Pot And Kettle

 We’ll get to Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first we have Telesur (government media) proving once again that they never disappoint. They had a great “pot calling the kettle black” piece courtesy of the President of Maduro’s National Assembly. Jorge Rodriguez says that the head of the last duly elected National Assembly (2015) and interim President, Juan Guaido, is linked to drug trafficking and terrorist groups. On the drug side he referenced an October,2015 sentence by the TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) vs Biaggio Benito and their extradition request. Juan Guaido allegedly knew him. The ‘terrorist’ group referenced is opposition political party Voluntad Popular, founded by Guaido’s mentor, Leopoldo Lopez. Any group that espouses views contrary to Chavismo must be a terrorist group,right?

 Now, compare that to the Chavistas. Maduro,Diosdado Cabello (2nd most powerful man in Venezuela), Tareck Ei Aissami (oil/economic minister), and others are all wanted in the US on drug charges. As far as terrorist associations go, it’s widely known that Hezbollah operates a training camp on Margarita Island and has a significant presence elsewhere in Venezuela. For those who don’t know, Hezbollah are real terrorists.

 Rodriguez was speaking about the possibility of Guaido participating in the potential dialogue between the Maduro regime and the opposition. He stated simply, “We do not meet with drug traffickers.”

 And in the “competing versions” category we have this from VOA. Regarding the UN – FFM (Fact Finding Mission) they reported it’s findings that the Venezuelan government has failed to honor it’s pledge to reform it’s judicial system and end impunity for perpetrators of Human Rights violations (offering up only a few low-ranking scapegoats). Venezuela’s Ambassador to the UN responded by saying the report is a fabrication (everything that tells the truth about Chavismo is a fabrication) to undermine the Venezuela government’s sovereignty and self-determination (the same justification Russia is using for invading Ukraine). “Venezuelans enjoy all Human Rights and democratic freedoms.” (Who ya’ gonna’ believe, me or your lying eyes?)

 And also pertaining to Human Rights we have gov.UK giving us a statement from the UK Permanent Representative to the UN. He says that the Office of UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) needs unfettered access to all of Venezuela including the “Mining Arc” citing numerous instances of the violations of Human Rights against the indigenous people there as well as the environmental devastation.He also mentioned timely visa processing (remember, the EU electoral observation mission was forced to leave the country due to lack of response from the government to extend their visas) as well as all the usual references to political prisoners etc.

 Then we have Telesur reporting one of those possible “shape of things to come” stories. They tell us that Argentina social movements are calling for Argentina to reject the IMF (International Monetary Fund) Extended Fund Facility of $44 billion. They say it will hurt the government’s ability to curb inflation (?) among other things. “The debt will have to be paid by the political class that negotiated it and the business class that used it.” It’s always the same… when it’s time to pay debts it’s always someone else’s fault or responsibility.

 And we have Insight Crime telling us that prison extortion exacerbates Venezuela’s judicial backlog. If prisoner’s families don’t pay there’s no ride to court hearings etc. and hearings have to be rescheduled. Over 70% of inmates in the prison system haven’t been convicted according to CIVILIS. Those convicted can wait up to three years in jail awaiting transport to prison. According to Una Ventana de Libertad over 75% of military holding centers report prisoners being extorted by officials.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that, unable to stop the $247 million judgement against them, PDVSA (government oil company) is still fighting to reduce the majority of the $3.3 million in legal fees they are required to pay.

 Law 360 also reports that PDVSA told the 2nd Circuit Court that it couldn’t present more evidence for it’s claim that sanctions prevented it from paying $40 million in debt because “seeking information in Venezuela is dangerous.” So let me see if I’ve got this right…PDVSA is government owned so Venezuela is too dangerous for the government?

 And in a background piece, Oilprice.com tells us that Chevron is assembling a trading team for Venezuela oil in anticipation of a possible deal.

 And it looks like they’re at it again. We’ve previously told you that ever since the major week-long (or more) blackout a couple of years ago, the electric grid is so degraded there are few prospects for improvement in the system (without major investment). Well, Corpolec (government owned utility) is severely rationing again with many areas reporting up to 15 hours without power. I guess that’s better than a week so things are looking up.

 Now let’s get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment …

 Chapter 12/ The Supremes

 The basic structure of Venezuela’s government was set up by The Great Liberator, Simon Bolivar,to resemble,to a degree,that of The United States Of America. What we see in Venezuela today resembles the government of the USA in name only ie; Executive,Legislative,and Judicial branches.We already know that the Executive branch no longer has presidential powers,it’s a dictatorship.We just discussed the lunacy of the Legislative branch, a legitimate assembly that can’t pass laws and an illegitimate assembly that does.That leaves us with the Judicial branch, Venezuela’s Supreme Court, or TSJ.

 I hardly know where to begin, it’s so crazy, but I’ll give it a shot. Venezuela’s TSJ sees a lot more cases than the US Supreme Court. I don’t know what it was like back in the day but in recent times the court reviews thousands of petitions/cases a year so just based on the math it can’t take too long to reach a decision (unless it’s contrary to the Chavista’s wishes in which case it may never be heard).

 The TSJ gives new meaning to the term “Judicial Activism”. It’s worth noting that compared to the Maduro years the Chavez years were relatively tame but this is by comparison only. First things first, Chavez changed the name from “The Supreme Court” to “The Supreme Tribunal of Justice”. It’s a small thing but rebranding is generally a sign of changes to come.Under Chavez the Chavista- controlled National Assembly added 9 permanent judges and 32 stand-ins in 2010.Overall, during Chavez’s term 12 judges were added to the TSJ increasing the number of permanent judges from 20 to 32. Needless to say all added judges and all replaced judges were pro- Chavista and their primary focus was always directly tied to Chavez’s wishes dismissing everything else. A good example of this ‘protectionism’ was in 2008 when the OAS (Organization of American States) court (Venezuela was still a member of the OAS at the time) ordered a judge reinstated stemming from an appealed firing in 2003. It simply never happened.

 More tomorrow….

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