The Big Payback

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a bit but first…From Caracas Chronicles we have NGO- Acceso a la Justicia warning the new draft Law For International Cooperation being considered by Maduro’s AN (National Assembly) would allow the regime to impose more restrictions and obstacles for NGOs. This follows the standard Chavista MO to deal with criticism. In this case it was the international community calling for NGOs to be allowed into Venezuela to help people that the Maduro regime was unwilling or unable to help. They were denied access for years as Maduro claimed there was no humanitarian crisis or the sovereignty of Venezuela had to be respected or the dignity of the Venezuelan people had to be respected…or whatever.

 Finally, Maduro made a big show of allowing them in (as if he was doing them a big favor by allowing them to help those whose lives he had destroyed) but only a few and with limited access, then use(d) the situation to pass a law giving the government more, or total, control.

 As bad as this sounds the reality is much worse. The Law For International Cooperation (sounds good…benign…huh?) is similar to laws in Cuba and Nicaragua that have cause more than 200 NGOs to be closed. What this really is, is “The Big Payback” for NGOs that cooperated. first with the UN (United Nations) and then with the ICC (International Criminal Court). The UN produced two scathing reports on Human Rights violations and the lack of an independent judiciary. That led to the ICC opening an investigation into the Maduro regime for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. Forget the fact that Maduro agreed to have his regime investigated by both organizations. For whatever his reasons may have been, I doubt he thought that both the UN and the ICC would start turning the screws on him and his regime. After all, in Venezuela nobody criticizes Chavismo, at least not for long.

 The bill’s “Statement of Purpose” clearly states it is a mechanism to silence people considered internal enemies who carry out destabilizing tasks. One of the things it does is gives the regime control of all the money. (We know what happens when the Chavistas get their hands on money…it disappears) All money would go to Venezuelan authorities and then be distributed. NGOs aren’t likely to respond favorably to that idea.

 It also requires NGOs to report to the government ‘final beneficiaries’ ie; if NGO – Provea assists victims of torture by the government (cooperating with the UN of ICC) their information must be reported. This, combined with the wealth of information the government already has on a large portion of the population through it’s “Carney de la Patria” (Homeland Card) is another step towards more “Big Brother” oppression. It also creates an NGO registry, the details of which are unknown. NGOs that cooperate with sanctions will be eliminated and prohibited (this much is known).

 The law applies to all entities that receive international funding including independent media, journalists, union worker associations, universities, and others. I guess as long as they were going after the NGOs they figured they would go after everybody…anybody. Chavismo has always harassed, criminalized, and persecuted NGOs, companies, and individuals. This just takes it to the next level…more 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism…”Viva La Revolucion”!!

 Caracas Chronicles also had a piece titled “Bodegonzuela”. Venezuela’s “economic recovery” is not really seen in consumption levels for the entire population. ANOVA Policy Research highlights some concerns. Only 53.8% of people between the ages of 15-64 participate in the labor market. Wages and salaries remain extremely low. Remittances from abroad are now only received by 1 in 4 families and the average amount is just $65 a month. Both these numbers used to be more than double. In short, there may be more money in circulation and there are more products available but only the top 10% (if that) are benefiting.

 Then we have The National News reporting that , Isadora Zubillaga, Deputy Foreign Minister for Interim President, Juan Guaido, says western leaders must sustain international pressure and sanctions on Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. “Making regimes like Maduro’s, Putin’s, and Iran’s stronger will not make democracies and freedom-loving people stronger…You don’t trade oil for democracy…They will never be friends with the US…There is a window of opportunity for world powers to pressure Maduro to return to talks with the opposition… It’s not going to be spontaneous, it needs to be coordinated.”

 Let’s head “Down The Rabbit Hole” , shall we….

Chapter 18/ It’s A Wrap

 “There are only four things…what people want to hear…what they are willing to believe…everything else…and then there’s the truth.”  ‘The International’

 I wanted to begin our wrap-up session with that quote from “The International” because I think of it all the time. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am, if nothing else, a cynic and that quote is perfect for me. It is a constant reminder not to “drink the Kool-aid”.

 In my (not so humble) opinion, we tend to get into trouble when ideology trumps, no pun intended, reality.Everything and everyone should be evaluated on it’s own, or his or her own, merits, not grouped together. Everything and everyone are not always as they appear to be. I find that I am usually better served when I slow down, stop and think, look beneath the surface, peel back the layers of the onion, all that good stuff. If I take the time, am willing to ask the questions, and honestly evaluate the answers (those based on facts) I at least have a chance to reach some kind of understanding. I may still get it wrong but at least I have a chance.

 So why am I saying this? If you haven’t guessed already, I’m not a big fan of socialism. It seems to go against both human nature and what I learned from my parents and grandparents, specifically another good old saying, ” There is no free lunch”. I think of socialism as “wouldn’t it be great if…?”. The USA got an early look at socialism/communism with the Pilgrims. When they arrived in the “New World” they took a communal approach to planting, tending the crops, and harvesting. It would have been great if everyone had the same sense of responsibility.It would have been great if everyone was equally motivated and had the same work ethic. They almost didn’t survive “wouldn’t it be great if…?” and did so only through magnanimous treatment by the indigenous people. The following season they went the private property, personal responsibility route and they prospered.

 While I could go on and on about the failures of socialism there’s plenty of good, well-researched work out there regarding the consequences of socialist policies.My goal was to try to understand what happened in Venezuela through a lot of hard work, research, and personal experience. I believe I have accomplished my goal and have a much better understanding of what happened than I did before I started this project (and before I lived there).

 More tomorrow….

©Copyright 2021 all right reserved.