Self Serving Parrot

 Before we get started with our Down The Rabbit Hole segment we have a few news items. First up we have Anadolu reporting that Venezuela’s number two man (some say number one),Diosdado Cabello is suggesting a page from Putin’s playbook. He’s saying that perhaps a Ukraine-like operation is needed in Colombia (no friend of the Maduro regime) to “decocaine-ize” the country and see what’s left after that.” I can’t help but wonder if he may have ulterior motives. It;s widely known he’s the main man in the “Cartel of the Suns” drug trafficking organization. He, like any good parrot, uses lines from Russian propaganda you don’t hear anywhere else. When was the last time you heard anyone refer to what’s going on in Ukraine as “denazification”? Oh, and he also parrots the party line by calling it “an operation” and not war…an invasion. Funny, for all their constant references to “protecting sovereignty” they have no interest in Ukraine’s sovereignty. The same goes for their use of “self determination.”

 Then we have Cryptopolitan reporting that Venezuela (already tops in Latin America in cryptocurrency adoption) is now topping the NFT auction charts. Desperate people will latch on to anything (except ‘el Petro’).

 And speaking of “el Petro” (or not speaking of ‘el Petro’) we have reporting that the Official Gazette has published the new minimum wage decree. The minimum wage is officially listed as 130 bolivares a month which translates to about $30 a month. No mention was made of “el Petro” even though the announcement of the new minimum wage referenced “1/2 a Petro” Even the government gave up on that fraud. Maybe it was when they had to clarify that even though ‘el Petro’ was referenced, if the price of ‘el Petro’ went up in bolivares it would have no effect on the minimum wage. And don’t forget, just like the last major minimum wage increase (this one was an 18 fold increase), it still only brings the minimum wage UP TO THE UN STANDARD FOR EXTREME POVERTY!!!! That’s a dollar a day!

 Then we have Insight Crime reporting on a troubling trend. With the increased activity in the Venezuela border areas with Colombia by FARC dissidents and ELN there is also an increased use of landmines. This has been a common practice by the groups in Colombia for a long time and although they haven’t been that active there recently there are still a lot of landmines around. Last year in Colombia 152 people were killed or injured by landmines Now,in February alone, 900 mines were decommissioned in Venezuela.

 And in the “propaganda without borders” category w have Cyberscoop telling us that Venezuela leftists are now exporting their social media bombardment to the Colombia presidential campaign. The majority of the increased activity has been tied to the Venezuela Ministry of Communication and Venezuela national telecom agency CANTV.

 And on the potential oil deal front we have Argus Media reporting that the CEO of Hunt Consolidated says that buying oil from Venezuela or Iran is a step backwards in ESG (Environmental and Social Governance). US oil majors spend billions of dollars on developing technology to address environmental concerns. Venezuela spends nothing. They don’t even report oil spills. I wonder why the “Green New Deal” proponents want to do business with Venezuela but not Canada or US oil majors?

 Oh, and in case you were wondering, Argus Media is also reporting that talks between the Maduro regime and the opposition have stalled. Now there’s a big surprise. The head of Maduro’s National Assembly called opposition leader and interim President, Juan Guaido, a drug dealer and Guaido refused to accept two people recommended by the regime for his negotiation team. Why aren’t things progressing?

 And if you thought the current situation was an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge between Russia and Venezuela CSIS gives us something to think about. Under Chavismo, Venezuela and Russia have entered into over 260 bilateral agreements. Oh, and Russian oil company Roszarubezhneft (rebranded from Rosneft) still owns 40% of five joint ventures with PDVSA (Venezuela government oil company). The relaxing of sanctions could actually help these guys.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole, shall we….

 In 2007 in his capacity as Foreign Minister, Maduro gave Moreno diplomatic posts in Italy followed by Trinidad and Tobago. Moreno also spent a lot of time in the Dominican Republic and Miami. When Chavez died in 2013 Maduro called Maikel Moreno back to Venezuela and nominated him to serve on the TSJ.Two years later Maduro named him President of TSJ. (What! No confirmation hearing?) Chavez’s 1999 Constitution states that the President of TSJ is “to be of good repute.” This must be one of those things like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “Good repute” must be in the eye of the Marxist former bus driver. In the two years leading up to being President of TSJ, Moreno established a reputation for ruling on cases rejected by both attorneys and judges.It is also well known that he has ties to corrupt businessman Raul Gorin who is facing money laundering charges. Sounds like “good repute” to me. Regarding Maikel Moreno, former judge,Luis Velasquez, said “The greatest affront to the people is to put a criminal in charge of the justice system.”

 When the opposition swept to victory in the legislative elections of 2015 the appointment of Moreno heading the TSJ would be crucial to Maduro.He would lead and the other judges would follow.The pattern would be repeated time and again. Maduro would decree and the TSJ would ratify said decree as constitutional no matter how blatantly unconstitutional it might be, beginning with his decree powers themselves.His emergency powers were required to be renewed by the National Assembly. When the opposition took control of the assembly Maduro began renewing the emergency powers himself (even though,as previously stated, he denied there was a humanitarian emergency) and the TSJ ruled his decision constitutional.

 In 2015 the TSJ disallowed the election results of four MPs taking away the opposition’s super majority.

 In 2016 international organizations G-7, UNASUR, OAS, MERCOSUR, and even THE POPE called for health-related emergency aid to be admitted to Venezuela. The assembly passed it’s health emergency law and the aid was denied by Maduro citing sovereignty issues and, just as in 2019, said he was concerned over the quality of the food and medicine in the proposed aid. The TSJ upheld Maduro’s decision ruling that the assembly’s declaration infringed on executive powers. Maduro would allow shipments from Cuba,Iran,and China but it was very limited as evidenced by the 85% shortage of medicine in 2016, 2017, 2018, and up to 90% shortage in 2019.

 In 2016 the National Assembly commission declared 13 TSJ judges appointed by the outgoing Chavista MPs should be dismissed because procedure wasn’t followed according to the Constitution and 3 more judges were unfit to serve. The TSJ ruled the declaration totally invalid due to the assembly’s standing with the court and since they had no super majority. (round and round we go)

 In 2016 and 2017 the TSJ sentenced five opposition mayors to prison. While the rulings were denounced they were not challenged.

 In 2017 during the height of the protests, repression, calls for dialogue, etc. Maduro called for creation of a constituent assembly through snap elections. Remember, the protests were sparked when the TSJ assumed (then reversed itself) the legitimate assembly’s powers. While the constitution provides for the establishment of such an assembly (Chavez did it), it requires passage of a referendum before election of members can be called for and the constituent assembly (ANC) can be convened. Maduro’s decision to bypass the constitutionally mandated process was upheld by the TSJ.

 More tomorrow….

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