where men still have the majority but women have not been completely forgotten. Foro Penal reports that there are currently 14 female political prisoners so at least women have the equal opportunity to be imprisoned.

 Moving on we have NGO Sin Mordaza reporting that 93% of Venezuelans say they can’t freely exercise the right of freedom of expression. They also tell us that in 2021 there were 42 incidents of retention and arbitrary detention of journalists and 87 threats or aggressive actions against them. There were 39 traditional news outlets shut down and 21 digital outlets blocked from the internet. Espacio Publico reports 31 violations of freedom of expression in February alone.

 Something that isn’t much discussed is the area of remittances. It’s how many families survive in Venezuela. Send a family member (or 2) abroad where they can earn real money and send it back home so their families can buy food to survive. Ecoanalitica reports that inflation is hurting remittances as much of the buying power of those abroad is reduced and they can’t afford to send as much to their families.

 How about a little US bashing? Global Times published an article by the Executive Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Law Center of CHINA UNIVERSITY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND LAW (need I say more?) saying that US coercion of Latin American countries over the Russia – Ukraine conflict (uhh.. that would be the Russian invasion) is only asking for a new cold war. Western media attempt to mislead public opinion…to slander Russia’s reasonable concerns … force some countries to take sides on the Ukraine issue. (It’s not an issue, it’s a war) Enough already! This is exactly the time to choose a side and only five countries voted at the UN to support Russia, none of them being Latin American countries. Are they really concerned with a new cold war or do they want tacit approval of Russia’s invasion so that China can have tacit approval when they invade Taiwan? Just saying…

 The Atlantic gave us a good look at a typical Chavista priority in their article “Venezuela’s Train To Nowhere”. The ‘Bolivarian Cable Train’ was supposed to be part of a grand interconnected transit plan. Millions and millions were spent but other than the ‘Bolivarian Cable Train’ project nothing else was ever built. The project consisted of 3 stations with 3/5 of a mile of track. It is connected to nothing and leads nowhere. It was purely a Chavez political stunt for support in Petare, the biggest slum in Caracas. Chavez said it best, “This is only possible with socialism!”

 And Twitchy says ” Just a complete circus.” Biden fights climate change by considering easing sanctions on Venezuela, not encouraging US production. Even if Venezuela could actually provide oil to the US, which these days they can’t, most of Venezuela’s reserves are extra heavy crude. How does that help the global carbon footprint?

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles telling us that on the heels of the US official’s visit to Caracas and the announcement the the dialogue with the opposition will resume, Maduro says “…national negotiation process, more inclusive,more welcoming.” We’ve heard this all before. The question is, is the Biden administration gullible enough to buy this BS ? The answer is yes, they are,and yes,it’s BS. Maduro has no oil to provide to the US but with a few cosmetic gestures showing his good faith he may get some sanctions relief.

 Then we have the Venezuela Observatory of Finance reporting that the basic food basket (enough to feed a family of five for a month) for February came in with a cost of 1,633 bolivares / $353. And Maduro just gave the people a huge minimum wage increase to $28 a month. Looks like it’s going to take a bit of budget stretching.

 And speaking of food, in 2021 Venezuela produced 800,000 tons of corn. Venezuela consumes 2 and 1/2 million tons of corn annually. So, the Venezuelans are starving. There’s no medicine and no reliable power and no reliable supply of fresh water. What exactly are the metrics to qualify as a failed state? I didn’t even get into the Human Rights violations and no rule of law.

 Then we have the National Journalists Guild telling us that CONATEL (government communications agency) ordered radio station Activa 89.3 FM in El Tigre closed and officers seized equipment and computers.

 And the president of CONINDUSTRIA basically thanked Maduro for the minimum wage increase (18 fold) but says it’s not enough (really? it’s a whole 28 bucks a month) and asks for a meeting to debate.

 And then there’s this…Since the big 5 day (or longer) blackout in 2019 there have been 442,850 blackouts.Hmmm…it does sound a bit high.

 Then we have the President of Guatemala assuring that 95% of the planes transporting drugs to Central America and Mexico are from Venezuela.

 And I’m not sure what this means but Maduro has ordered the return of toll stations that Chavez abolished in 2007.

 And in a sign things may be getting a little better, BNN Bloomberg tells us that thousands of Venezuelans are returning home as Maduro embraces capitalism. Well, the market is more free in Venezuela these days but it’s a long way from a free market.

 That does it for this week. We’ll be back Monday with more news and our next segment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole.

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

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