Not Too Smart

 We’ll get started with our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “The Supremes” tomorrow but first we have some catching up to do. Telesur (government media) had a piece which may give us some insight into the future as far as Venezuela is concerned. Before we get to the gist of the article let me begin by saying something I’ve alluded to in the past.I have my reservations about the effectiveness of these big international organizations like the UN (United Nations) and the ICC (International Criminal Court). They have pretty good sized budgets, $3 billion for the UN, and $140 million for the ICC. Some times it seems we don’t get much bang for the buck. They often seem to just be having meetings about the next meetings. Then when the time comes to do something they can be quite ineffective. Case in point the Telesur article.

 Telesur reports that the ICC ruled Russia must immediately suspend it’s military operations (war) in Ukraine. Russia contends that ICC compliance requires consent of the parties involved (not the first time we’ve heard this) and, of course, Russia did not consent. So, what does this mean going forward? What does this mean for the ICC investigation into the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity? Can they play the same card the Russians did?

 In a word, NO! This is where we have more proof that the Chavistas simply aren’t too smart. Unlike Putin, who never cared about international opinion, Maduro was in a period of international outreach last fall. In an effort to convince some of the players on the international stage that the regime had changed it’s ways Maduro invited the EU to send an electoral observation mission for the upcoming November elections. At the same time, the new head of the ICC, Karim Khan, paid a visit to Caracas. His predecessor had been covering for Maduro for years and actually sat on a report for months recommending that the ICC open an official investigation into the aforementioned crimes. Perhaps Maduro thought, as many speculated, that the new head of the ICC would follow the same path and do something like open another investigation into whether there should be an “official investigation”. Maduro consented to cooperate with the ICC and they have opened an official investigation. Now Maduro has said the regime will fully cooperate, possibly thinking they can pull their old “smoke and mirrors” routine that has served them well with many apologists in the international community, among them Khan’s predecessor. Preliminary indications are that Khan is serious and, if so, it could spell trouble for the Maduro regime although these things move slowly. If Maduro was more like Putin he never would have consented to anything…not too smart.

 And speaking of international organizations, the UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) Michele Bachelet,stated that the Maduro regime has made “some steps in the right direction’ and approves of ‘alleged reforms’ and the agreement between Venezuela and the ICC. What does this mean? At this point, not a whole lot however, Bachelet’s office is already over two years in and has issued a couple of scathing reports on Human Rights violations by the Maduro regime and a total lack of judicial independence. These reports may help the ICC in it’s investigation going forward.

 I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Michele Bachelet has called for lifting of unilateral sanctions against Venezuela saying they negatively impact the Venezuelan people. We have shown here time and time again that in order to believe lifting sanctions will help the people of Venezuela you would have to believe the Maduro regime would use any increased revenue from sanctions relief to help the people and they have proven many times they will not do so. Chavismo is only concerned with Chavismo.

 Also on the UN front we have Human Rights Watch recommending that the UN Human Rights Council scale up the pressure to enact reforms citing everything in the UNHCHR – FFM (Fact Finding Mission) report. In typical UN fashion, all this will be repeated again and again, over years and years and it remains to be seen if anyone other that a few low ranking scapegoats will ever be held accountable. In short, the article is calling for the Maduro regime to do the exact opposite of everything Chavismo has done and is doing to the people of Venezuela. Every aspect of life and society has been destroyed by 12st Century Bolivarian Socialism so forgive me if I’m skeptical about the possibility for reform.

 Moving on…Stripes reports that a Federal Judge in NY has ruled that the case against former Venezuela General, Cliver Alcala, on drug trafficking charges can  proceed. He has been indicted along with Maduro and others.

 And in a related article, Epoch Times reports that a US judge has denied a motion from the defense for former general,Cliver Alcala, for CIA records. Before his extradition Alcala appeared to be cooperative but now his defense seems to be back pedaling a bit. Maybe he couldn’t get as good a deal as he thought?

 And in the “total waste of time” category we had an Op Ed in Bloomberg titled “Engaging Venezuela Is Worth The Gamble”. I’ll make this quick… there were many wrong suppositions here ie; Venezuela increasing oil production to 1 and 1/2 million bpd (barrels per day) this year (No) and the US being able to drive a wedge between Russia and Venezuela (No). Nothing new here.

 And speaking of oil production we have Epoch Times reporting that Venezuela’s Foreign Minister says Venezuela will increase oil production  to 2 million bpd with “reliable partners” like China,Iran,and Russia… there’s always room to expand.

 And before we move off of oil news we have Crisis Group telling us there is a margin for Chevron to increase production in Venezuela by 120,000 bpd almost immediately and by 240,000 bpd within 3 months. They say they could do it with special oil licenses and without sanctions removal. Would Maduro allow it without sanctions removal?

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles reporting that Maduro has announced the Venezuela food situation is stable thanks to Chavismo and CLAP (government food program). Stable…yes…at starvation level (not mentioned)…yes! He went on to say that public and private banks must speed up the process to finance CLAP projects and they need to create a new fund supervised by Chavismo and VP Delcy Rodriguez. I guess we need a new mechanism for fraud and corruption.

 Then we have TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) suspending the Odebrecht hearings … again. With the seemingly indefinite suspensions we may never know how much money was stolen from the Venezuela people by the collusion between the corrupt construction company and the corrupt Chavistas. They’ve already found Odebrecht responsible for billions in missing funds in other countries.

 And then we have PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) saying Venezuela isn’t paying it’s debt. The Maduro regime is still receiving vaccine shipments from PAHO through the COVAX system…they just aren’t paying for them. I’m sure we’ll hear soon that they can’t pay for them due to sanctions.

 And we have Maduro also announcing the regime is creating a new social media platform. they’ve tried this before and it didn’t work.

 I almost missed these two pieces of oil news…at the end of February the Venezuela oil barrel price was $71 a barrel. This is just an FYI…Venezuela crude prices are generally at least $20 lower than the OPEC basket price. We also have Ecoanalytica telling us that if Venezuela can maintain a production level of 650,000 bpd it should generate revenue of $22 billion. If so, I wonder how much of that will be used to help the Venezuelan people.

 More tomorrow….

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