New Perestroika?

OK, for those not familiar with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Perestroika was the reform movement within the Communist Party in the USSR in the 1980s. The people were tired of the long lines for pretty much everything and the ubiquitous shortages and wanted economic reform. Socialism/communism clearly wasn’t working.

 Now we have 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism failing spectacularly on every level and we have the same situation although, unlike the USSR where no one could leave, Venezuela is in the midst of a migrant crisis while those behind want change. The question is, will President/ authoritarian/ dictator, Nicolas Maduro allow it?

 With the announcement that some state-owned companies are going to make shares available for purchase by the public some think it could be the beginning of the new Perestroika. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…there are a lot of questions.

 First, with the offering of 5% – 10% of government owned companies, CANTV, Movilnet, and others (details are sketchy at this point including the percentages) we don’t know what other companies might have shares offered up. Could one of them be government-owned oil company PDVSA? Doubtful but possible.

 Next, does the anti-blockade law apply? Remember that one? Maduro is allowed to sign contracts, nullify laws, and keep separate books (all in the interest of “protecting the people”, of course) without authorization by, or oversight of, the National Assembly.

 It’s also worth remembering that the Chavistas have FONDEN, through which flows 60% of government spending without oversight by the National Assembly. These guys are not known for transparency.

 At this point we don’t know where these shares will be sold. Will it be the BCV, the Caracas stock exchange? If so, there would be some transparency. Or, they could be sold on BPVB, the government exchange primarily dealing in PDVSA debt, which has no transparency.

 We’ll have to see how this plays out. If shares are really available on the “free market” this could be the start of the “New Perestroika” ….or not.

 Then we have the Epoch Times reporting that Elon Musk says Joe Biden must do something about inflation or risk becoming Venezuela. It seems like every time someone wants to cast an economic, social, or political situation in a negative light they use the Venezuela comparison.

 And then we have Telesur (government media) doing a little fear mongering at the behest of Nicolas Maduro. Nico says Colombia has a plan and financing to hire criminals to attack military and police centers and try to socially destabilize Venezuela …again. As usual, we are given no details nor proof.

 Then we have Trend News reporting that oil prices dropped amid hopes for Venezuelan oil supply hitting the market. Have these guys not been paying attention? As we here at TFT have been saying, due to collapsed infrastructure and other reasons, Venezuela, for all intents and purposes, has no oil to sell. Responsible oil analysts, you know, the guys that make a living being mostly right in their observations about the oil industry, believe Venezuela has little or no spare capacity. I know, the Iranians now have a contract to fix the El Palito refinery, currently operating at 50% capacity, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The Chavistas have a track record of failure.

 And we have AA telling us that Venezuela’s VP, Delcy Rodriguez, is already talking like sanctions are lifted. Again, we say “Not so fast!”

 Also on the sanctions front we have Caracas Chronicles reporting two anonymous US Government sources say the recent sanctions relief (Chevron’s ability to negotiate it’s lease with PDVSA, although it can’t drill or export, and the lifting of sanctions on two individuals) are “things that the Unitary Platform (opposition) negotiated and asked for”. The Unitary Platform denies it asked for the lifting of the personal sanctions (like First Lady Cilia Flores).

 And in another sanctions-related item we have, Jorge Rodriguez, demanding that Alex Saab, currently on trial in the US on money laundering charges, participate in any future initiative. Remember, he was named a member of the negotiating team for the Mexico talks with the opposition even though he was in prison. This is pretty  standard strategy for Chavismo. Since sanctions easing is supposedly contingent on successful dialogue between the Maduro regime and the opposition regarding free and fair elections, this demand doesn’t help the process move forward. It does, however, give the Chavistas a reason to walk away from the table…like they did last time… and the time before that… and the time before that…

 Then we have Utopix reporting there were 53 femicides in Venezuela in the 1st quarter of this year, 15 in April.

 And now we know why the hearing for imprisoned journalist, Roland Carreno, only lasted five minutes. The prosecutor and witnesses didn’t show up. I know, in the real world, when prosecuting attorneys and witnesses pull a no show the case is dismissed… but this is Chavismo.

 Then we have the UCAB – Human Rights Center telling us that the “International Cooperation Law” is dangerous in the context where the justice system is used to capriciously persecute NGOs. Isn’t that the point, among other nefarious purposes, of the law?

 We also have WOLA reporting 500 civil society groups issued a joint statement denouncing Maduro’s “International Cooperation Law”, the draft of which is under review and discussion by Maduro’s National Assembly.

 And we have the Observatory of Labor Conflict and Union Management reporting there were 138 conflicts in April. Clearly, the workers are not happy in Maduro’s “workers paradise.”

 And in case you were wondering, the coordinator of the Venezuela Diaspora Observatory confirmed that around 1,400 people are leaving Venezuela daily. The migrant crisis just goes on…and on…and on…

 Then we have the Jamaica Gleaner asking the question, will the Biden administration invite, Juan Guaido, who the US recognizes as the interim President of Venezuela,to the upcoming Summit of the Americas?

 And we have Global Americans telling us that, Mariela Magallanes, is leading a group of Venezuelan women (MDV) from diverse backgrounds committed to a free and democratic Venezuela. She fled Venezuela in December, 2018 after 8 months at the Italian Embassy, to escape persecution by the Maduro regime.

 More tomorrow….

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