Don't Let 'Em Off The Hook

 We’ll get to the wrap up of this week’s Down The Rabbit Hole segment shortly but first …We have WOLA reporting that a group of Human Rights organizations have submitted a joint statement warning of the risks involved with the ICC’s (International Criminal Court) opening of a decentralized office in Caracas to investigate the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. They caution that other decentralized offices opened by the ICC in the past have been relatively cosmetic in nature and have had reduced staff and budget.

 They highlight the need for safe and transparent spaces for dialogue with victims and civil society.They are also concerned that OTP (Office of The Prosecutor), in public statements, assumes the current Venezuela judicial system can carry out independent and genuine investigations. They cite the report from the UN- OHCHR (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) stating that the TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) and the court system in general is not independent and allows Human Rights violators to operate with impunity. They need clarity on the fundamental idea of the investigation and it’s course.

 I think it’s worth noting that previous weak or purely cosmetic showings by the ICC were not under the guidance of the current Prosecutor General and his predecessor was a know Maduro regime apologist. Karim Khan has given no indication he will follow that course but I applaud the group of NGOs for putting it out there that the ICC can’t just paper this over. Keep up the pressure. Don’t let ’em off the hook!

 On the lighter side we have Airways reporting that Conviasa (government-owned airline) has announced the airline will fly direct to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup in November. It’s good to see them utilizing that Airbus they bought for long flights without refueling after Alex Saab was arrested when his plane stopped to refuel in Africa.

 And The South African reported “On This Day, 11 of April, Throughout History” in 2002, 200,000 people marched on Miraflores, the presidential palace in Caracas, demanding the resignation of Hugo Chavez. 19 protesters were killed. ( All the Chavista media outlets celebrate this day as putting down a coup)

 Then we have Translating Cuba reporting that in 2016 Venezuela exported 100,000 bpd (barrels per day) of oil to Cuba. In 2021 the average was down to 21,000 bpd.

 And we have reporting that Maduro’s goal of increasing oil production this year to 2 million bpd is :simply unachievable”. They maintain that PDVSA (government-owned oil company) operations are at base production capacity, 636,000 bpd – 871,000 bpd. They would need $12 billion per year and technical assistance from foreign entities and oil majors to significantly improve production. That is not happening until sanctions are eased or lifted.

 Then we have Insight Crime reporting on something we’ve discussed before. The R Organization (Venezuela criminal gang) is part criminal group/ part community organizer. It uses it’s 3R Foundation to defend it’s control of illegal mining. It stands up for miners and communities against government take-over of illegal mines (?for the benefit of the community or themselves?). They provide food deliveries, soup kitchens, toys for children,sports events, and have even built a school. They also perform health-related functions like Covid-19 disinfection and vaccination days.

 And in a disturbing report the US-DOJ announced that a Venezuelan woman was arraigned in Vermont along with a Vermont man and charged with conspiracy to kidnap, murder, and child pornography relating to production and sale of videos depicting sadistic abuse of prepubescent boys and the killing of an adult male. This is not a story about Chavista greed and disdain for humanity. It’s just greed and disdain for humanity in general.

 Then we have some good news (hard to come by in Venezuela). PR News Wire reports that the Simon Bolivar Foundation is sponsoring 7 scholarships to Baylor College of Medicine – Tropical Medicine Program. Maybe that will help with the resurgence of diseases thought eradicated which are flourishing under Chavismo.

 And we have a piece in Common Dreams which deserves notice if only for the fact that it is so drastically misguided. Thom Hartmann is calling for the nationalization of the US oil industry. He even mentions how the move shouldn’t be compared to Venezuela (It should!). He mistakenly says today’s climate crisis dwarfs Nazism in the 1940s, Bin Laden’s 9/11 attack,etc. As justification he cites a long list of previous government bailouts and boondoggles. My take : he’s pretty much wrong on everything. He reminds me of AOC and others that never mention that her Chief of Staff, shortly after leaving, said the Green New Deal (he was the architect of the plan) was never about climate change but about power.

 And we also have the Miami Herald reporting that the Biden team is divided over new talks with the Maduro regime about oil. Part of the Biden team wants now. The other part wants it but wants to wait as it’s too unpopular right now. Oh, and Maduro wants it too. My take (well documented) : It’s a bad idea. Easing or lifting sanctions would help Maduro and we would get nothing for it since Venezuela has no oil to sell us. The Cubans are already complaining that they don’t get enough oil from Venezuela (in repayment for medical doctors and ‘security advisers’) so even if, and it’s a huge if, there was an increase in production, who would get the excess capacity, the ‘imperialist’ gringos or Maduro’s ‘revolutionary brothers in arms’?

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that a Delaware judge has been “showered with objections” to sale procedures in Citgo shares for the $1.2 billion arbitration award to Crystallex. They say it will create a “fire sale” of shares akin to a bankruptcy. Looks they’re getting desperate.

 And we have Telesur (government media) telling us that Maduro said in a speech at the inauguration of the “Military Doctrine Center”, “…They (US and far-right opposition)want to prevent the triumph of a revolutionary government in Latin America.” If triumph is exemplified by the utter destruction of society in all forms I guess he’s right.

 Now let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole….

 One common thread throughout history is there have always been people that manage to get in positions of power that believe two things, the end justifies the means, and might makes right. It is not theory but fact. Chairman Mao said it and it’s oh so true, “Government power comes from the barrel of a gun.” When you refuse to do what the government tells you to do, irregardless of your legal rights, they will send people with guns. What keeps people with guns from doing as they please, wherever they please, to whomever they please? Other people with guns (and remember, I’m not a gun owner).

 In 2012 Hugo Chavez disarmed the Venezuelan people.At the time a lot of people I spoke with were OK with the idea. I knew a number of Europeans in Venezuela and almost all of them were in favor of the ban on private gun ownership. They don’t think that now. When it’s suggested “that wouldn’t happen here” or “we wouldn’t do that” be afraid…be very,very afraid. I have to believe that when an FAES death squad goes into the barrio to make an example out of someone that disagrees with the government they might think twice if the people in the neighborhood were armed. Call it common sense, self-preservation, or whatever but would you and a few other people with guns go somewhere intent on using them if you knew there were a hundred people there with guns that would shoot back? Probably not.

 This discussion could go on and on, as it has in the US for decades. People on both sides of the issue have reports and studies supporting their respective positions. I believe it is a good thing for any populace to have the right to bear arms as a check  against uncontrolled government oppression.While I believe my theories and rationalities supporting my opinion are sound I can’t say I’m sure my stance is the correct one. There is,however, one thing I can say with absolute certainty. I have spoken with many people in Venezuela and every single one believes that if the Venezuelans had the right to keep and bear arms Maduro and his thugs would have been gone years ago and the Venezuelan people would be rebuilding their country, not fleeing it.

 More tomorrow….

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