Not Aging Gracefully

We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole to wrap up this week’s segment in a bit but first we have a correction. We told you about Maduro’s National Assembly finally getting around to naming the new judges (I just can’t use the term justices) for the TSJ (supreme court). Well, we were wrong about who will be heading up the group. It will not be everyone’s favorite convicted murderer, Maikel Moreno, who has had the seat the last five years, although he still sits on the court. He will be replaced by Gladys Gutierrez as TSJ president. Gladys held the position for five years before Moreno took over. She has been a deputy in Maduro’s National Assembly as well as former director of the CNE (electoral council). She’s not a convicted murderer so that’s a plus however she is under US sanction… just changing deck chairs on the Titanic.

 Now, as far as not aging gracefully goes, Caracas Chronicles reports that retirees and pensioners are protesting again. This has become a recurring theme. They are trying to draw attention to Article 91 of the Venezuela Constitution (Yes, that’s the one rewritten by their hero, Hugo Chavez). The article states that they have the right to wages that are enough for dignified lives. They are asking for salaries and pensions equal to the basic food basket, enough for a 2,000 calorie diet for a month, basically subsistence level. Currently they receive salaries/pensions equivalent to the minimum wage which means they need five of their salaries/pensions to pay for the food basket. That’s not aging gracefully, a dignified life, or anything close to what Chavez guaranteed them in the constitution although Maduro has demonstrated time and again he doesn’t pay much attention to the constitution.

 They went on to say that 75% of public workers are living in extreme poverty and over 100 union leaders are in prison for political reasons. According to the Director of CONVITE, only 2% of seniors have access to private healthcare. We’ve covered many times that the public system has completely collapsed. Oh, and two members of the National Guild of Press Workers have been harassed trying to cover the protests.

 And lest we forget, Tuesday, April 26th marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Juan Pablo Pernalete. He was a student killed by the Venezuela military during the 2017 protests when they fired a tear gas canister directly into his chest. Those responsible still have not been investigated or charged.

 And we have Telesur (government media) reporting that Conviasa (government-owned airline) will start flights to Saint Vincent. Also the government will forgive the $70 million in debt from Saint Vincent owed to Venezuela from Petro Caribe, Chavez’s oil and loans for political loyalty program that was halted when the money ran out. Now we know why the president of Saint Vincent was in Venezuela last week for a ‘medical check-up’.

 And in case you missed it, Bitcoinist reports that a Venezuelan was among the recipients of an award for his development of a peer to peer system for Bitcoin trading using the Lightning Network. Way to go!

Then we have Digital Journal reporting on the new status symbol in Venezuela. (No, it’s not Chavistas wearing watches that cost more than the average Venezuelan will earn in a lifetime) It’s bodyguards! They have become increasingly popular among the “enchufados” (plugged-ins). The murder rates are declining (we’ve previously told you about gang members lamenting the high cost of bullets) as well as kidnappings but both are still among the highest in the world. A bodyguard can earn 6-7 times their day job salary as most are police and soldiers. They have the advantage of being able to use their service pistols legally while private citizens are prohibited from owning firearms. Now the Chavistas can be well protected on their way to their private jets.

 Then we have Telesur reporting that Nicaragua and Venezuela are relaunching their Cooperation Commission. Big surprise huh?

 And we have Havana Times reporting that opposition activists from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have signed the “Granada Declaration” in Spain to support and fight for democracy in the three countries.

 And in a demonstration of priorities we have Army Recognition reporting that the Venezuela military has deployed Chines amphibious vehicles in Operation Bolivarian Shield at the Venezuela/Colombia border… comforting. No money for food or medicine but we have new amphibious fighting vehicles.

 Then we have CGTN reporting that Venezuela students are back to in-person learning. However, the Venezuela Union of Teachers says it’s impossible to return to 5 days a week. They tell us that 70% of schools are in poor condition  and lack basic services…like water. Some schools are having water delivered once a week and then it is rationed. Viva la Revolution!

 Oh, and Translating Cuba reports that despite the Venezuela agricultural sector’s pleas for diesel fuel the Maduro regime is sending 190,000 barrels of diesel to Cuba. Another sign of Maduro’s priorities.

 And we have Reason telling us that despite extending TPS (temporary protected status) to 320,000 Venezuelans in the US, the Biden administration is deporting many new apprehensions to Colombia if they previously lived there. What a mess.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 I recently discovered a new term while reading an Op Ed by a Venezuelan Ex Pat. He was talking about a trend he’s become aware of having heard the same story repeated numerous times by other Venezuelan Ex Pats around the world (you can also include us). He calls it “Political Appropriation”. It’s the tendency by people who identify as “Democratic Socialists” to dismiss a Venezuelan’s real-life experience with socialism. The idea is that the Venezuelans don’t accurately portray the situation in Venezuela and don’t really understand the reasoning and motives behind socialist policies. Many Venezuelan Ex Pats are even dismissed due to the light color of their skin (if their skin is lighter they must be privileged). I feel the Venezuelan’s frustration. I guess it’s easier to be ideologically pure when you aren’t confronted with the consequences, up close and personal. (FYI, I find these people incredibly condescending, making statements like “this may be too nuanced for some”, meanwhile some of us have an IQ is higher than they could dream…put that in your “nuanced” pipe and smoke it!)

 Just so you know, Pope Francis, the first admittedly socialist Pope, refuses to denounce the regimes of Nicolas Maduro and Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua).

 Illegal trafficking of narcotics,food, gasoline, and minerals produce an estimated $9 billion a year for the Maduro regime. Remember that number the next time you hear there is no money to buy much needed food and medicine for the Venezuelan people.

 Peru and Venezuela both have populations in the 30 million range and both are South American countries. Peru doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of natural resources while Venezuela is incredibly blessed with natural resources including the world’s highest proven oil reserves. It is almost incomprehensible that there is a huge influx of Venezuelans into Peru. In Venezuela they are starving and dying. In Peru they are thriving and just living their lives. The only real difference is that Venezuela has Chavismo. Oh, FYI, Venezuela was the only South American country with a contracting economy in 2018. Argentina and Colombia are a bit bigger, population wise, while Chile and Ecuador are a bit smaller. Pretty much everyone is doing fine ….except Venezuela.

 When Maduro was denied new loans from China and Russia, in desperation for money, he gave away several billion dollars in debt owed to Venezuela in return for cash immediately. When he heard that Jamaica and the Dominican Republic had money from bond auctions he offered them one dollar of debt forgiveness for every dollar paid to Venezuela if they paid immediately. Chavismo isn’t content with destroying Venezuela today, they will wipe out tomorrow as well.

 Summary : This will be quick. It’s pretty easy to see that 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism spares no one and nothing. It destroys everything it touches.

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with more news and our next Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “Bullets” (no, not those bullets, bullet points)

 Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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