Why Not Feed 'Em All?

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…WFP (UN World Food Programme) marks the !st anniversary of it’s agreement with the Venezuelan government. For those who don’t remember, NGOs have been trying to help the starving people of Venezuela for a long time. They have been (until recently) denied access to the population by the Maduro regime citing issues with sovereignty and “the dignity of the Venezuelan people”. What’s dignified about digging for food out of the back of a garbage truck? Another stated reason was they couldn’t guarantee the origin nor the quality of the food. As far as the quality goes, the Maduro regime’s government food program, CLAP, routinely provides food of poor quality and past it’s expiration date and as to the origin, who cares? At one point there were warehouses of food in countries surrounding Venezuela that had to be distributed elsewhere (while the Venezuelans continued to starve) when the Chavistas wouldn’t let it in citing the ever popular, “It could be poisoned by right-wing extremists.”

 A year ago, on the heels of a scathing report from the UNOHCHR (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) detailing the mass starvation among myriad Human Rights violations, Maduro was looking for a little good PR and announced that the UN World Food Programme would be allowed access to Venezuela albeit on a limited basis.

 The WFP has been distributing food primarily through it’s school meals program and is currently supporting approximately 120,000 children. Their target for the end of the 2022-2023 school year is 1.5 million and will also begin a school rehab program.

 The Maduro regime is currently ‘playing nice’ with the international community seeing a possible opportunity for sanctions relief. There is a long list of NGOs that would help feed the Venezuelan people if they were allowed to do so. Why not feed ’em all, Nico? Those of us that have been following this slow motion train wreck for some time know why. Aside from the fact that it makes 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism look bad, feeding a starving population whose government refuses to do so, it’s about control. Hunger is a powerful weapon (just ask the warlords in Somalia) and the government’s CLAP food program is an effective means to extort control over the people…”Stay in line or your monthly food shipment won’t arrive on time… or at all.” The Maduro regime has been letting the Venezuelan people starve since 2014 (remember that when you hear sanctions are the reason for starvation in Venezuela). The time is long past due to let in other NGOs and really begin doing the job the Chavistas are unwilling to do…Feed The People!!

 Oh, and don’t forget that the ICC (International Criminal Court) is investigating the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. Might denying your people access to food qualify as both?

 And then we have VP, Delcy Rodriguez, telling us that imports from the US were up 46% in 2021…no mention of sanctions or “the criminal economic blockade.” She also told us that hotel bookings were over 90% of capacity for Easter week… no details on where the numbers came from…as usual.

 And we have reports of heavy rains and flooding collapsing roads and houses in three states. Ho…Hum…

 Gov.UK reports that they’re looking to establish a Latin America think tank for ‘Local Legal and Criminal Justice Policy Development’ in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and/or Panama…possibly even Venezuela. They are also interested in regional investigative journalism…I guess that leaves out Venezuela.

 And BA Times reports that opposition groups and individuals in Venezuela and Argentina as well as US Senator, Marco Rubio, are calling on Argentina President Fernandez to rethink his “foolish proposal.” That would be the asking of other Latin American countries to reevaluate their respective stances on Venezuela. We agree with them…why rethink, at this point? What has changed?

 Then we have AFP reporting that in the Venezuela military it’s “worse to be gay than corrupt.” Despite Chavismo’s claim to be supportive of the LGBTQ community the Venezuela military says homosexuality (referred to as ‘unnatural acts’) is punishable by up to 3 years in prison. Corruption goes, more or less, unnoticed.

 And we have Telesur (government media) reporting that the US and Cuba are meeting in Washington, D.C. on migration. Cuban authorities are, however, concerned that migrating families face racism and violence in the US as well as potential abuse at the hands of Customs Enforcement authorities. I have to wonder, why are all these people trying to get into the US if it is so inherently racist, violent, and abusive?

 And speaking of Cuba, Reuters reports that PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) is readying a diesel cargo to Cuba after a 7 month pause. I guess that’s what brought down last year’s average of shipments from Venezuela to Cuba to only 20,000 bpd (barrels per day), down from about 100,000 bpd pre-Maduro. Remember, Cuba pays for none of it and the Venezuelan people have been enduring critical fuel shortages for years. And as long as I’m in reminding mode remember (this is something nobody talks about), part of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Venezuela is a founding member) charter is that member countries must first address domestic needs before exporting. Nobody seems to pay attention to that when it comes to Venezuela. The Maduro regime has been violating that for years.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 The only real-time reporting available to those without internet access (I’m talking about the truth here) is on the bus system (currently running at 10% of capacity). Yes, to find out the truth in Venezuela you take the bus and there, if you’re lucky, you’ll be exposed to BUSTV. A group of young people, realizing that many Venezuelans had no access to real news began putting on impromptu pseudo news shows on buses utilizing cardboard cut-out TV screens. So far they haven’t been thrown in jail but we’ll see…

 In 2019 we entered a new phase of free speech repression. On numerous occasions the National Guard blocked access to the parliamentary chamber by the National Assembly so they could engage in debate over real issues while allowing the ANC (the Chavista Assembly) access to meet in the same building. At least 32 journalists were arrested and illegally detained. The regime also has an alternative strategy when they don’t actually arrest and deport journalists. When journalists periodically have to return to their home countries for one reason or another, as happened to Nick Casey of the NY Times, they are denied re-entry into Venezuela.

 The judicial system is, as you might expect, complicit in journalistic repression. After National Assembly were allowed entry into parliamentary chambers journalists wanted to cover the proceedings but the national Guard denied them access. They petitioned the TSJ (supreme court) for relief but the TSJ wouldn’t hear the case. When some of the same journalists filed a motion to reopen the investigation of attacked journalists the motion was denied. These are but two examples of what happens all the time.

 However, every now and then the regime makes a miscalculation and we get a glimpse of reality. Maduro, surprisingly, granted Jorge Ramos (my apologies for previously referring to him as Jorge Rodriguez) an interview at Miraflores, the presidential palace. The prevailing rationale behind the granting of the interview seemed to be that Jorge Ramos had been widely known as an outspoken critic of then US President, Donald Trump, so maybe he would look favorably upon Maduro and lob up some softball questions…wrong!

 About 17 minutes into the scheduled one hour interview Ramos asked Maduro how he could deny there was a food crisis in light of proof “like this” and he showed him a video on his ipad of people digging for food out of the back of a garbage truck. A furious Maduro stormed out of the interview and security stormed in. Ramos and his crew were detained, their devices and equipment confiscated, and they were deported. Normally only well scripted interviews by regime officials are aired so Ramos said he doubted the interview would be seen even referring to it as “my best interview nobody will ever see.”

 Eventually, after passing through four different countries, the recording was recovered and the world got a glimpse of the real Nicolas Maduro. Ramos doesn’t believe he will be allowed back in Venezuela.

 More tomorrow….



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