Love For Jorge

 Those that have been with us a while are familiar with Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos. We told you about his rare invitation to the Miraflores presidential palace to interview Nicolas Maduro. My guess is that Maduro figured since Ramos  was no fan of US President Donald Trump the interview was safe and he would just get some softball questions allowing him to spread his Chavista propaganda. It was a miscalculation, to say the least.

 When Maduro denied that people were starving in Venezuela Ramos confronted him with a video on his ipad showing Venezuelans digging through the back of a garbage truck for food. In true Chavista temper tantrum fashion Maduro stormed out of the room, Ramos and his crew had their equipment and devices confiscated, and were thrown out of the palace and then the country. Ramos referred to the dust-up as “My best interview no one will ever see.” Four months later the ipad surfaced and the interview went public. It was a sensation.

 Now don’t get me wrong here. I’ve followed Jorge’s work for a long time and have disagreed with his position on many things. One item never up for debate was his integrity. He sticks to his beliefs. Well, I’ve gotta’ send out a little love for Jorge. He did a piece for Univision titled “The Danger Of Coddling Dictators” that was an excellent essay on something that I consider, but many don’t, a black and white issue.

 He states, and I concur, “It’s easy to define the right side of history. It’s always on the side of democracy, justice, freedom, and the defense of Human Rights. To coddle dictators – like the ones in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela is not part of it…brutal dictatorships that jail and abuse millions of people in 2022…To coddle, protect,and speak on behalf of the dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, like president AMLO (President of Mexico) has done is a mistake…AMLO had the choice : the dictators or his own people. And he opted for the strong, for the abusers…The old and uneven claim that Mexico does not meddle in the internal affairs of other countries pales before the guiding principle that Human Rights are always – always – above any concept of sovereignty. Life comes first.”

 China uses the same “We don’t meddle in the internal affairs” excuse to tacitly, or directly, support dictators. Here’s an alarming statistic.The number of dictatorships in the world is up while the number of liberal democracies is down, from 42 in 2012 to  34 in 2021. This equates to 5.4 billion people living under tyrannies or authoritarian governments.

 There is an existence of an anti-democracy bloc. The argument that isolating dictatorships doesn’t generate change in their countries is valid, but the strategy that more contacts, tourism, and investment could lead to democratic transformation has failed, specifically with Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. All sorts of concessions and negotiations have moved these countries no closer to democracy. He quotes Timothy Snyder, “The biggest part of the power of authoritarian regimes is surrendered voluntarily.”

 Towards the close of his piece Jorge says “There is nothing more shameful and humiliating than to speak up for dictators and defend them in public. I don’t understand why Lopez Obrador is doing the dirty work of the worst rulers in the hemisphere. He chose the wrong side of history.” As I previously stated, I don’t always agree with Jorge but on this one I’m with him 100%. Good on ya’ Jorge!

 Then we have La Prensa Latina reporting that Venezuela health workers protested in front of IVSS ( administrative agency for the public health network) …again…saying Maduro is failing to meet contractual obligations.

 And in the good news category we have Digital Journal reporting that Venezuela imports of farming and food products was up 31% in 2021 over 2020. The bad news is that the new number of $2.4 billion is way…way below the 2008 peak of $38 billion.

 Then we have Deccan Chronicles telling us that the India External Affairs Minister is whining, “The West has squeezed every source of oil India had access to earlier including from Iran and Venezuela.” He feels that there is no reason why India can’t buy oil at competitive prices from countries, including Russia.

 And we have Reuters reporting that the US State department will allow Eni (Italy) and Repsol (Spain) to resume oil for debt shipments from Venezuela to Europe… with the caveat oil can only go to Europe and not elsewhere.

 And in a related piece we have telling us that the US allowing Eni and Repsol to ship oil from Venezuela to Europe in return for debt relief may not help Europe much as refineries need special configuration to process Venezuela’s extra- heavy crude. We would add that there really isn’t any excess capacity.

 Then we have Maritime Bulletin reporting that a tanker en route from Dominican Republic to Venezuela sank over a week ago.Two crew members are missing and, to date, the cargo is unknown, as is the origin of the resulting oil slick. It could be cargo or residue or bunker fuel…?

 More tomorrow….

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