Lipstick Anyone?

 We’ll be heading Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…Ukr Agro reports that from 2013 – 2020 most South American countries have shown a remarkable increase in pork production. In that same time frame pork production in Venezuela is down 81%. In the Tachira region there used to be about 300 producers. Now there are 15. The Venezuela National Ranchers Federation estimates that to return crops and herds to their pre-Maduro levels it will take approximately $10 billion. The Chavistas are going to need a whole lotta’ lipstick for this pig.

 Caracas Chronicles had a piece that gives an insight into the kind of problems faced by agro- producers.They report that  Venezuela military officers punish producers who refuse to be extorted by throwing their produce out in the street if they refuse to pay. To get from Tachira to Anzoategui trucks must pass through 80 checkpoints and pay.

 But not to worry, the authoritarians still love each other. Telesur (government media) tells us that the Venezuela Foreign Minister congratulated Nicaragua for being named co-chair of the FAO Agricultural Group. I don’t follow Nicaragua as closely as Venezuela but the World Bank says countries in Latin America and the Caribbean import between 80-90 % of food consumed. Looks like those co-chairs have their work cut out.

 Telesur is also reporting that Venezuela’s Vice Minister of Industrial Development says Venezuela is looking to expand trade with Indonesia and Lebanon. I’m sure that will solve a lot of problems.

 And Morningstar reports that all is not well in paradise, at least not for PCV (Communist Party of Venezuela). They are calling for an investigation into the murder of Juan Hernandez, a PCV social leader.He was kidnapped on March 25th and his body was found two days later.This is the second PCV leader killed in the last three months. They say they are the victims of increased repression. Maduro says they are “agents of imperialism”. He has previously accused PCV of trying to divide PSUV (the Chavistas) and bring down “The Revolution.” Good luck with the investigation.

 And it looks like the ICC (International Criminal Court) is expanding it’s investigation into the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced after his second visit to Venezuela that they will be opening an office in Caracas to facilitate the investigation. After a little ‘happy talk’ thanking Maduro for his cooperation he said that they have acknowledged the Venezuelan government remains of the view that conditions for an investigation have not been met. (other than numerous reports from just about everybody including two from the UNOHCHR. That’s the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for those that haven’t been following.)

 And just so you don’t think the Venezuelan military spends all it’s time shaking down farmers and killing indigenous people over WiFi pass codes (Remember that one from last week?) Telesur reports that the military seized a quantity of “high volatility explosives” in Apure. It was really just a couple of barrels of gunpowder and a drum of magazines.

 Then we have Dissident Voice reminding us that they stick up for repressive regimes everywhere. They tell us that “Illegally Imprisoned Venezuelan Diplomat”,Alex Saab, (the corrupt businessman at the center of Maduro’s various fraudulent schemes) is due to appear in court in Miami April 6th. ‘Venezuelan Diplomat’ huh? As cover for his nefarious activities Saab received his “Special Envoy with Diplomatic Credentials” status in 2018. He never participated in any diplomatic activities or functions before his arrest and extradition to the US. Oh,and FYI, these guys are also of the belief that sanctions are to blame for all the ills visited on Venezuela and not the Maduro regime.

 And Brookings had a reminder for us about migration. Syrian forced migrants received $3,150 per person in aid. South Sudanese migrants received $1,390 each. The number per Venezuelan force migrant, $265. They also reported that the situation for Venezuelan migrants is more permanent than people think. Even with a change of government tomorrow there’s really nothing to return to. 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism has destroyed it all.

 Then we had a video that went viral of a deputy (representative) from Maduro’s National Assembly ranting about the TSJ (Supreme Court) and two people (unnamed) imposing decisions even though they’re not judges. It’s rare that anyone publicly says what we all know to be the case.

 And Haiti Libre tells us that Maduro sent a message of affection and gratitude  to the people of Haiti in commemoration of the birthday of Alexandre Petion, one of the country’s founders. Maduro played up the cooperation between Petion and Simon Bolivar, The Great Liberator. What he didn’t mention was anything about Haiti in modern times….you know…like the Duvalier regime (Papa Doc and Baby Doc). They were in power for almost 30 years in Haiti and killed 30,000 people, many by the MVSM, the Duvalier’s ‘not so secret’ police, also known as the Tonton Macoute. They were notorious for their corruption and brutality. Sound like anyone we know? (FYI, Duvalier’s average of 1,000 extrajudicial executions per year was lower than Maduro’s average). This is perfect timing and the perfect segue to this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment so here we go…

 Chapter 14/ The Three-Headed Monster

 Fernando Alban, an opposition politician, plunged to his death after only three days in custody.The official cause of death was ruled a suicide.The first “official report” said the subject appeared despondent, asked the officers watching him to use the bathroom, and threw himself out of the bathroom window on the 10th floor of the holding facility.The report was soon revised when they were informed that the bathroom had no windows.

 Captain Rafael Acosta, a Venezuelan naval officer, was wheeled into court for a hearing after about a week in custody. The judge suspended the hearing when Captain Acosta appeared unresponsive and could only weakly utter one word, “help”. He couldn’t move, had swollen hands and feet, many lacerations, bloody fingernails, and presumably other injuries that weren’t visible. He was remanded to the prison medical wing and a day later was dead. The initial “official report” listed suicide as the probable cause of death. The officers said he threw himself off a balcony. Again, the report was soon revised when they were informed that his injuries weren’t consistent with a fall. There were also conflicting reports by Chavista officials that he died in court, he died before being wheeled into court, etc.

 The only thing unusual about these two stories is that there were actually details made public. Similar suspicious circumstances are rumored and reported all the time in Venezuela. The reason investigations either go nowhere or inquiries are more or less forgotten is simple, fear. Fear of what exactly…? That would be the Three-Headed Monster. No, I’m not talking about the GNB, PNB,and the ‘colectivos’ (National Guard, National Police, and the government backed gangs on motorcycles) that are infamous for repressing protests. I’m talking about SEBIN,DGCIM, and FAES, the three main government security services. The secret police.

 History is replete with authoritarian regimes using secret police to terrorize and control the population, the most infamous being the Gestapo under Hitler and the Nazis. The Gestapo had nothing on these guys not to mention the Nazis had one secret police organization (two if you count the SS although there was nothing secret about the SS). Prior to 2017 the Chavistas had two ‘secret police’ departments, the DGCIM (military intelligence) and SEBIN (government intelligence). The fact that Maduro felt the need to establish a third speaks volumes about Chavismo, in general, and Nicolas Maduro in particular.

More tomorrow….


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