Just Let It Die!
We’ll get to our wrap-up of this week’s Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a bit but first …there were a couple of pieces that caught my eye because they referenced “El Petro”, Maduro’s utterly failed and utterly fraudulent cryptocurrency. We went into great detail about it in our Down The Rabbit Hole segment a while ago (let me know if you want to look it up) so I’ll spare you the particulars but let’s just say it was something Maduro dreamed up to try to make money out of nothing and it’s worth…well…nothing. It was called by one financial reporter “the most obviously horrible investment ever”. As the years pass I keep thinking it will just go away but Maduro is nothing if not persistent.
Bitcoinist reports “El Petro” is used in certain verified establishments to pay for gasoline and certain stores accept it. In my years in Venezuela I never used it nor knew anybody that did although when I was leaving the country I saw it referenced in the airport parking area. The parking rate was listed as 0. something,something Petros. When I asked the attendant about it he said “just give me a dollar.” It is also used on a limited basis to pay for airline tickets and to pay taxes and passport processing. It’s basically wherever the government can cram it gown your throat in a vain attempt to give it relevance. As we’ve covered before, Venezuela is the number one country in Latin America for cryptocurrency adoption and I’m not talking “El Petro”. Bitcoin and the like are widely used as a store of value. To give you an idea, while nobody uses “El Petro” remittances sent home from abroad in cryptocurrency are up 900%.
There was also a piece in Caracas Chronicles that seemed fitting regarding the use of “El Petro”. A deputy (representative) from Maduro’s National Assembly clarified the use of the Petro as far as it pertains to the minimum wage. If you remember, when it was announced it was equated to 1/2 a Petro, although it would be paid in bolivares (local currency). FYI, the new minimum wage, an 18 fold increase, still isn’t in effect. The deputy wanted to clarify that although the Petro was used as a form of reference, if the exchange rate, bolivares to Petros, increases the minimum wage will not increase. So, whats the point of having the Petro referenced in the first place? They just won’t let it die!
Then we have Insight Crime reporting that since government authorities killed gang leader, El Koki, they have been unable to find the number two man on the most wanted list, Conejo, It means “Rabbit” in case you were wondering. And why is that? Well, it seems he has a foundation that delivers CLAP food boxes (isn’t that the government’s job?) and medicine as well as organizing community meals. Those people that are starving in the areas where the government is searching are not inclined to give up their meal ticket.
And speaking of criminals, Merco Press reports that Argentina has issued an arrest warrant for Diosdado Cabello, the second most powerful man (some say the most powerful man) in Venezuela. It’s widely known, and just as widely denied, that Cabello oversees the “Cartel of the Suns” drug trafficking network. The arrest warrant in Argentina is a preventive detention measure allowing them to arrest Cabello, should he set foot in Argentina, and hold him for extradition to the US where he is wanted for drug trafficking charges.
And here’s something that unfortunately is under-reported, except by us. Provea reports that there were 1,414 extrajudicial killings in Venezuela in 2021. It never ceases to amaze me that all the Chavista supporters love to talk about the Pinochet regime in Chile a few decades ago. His right wing (note: the use of the term right wing) death squads were responsible for over 3,000 killings. Some say the number could be as high as 7,000 over the course of his 17 years in power. Remember that … over 17 years. The Maduro regime killed 1,414 in a year, which is about their average, so how many people has the Maduro regime killed since he came to power in 2013? It’s worth noting the government doesn’t investigate,except in rare cases, alleged extrajudicial executions.
And then we have deputy Jose Carrera from Maduro’s National Assembly, assuring that only elected leaders can represent the country in dialogue between the regime and the opposition.So then, why is Alex Saab, Maduro’s architect for his fraudulent financial schemes and currently awaiting trial in the US on money laundering charges, constantly referred to as a member of the negotiating team for the regime in their talks with the opposition?
And while we’re at it, FX Empire reports the President of Maduro’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, says the government wants representatives from political and business groups and unions to join in negotiations alongside opposition politicians.So, one National Assembly guy says “only elected representatives” while the other National Assembly guy says “we want everybody”. Which is it? FYI, the opposition says they will appoint their own delegates, “thank you very much”.
And in some positive news (we’ll take it wherever we can get it) Venezuela exports to the US were up 80% in 2021 over 2020!
Then we have the Industry,Services,and Commerce Chamber asking the Maduro regime to reconsider the foreign currency (and cryptocurrency) tax. They contend it will block the recovery and economic stability after over four years of hyperinflation and eight years of recession. Good luck with that! With 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism it’s always one step forward and two steps back. They never saw a positive trend they couldn’t kill.
And to reinforce a point made weeks ago, an Olympic medalist was attacked in a restaurant over the weekend. After the story went viral on social media Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has ordered an investigation. Remember the family member of a deceased victim saying the government only investigates crimes after there is pressure on social media?
Then we have Caracas Chronicles reporting that as the Venezuela migrant crisis continues (over 6 million and counting) Venezuelan migrants have fewer and fewer options as more countries require visas. They used to just migrate to nearby Latin American countries but now many are heading North to the US although Mexico now requires a visa for Venezuelans. There used to be hardly any Venezuelans trying to cross the US Southern border. In 2021 there were 50,499 Venezuelans detained there.
Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….
The opposition refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election process for the ANC,as they should have,so the ANC was created almost exclusively Chavista. Now you had an assembly controlled by the opposition that was duly elected by the people but couldn’t actually pass laws (although they continued to do so). You had a parallel assembly controlled by the Chavistas that was fraudulently created so according to the constitution they were powerless but Maduro,the TSJ, and the Electoral Council all recognized them as the legitimate lawmaking body for the country and besides they were going to rewrite the constitution anyway.
The ANC, almost immediately, passed an anti-hate law and created a Commission of Truth, Justice, and Peace to investigate violations of said law. The law and the commission were about as believable as “The Peoples Democratic Republic of…”. The United Nations never recognized the ANC and declared that the Commission of Truth, Justice, and Peace didn’t meet the basic requirements of transparency and impartiality to conduct investigations.Oh, did I mention that the election of the ANC was boycotted by 70% of the electorate? Oh yeah…and FYI.. two years after it was created for the express purpose of rewriting the constitution nobody was talking about rewriting the constitution…and they never did.
Summary : While it is evident that Hugo Chavez had Venezuela’s democracy and economy headed for a cliff it was Nicolas Maduro that stepped on the gas and sent their democracy and economy hurtling into the abyss. Why is it that those who say they’re protecting “the people” and “democracy” show the most blatant disregard for both?
History is a series of conflicts and tipping points. If you want to find the tipping point for Venezuela’s transition from democracy to dictatorship you need look no further than the day the Chavistas had the key MPs for an opposition super majority in the National Assembly disqualified. From that point on an emboldened Maduro, backed by the TSJ, demonstrated blatant disregard for the constitution and for the well-being of the Venezuelan people. There have been contributing factors here and there but that was the day democracy died in Venezuela.
That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with more news and our next segment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole, “The Supremes”.
Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!!
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