Oh So Close

 As I read the first couple of articles we have in today’s news feed I kept thinking about something that happened not so long ago. Here’s the story…

 A few years ago I was up early in the morning doing a little research and thinking about something I had told people many times, that maybe we would wake up one day and find out that in the middle of the night Nicolas Maduro and his wife, First Lady, Cilia Flores, had jumped on a plane and fled Venezuela. It was kinda wishful thinking but nevertheless a possibility.

 The opposition had coalesced behind Juan Guaido, leader of the duly elected 2015 National Assembly, which they won in a landslide. There was widespread unrest and something I had been watching, signs that the military was not pleased with Maduro, seemed to be coming to fruition. The Maduro regime was out of money to buy the loyalty of the military and while the top brass still sided with Maduro, the rank and file were not doing well and their families were starving…and dying. If the leader of the armed forces decided he’d had enough of this and another high ranking Chavista went along with it, the dominoes could fall. It wasn’t really probable but, hey, you never know…

 This was counterbalanced by my neighbor’s opinion that the top Chavistas couldn’t relinquish power due to the crimes they had committed, the looting of the treasury etc., not to mention all the crimes involving Human Rights violations (the killing of innocent civilians by security forces). If they lost power they would likely be imprisoned or killed, Mussolini style. He did though, agree with me that Maduro could probably go to Cuba or Iran and live off his stolen billions.

 Then I got the call. “It’s happening!” my friend said. “Turn on CNN.” He was right, It looked like Guaido along with his mentor, Leopoldo Lopez, who had been imprisoned by Maduro for years on totally false charges, were about to lead a group to topple Maduro, and it appeared that the first military base would soon be in their hands.

 Then I lost CNN…blocked. I found some coverage on BBC, then I lost it…blocked. Then I found some coverage on the business channel, Bloomberg, and then lost it … blocked. The Chavistas were throwing a communications blanket over everything, which made sense to me, as most modern power struggles were about control of two things, the military and the media.,,Could this be a desperate attempt by the Chavistas to prevent people from seeing what was going down and get behind them?

 Well, in a few short hours it was all over…and not in a good way. It’s still unclear to this day exactly what happened but the story goes that Guaido had the backing of the head of the armed forces and the head of the TSJ (Venezuela’s Supreme Court) and when Guaido’s people made their move Maduro was ready to head to the airport. Then, as the story goes, the head of the supreme court, who expected he would be given the reins of power, found out this was not the case. He pulled his support and without judicial cover the head of the armed forces backed out as well…and it all fell apart. The Russians and Cubans told Maduro they were still with him and now, without the imminent threat, he should stay in Miraflores, the presidential palace, and so he did.

 Soon both Lopez and Guaido were nowhere to be found. Lopez is now in Spain and Guaido is still in Venezuela and still engaged in trying to end the Maduro regime through free and fair elections…but for a brief moment…they were Oh So Close!

 Now, let’s get started. Daily Mail reports that a Venezuela opposition group will file a complaint with the Inter- American Court of Human Rights for the attack last weekend on Juan Guaido. The opposition leader claims the attack should be blamed on Nicolas Maduro and that he has photos from the incident showing members of PSUV (Chavista political party) involved in the assault. He has to go outside the country with this as Venezuela has no independent judiciary. Oh, and Chavista leader, Diosdado Cabello, blames the opposition for generating violence.

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles with this headline : “A Symptom Of Venezuela’s Political Climate”. The first paragraph says that Juan Guaido was punched, pushed, and insulted on Saturday, June 11th, while visiting the city of San Carlos, capitol of Cojedes, a former Chavista stronghold, currently ruled by opposition governor, Alberto Galindez. This attack on the man that was recognized as Venezuela’s caretaker president by more than 60 countries and the entire opposition showcased the three main features of his position at the moment: He’s the main target of Nicolas Maduro’s regime; the support he has from the parties and the international community is more discrete (?) ; and his own credibility among the population, even when he suffers violence against him, is dimming.

 OK, so what happened and who did it? The short version is, Guaido was attacked in a restaurant while having lunch and videos show a group, led by Chavista lawmakers, Nesliw Rodriguez, and Marcos Mendoza, storming the restaurant. Ms. Rodriguez has called the opposition “organized crime” and lost the governor’s race to Galindez so she clearly has an axe to grind but a physical attack in a restaurant? Come on!

 The real interesting thing about the story was the response (s). On the Maduro regime side the narrative was that the attackers were from his own former political party (don’t pay any attention to those videos of Ms. Rodriguez) but the narrative didn’t come from PSUV (the Chavistas). It came mostly from public media and pro- regime journalists.

 On the opposition side two reactions were noteworthy. Henrique Capriles, former presidential candidate, condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with Guaido. he’s usually more of an OPPINO (opposition in name only) so it was good to hear him voice some support for Juan Guaido. The other was a non-reaction from one of my favorite opposition leaders, Maria Corina Machado. She said nothing. That’s kinda’ disappointing even if she doesn’t like Juan Guaido (and she doesn’t… thinks he’s weak and ineffective).

 The international reaction was mixed with the US and the OAS (Organization of American States) condemning the attack while the EU (European Union) remained silent along with all the leftist governments in Latin America. What this shows is that although Juan Guaido is still the Maduro regime’s number one target the opposition doesn’t necessarily consider him their number one leader. Their problem is… they don’t have a number one leader.

 Then we have this from Canadian Dimension : “Nicolas Maduro’s Eurasian Tour Is A Victory Lap For The Bolivarian Revolution”. The piece touts Maduro’s “re-engagement” and his announcing “increased ties” with states in North Africa, West Asia, and beyond. It reminded me of former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, touting “all the miles traveled” in pursuit of diplomacy… while she accomplished nothing.

 I guess this guy doesn’t know that trips like this are nothing new for Maduro as he annually goes on a tour to beg for money under the guise of “increasing ties”. This one is no different than all the others. No accomplishments other than meaningless agreements and no money. Oh, and someone should tell him that his claim of 2021 being a year of economic growth for Venezuela is false. The economy grew in the fourth quarter but contracted for the year. He was correct in that 2022 appears to be a year of actual growth…after 8 consecutive years of recession under Maduro and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 Oh, he also loved Maduro’s video address (to whom we have no idea) speaking of his “hope for a new humanity, without imperialist hegemony, without neocolonialism, without neo-liberalism.” Doesn’t he know that Maduro makes a speech like this almost every week?

 And Trend news Agency reported on Maduro’s stop in Azerbaijan for a “working visit”. While there he met with a couple of Deputy Ministers. I feel another “historic, strategic agreement” coming on.

 And News AM reports that the President of Azerbaijan met with Nicolas Maduro via video conference during Maduro’s recent visit. The reason wasn’t a snub, it was because members of  the Venezuela delegation tested positive for Covid-19.

 And we also have the US- DOJ telling us that two Venezuelans pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine and face 10 years in prison.

 Then we have the Miami Herald reporting that the lawyer for the former Venezuela Oil Minister received a 4 year sentence for money laundering.

 And The Real Deal reports that a former government official was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to forfeit his Coral Gables condo for his role in the $1.2 billion embezzlement scheme…sound familiar? This is the 4th person convicted in this case.

 More tomorrow….







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