We’ll get to our wrap-up of Down The Rabbit Hole in just a bit but first…a Cluster…. Update.The other day we talked about the anticipated problems with Maduro’s new foreign currency/cryptocurrency tax (IGTF). To put it mildly, as one businessman was quoted, “It’s rather confusing.” People not wanting to use dollars to avoid the tax, businesses not knowing how to,or being able to, collect the tax, and there being a shortage of bolivars for people that wanted to pay in the local currency. Now we have Fedecamaras (business chamber) calling for changes to IGTF to end the “total chaos” due to lack of preparation, information, and grey areas in the law (like what, and who exactly, is a ‘special contributor’…they’re exempt). The negative impact is evident.

 So what is the Chavista’s response? Well, it’s typical Chavismo… “It’s been great!” And the general manager of Seniat (commerce regulatory agency) says “everybody has to pay!” Uhh…OK

 Now we have the ANC imposed Prosecutor General, Elvis Amoroso, threatening Fedecamaras and Consecomercio (commerce organization) with audits and penalties for companies that don’t accept dollars in response to the IGTF. There was no recognition of the lack of information (or systems) to comply, legal loopholes, and lack of time to adapt systems, not to mention, chaos in general. He told them, “Businessmen are hurting the country’s patrimony.” So now you have a law you’re not sure how to comply with and if you try to protect yourself you’ll get hit with audits and penalties (the same audits and penalties if you don’t comply properly). Can you say “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”? As we said the other day, what a cluster….

 Oh, and while he was at it, our boy Elvis said he has barred 179 people from running for office (I wonder how many were Chavista?) and he’s charging Juan Guaido (no specific charges were specified).

 And do you remember how we told you that Telesur (government media) claims they’re independent? The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Now we have The Dispatch telling us that Telesur is the Kremlin’s echo chamber. The Kremlin started it’s influence with Telesur back in 2005 so this is nothing new. The Kremlin and Maduro regularly package anti-US propaganda as anti-imperialist while they present the Kremlin’s imperialism, their terrorism (and Maduro’s terrorism against his own people) as anti-terrorism. Their authoritarianism is portrayed as ‘democracy’. They place a lot of emphasis on social media.Telesur has 3 million Twitter followers (Venezuela’s population is only 26 million) and their You Tube account has 1.5 million subscribers.

 Also bombarding Venezuelans constantly are RT (Russia) and HispanTV (Iran). In the early 1700s Jonathan Swift wrote “Falsehood flies and truth comes limping after it.” The US needs to appeal to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and You Tube to pay more attention to these Spanish language channels. (The only problem is all these people are already indoctrinated, ex: all of them buried the Hunter Biden story prior to the last election in the US) The question is, how important is the truth?

 Then we have the Venezuela Observatory of Finance saying that March inflation was six times higher than February…Uh Oh… And speaking of the inflation rate, BCV (Venezuela Central Bank) shows inflation at 1.4% while Venezuela Observatory of Finance has it at 10.5%. Who do you believe?

 And for all the talk about an independent judiciary and the reforms they’re making Maduro’s National Assembly still hasn’t finalized the list of new judges (again, I hesitate to call them justices) for the TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court). The hold up is still the ongoing discussion of power quotas at the TSJ.

 And do you remember when Maduro announced the new minimum wage, an 18 fold increase? It was supposed to allow for the purchase of the monthly food basket (enough to feed a family of 5 a balanced diet for a month). Well, it already takes 10 minimum wages to purchase the food basket. It probably won’t be long until it takes over 100 monthly minimum wages to buy it, just like it did before the minimum wage increase.

 Then we have the president of the United Transportation Guild seeking to increase the fare for public transportation to 3 bolivars per ride (about 66 cents) It doesn’t seem like that much but the minimum wage is 130 bolivares a month which equates to about 4.3 bolivares a day (based on a 30 day month). So, that would mean, after you take the bus each day you would have 1.3 bolivares left over ( about 33 cents).

 And we have NGO Foro Penal telling us that Yanomami’s (indigenous people)  who witnessed the murder of 4 Yanomami’s by the Venezuela military over a WiFi pass code were taken to a military hospital without telling their lawyer. Hmm…

 We also have Captain Carlos Caguaripano, in jail since 2017, missing his court hearing because authorities didn’t move him (victim of torture). Hmm…

 And on the electoral front (even though no elections are pending in the near future) Sumate is asking the CNE (electoral council) to guarantee the right to vote of 7 million Venezuelans in country and abroad that need to be updated in the registry. Remember, we told you the in country population is only about 26 million.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 Bachelet, in her former capacity as President of Chile, while not a real backer of Maduro, wouldn’t actually condemn his, or his regime’s, behavior. There is currently an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity prompted by a scathing report from the OAS presented to the court.So…what would she do? What would she say?

 If Maduro thought he would get a free pass he was sorely mistaken. The report stated that, at the time of the report, in the prior 18 months the regime had been responsible for approximately 7,000 extrajudicial killings (some say 9,000). The Chavistas, as usual, responded with mixed messages. “The numbers are inflated and inaccurate” or “They were people resisting arrest or obstructing justice” or the ever popular “She is a puppet of the right-wing imperialists”… and there was a lot more. The report was quite long and detailed but here are a few highlights.

 During the 2019 protests government-backed ‘colectivos’ killed 52 protesters. As of May,2019 793 people remained arbitrarily arrested. In the  four months from November,2018 – February, 2019 there were 1,557 deaths in hospitals due to lack of supplies. The population suffers from chronic food insecurity and access to food is a Human Right. The government is systematically violating the rights of indigenous peoples through environmental destruction of their ancestral lands and even denying them government representation. In these respects, and many more, the government ombudsman, who is supposed to speak on behalf of the people, is suspiciously silent ….always.

 Summary : The US government and the CIA in particular have been widely criticized for backing the Pinochet regime in Chile a few decades ago, and rightfully so. He was reviled for his death squads and the fact that the US backed him is a stain on US foreign policy to this day,again rightfully so. That said, Pinochet, during his 17 years in power was responsible for anywhere from 1,200 – 3,200 (the Chilean government says 3,000) extrajudicial killings. If the global community is still outraged at 3,000 killings over 17 years how will they react to the Chavistas killing 7,000 in 18 months? When FAES drags a barrio resident out into the middle of the street in the middle of the night and shoots him in the head it’s “part of the Operation for the People’s Liberation”. When a ‘colectivo’ shoots a protester it’s an extension of “Plan Zamora” , the 2017 plan authorizing crowd control by sniper, coordination of ‘colectivos’, and national militia by the government, and military trials for civilians.

 Maduro and the Chavistas have nothing but contempt for the rule of law, societal norms, or even common decency. They have proven time and again they will do anything to stay in power. The migration crisis and all the other issues in Venezuela are nothing short of tragic. The three-headed monster of Maduro’s security services (Can we just call them ‘death squads’ ?) is nothing short of terrifying.

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back with more for you Monday.

 Have a great weekend everybody!!!!

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