Sparking Instability

 There was a piece in that made me think a bit titled “How Hezbollah Is Sparking Instability In Latin America”. Back before September 11,2001 terrorism was pretty much something that happened elsewhere, the Middle East, or maybe Europe. Now we know it can happen anywhere.

 Countries with weak governments and deep-rooted socioeconomic inequality are an ideal climate for organized crime and terrorist organizations to thrive. For all it’s ideological bluster and repression the Maduro regime is essentially weak, ceding vast swaths of the economy and territorial control to the military, organized crime, paramilitary (FARC and ELN dissidents) groups, and now allows Hezbollah to operate freely.

 Iran’s government is the chief backer of Hezbollah (hence the #1 state sponsor of terrorism label) and is helping the Maduro regime stay afloat. Hezbollah’s chief sources of revenue are their ties to drug trafficking and money laundering. Maduro’s financial desperation has led Hezbollah to establish a sizeable footprint in Venezuela in return for revenue sharing from Hezbollah’s illicit operations.

 They have spread from their flourishing operations in Venezuela to Colombia (the primary cocaine source) and have carried out operations in Paraguay and Honduras in recent years and even in Argentina as far back as 1994. Nobody other than the US and,to a degree, Colombia seem particularly worried about their expanding presence in the region. Until the power of Hezbollah (Iran’s proxy) and other illegal armed groups is curbed and eradicated considerable uncertainty and risk will continue to weigh on Latin America’s economic development, foreign investment, and the region’s economically crucial oil business.

 Then we have MP with an anti-US propaganda piece saying that the Maduro regime’s 5% – 10% sale of shares in Venezuela government-owned companies is tied to sanctions easing. (not even Maduro has said that) They also went on to tell us that PSUV (Chavista political party) is united and won the November elections by a landslide, which is mostly true. But then they had to mention that said elections were monitored by the EU, supposedly lending credibility to the elections. What they didn’t say was that the EU monitors widely condemned the elections as neither free nor fair. I have to give them credit for one point though. They said that the Biden administration tacitly acknowledged Nicolas Maduro is the real leader (they didn’t say “elected president”) of Venezuela by sending a delegation to Caracas to meet with him.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that individuals and companies doing business with the Venezuela government will not be allowed DOD (Department Of Defense) contracts. I thought that was a given.

 And we have Telesur (government media) telling us that the Venezuela Ambassador to the UN addressed Maduro’s National Assembly saying Venezuela was facing a second war for independence and the US is involved in plans to destabilize Venezuela and assassinate Nicolas Maduro.

 Telesur also tells us that VP, Delcy Rodriguez, vows to increase Venezuela’s cooperation with the Eurasian nations. She said this in an address to the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union). I didn’t even know they had one.

 And we have Caracas Chronicles reporting that Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s second most powerful figure (some say the most powerful), says “The state can’t do everything.” Hmmm…that’s a bit of a reversal from the Chavista’s standard socialist/ Marxist dogma. It’s nice to hear him actually admit it.

 They also said that it’s expected that whoever wins the presidential election in Colombia will establish diplomatic relations with the Maduro regime. I know it’s likely to happen but I’m not in favor of anything that lends any credibility to Nicolas Maduro.

 Then we have CONVITE reporting that 87% of Venezuela seniors live in extreme poverty (national rate – 76%) due to many of the reasons we’ve detailed here including poor pensions and the collapsed healthcare system.

 And Utopix tells us that four women are murdered in Venezuela every day. With Venezuela’s murder rate, year in and year out, being among the highest in the world, I would have thought the number would be even higher.

 Then we have the Venezuela Observatory of Prisons reporting there are 13 political prisoners with cases where judges have ordered their release and they’re still detained.

 And we have political party Copei announcing they will hold elections for “lower ranks” for the first time in 76 years.

 And Insight Crime had a good article (they have a lot of them) on the resurgence of gang violence in Venezuela. Four months after Venezuela security forces killed “Public Enemy #1 El Koki” in Caracas it appears that two of his former lieutenants are escalating the violence in Cota 905. Two grenade attacks on police stations were reported recently.

 El Koki and his criminal gang were allowed to grow in power due to another of Maduro’s “brilliant ideas”, the creation of “Peace Zones” where police and security forces would withdraw from an area or neighborhood and cede peacekeeping duties to gangs in return for allowing their criminal operations free rein. (What could possibly go wrong?)

 El Koki’s fiefdom grew in size and scope from 2014, the start of the “Peace Zone” plan, through 2020 until El Koki overstepped his bounds and encroached on the headquarters of Maduro’s security forces leading to the “slap-down” and eventual killing of El Koki.

 Following the Chavista playbook, the regime made a big show of force for a while and then things reverted to the way they were before, at least it appears that way. One resident told Insight Crime “The police are not even protecting their own stations.”

 Then we have La Prensa Latina telling us that Maduro has claimed double digit growth for the economy on the first quarter although he didn’t mention a specific number. The Venezuela Observatory Of Finance reports the number at 7.8% growth, year over year, and predicts 8% growth for 2022. They also reported that according to OPEC the Venezuela oil production numbers for the first quarter averaged 756,000 bpd (barrels per day). After you take out the oil sent to Cuba and China and cover domestic consumption, none of which produce revenue, there isn’t much left.

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with more tales from Nicolas Maduro’s “socialist paradise”.

 Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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