No Respect

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first, a little gender talk. We have talked before about the Chavistas claims of support for and carrying the banner of feminism. The party line aside, women’s rights have not improved under Chavismo. There have been and still are a number of protests about women’s inequality but so far in 2022 there has been little social media activity by civil society. The messages with Chavista propaganda outnumber real tweets by 10 – 1. Chavismo has the platform but what are they really doing?

 Our friends at Caracas Chronicles had a piece on this lip service. Gender equality in Venezuela is not progressing. Much was made of CNE’s (electoral council) 2015 requirement that 50% of candidates be women. While I’m typically not in favor of quotas something needed to be done to increase women’s representation so it reflected society as a whole which has more women than men. The question is, was it really a requirement or was it more a suggestion rather than a rule? Well… in the November,2021 elections 16% of the candidates were women. Any repercussions? No.

 In Venezuela 10 of the 33 Ministries are headed by women. In this bloated bureaucracy (there were 11 Ministries when Chavez was in power) surely there is more room for women in leadership positions. There are certainly more women leading in civil society but not in politics (this is true of both Chavismo and the opposition). Compare the 1/3 of Venezuela’s Ministries headed by women to Chile where 14 of 24 women are in charge of their Ministries. Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador all have about double the percentage of women in their respective National Assemblies compared to Venezuela under the self-proclaimed feminists, the Chavistas.

 My favorite opposition figure,and has been for years, since Leopoldo Lopez left the country, is Maria Corina Machado. She pretty much summed it up. “They lack meritocracy.The one who goes up the ranks is the one with the most contacts.”

 Oh, and remember the Chavistas telling us there should be broader representation at the proposed negotiations with the opposition? They would like to use the same strategy for the dialogue that they use in elections which is after disqualifying real opposition candidates they more or less compete with themselves. Well, opposition leader and interim President,Juan Guaido, just ruled out two people recommended by the regime for the negotiations. His spokesman reiterated that to be a part of the negotiation delegation representatives must be members of the opposition. Imagine that.

 And in a big announcement we have the Prosecutor General’s office telling us they have donated $1.8 million in seized supplies to military hospitals. No word on where or who the materials were seized from.

 And we also have Salvemos Venezuela protesting outside the CNE for free and fair elections…again.

 Then we have Maduro’s Tourism Minister telling us they are satisfied with being able to participate in Moscow’s International Tourism Fair. I’m sure people are flocking in from everywhere to be a part of that.

 And in case you forgot, BNN Bloomberg reminds us that the issues with the Venezuela government bonds still haven’t been resolved. Now it seems that the defaulted Venezuela bonds are luring buyers betting on a deal with the US.

 Then we have a disturbing piece from the Miami Herald. For decades Venezuela had the lowest suicide rate in the region. Now those numbers are way up. In the period between 2015 – 2018 the suicide rate was up 150%. They say the numbers could be higher now since many suicides are hidden in the category of violent, unexplained deaths which came in at about 4,100 for 2021.

 But on a more positive note (hopefully) we have USIP saying that the recent meeting in Caracas between senior officials of the Biden administration and Maduro (the first in decades with Chavismo) may be signalling something. It’s the first time both sides willingly acknowledge the other side has something they want.

 And speaking of a proposed deal between the US and Venezuela, Blaze News reports the Energy Minister for Alberta,Canada says “What! …We’re right next door.We’re here! …They should be looking at us as the solution to energy security.” Sounds like what we’re hearing from all the energy producing states in the US. Oh, and by the way, in Biden’s search for energy security he reached out to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Crowned Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Prime Minister of the UAE Federation won’t take his phone calls.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 When the TSJ was given it’s new name and new members it’s function was defined as “to control according to the constitution and related laws the constitutionality and legality of public acts.” Under Chavismo the lines between a legal entity and a political entity became blurred or non-existent even though they were the ones that defined the TSJ’s responsibilities.The TSJ regularly make recommendations to the CNE board (electoral council). In 2012 it ruled that the top opposition leader couldn’t run against Chavez. It categorized it’s decision as an administrative decision and not a political one, whatever that means.By the way, as much as the Chavistas loved maligning Leopoldo Lopez,the opposition leader, and constantly professing their adoration for the legacy of Simon Bolivar, The Great Liberator, it is Lopez, and not Chavez, who is a descendant of Simon Bolivar.

 Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 Although the TSJ made numerous questionable rulings during the Chavez years not much was said due to the overwhelming Chavista majority in the National Assembly. When Maduro took over the reins of Chavismo following the death of Chavez things would begin to change.There would be no more pretense or subterfuge. The gloves would come off.To understand the TSJ under Maduro it’s necessary to take a good look at the president of the court (similar to the Chief Justice in the US),Maikel Moreno.

 Moreno was convicted of murder in Bolivar state in 1987 while a member of DISIP, the Venezuelan Political Police.It’s not clear if he ever actually served jail time. In 1989 he was involved in the murder of Ruben Gil Martinez in Caracas and has also been linked to the death of attorney Danilo Anderson.

 In 2004, in a recorded conversation, he pressured Caracas judge, Luis Melendez, to release Saul Cordero, being held on arms and drug trafficking charges.Cordero was never officially charged, was released, and was later named Police Chief of the municipality of Caroni by the pro-Chavista mayor.He also worked in the early Chavez years as both attorney and judge on the same case with two different suspects. I guess when you are ethically bankrupt you can’t have a conflict of interest.

 In 2007, Moreno improperly released two murder suspects. He was also implicated in extortion rings and drug trafficking in an investigation ordered by Chavez. When he was defrocked he reportedly said he wasn’t worried, his good friends Cilia (Maduro’s wife) and Nico (Nicolas Maduro) would take care of him…and so they did.

 More tomorrow….

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