"Brand" New

 Caracas Chronicles did a piece titled “The Brands Of “The Revolution”. It gives a little insight to something I observed while living in Venezuela and how things are changing. Venezuela producers of consumer goods are having a hard time competing with imports allowed by the Maduro regime both because of the tax waiver on imports and the prevalence of knock-offs.

 For instance, Head & Shoulders shampoo costs between $6 and $9 while Hoed & Shoulders shampoo, with the same packaging, just the minor spelling change, costs $3. In most cases, these products haven’t passed quality and sanitary standards required of the conventionally registered items, but are still allowed by the Chavistas.

 Some enter through the ports and others are smuggled on routes originating in China, then shipped to Mexico, then Colombia, and finally to Venezuela…like the shipment of contaminated toothpaste a couple of years ago…it looked like Colgate so it must be OK…right?

 The Chavistas show the same disdain for public health concerns in consumer goods that they show for the environment in Maduro’s “Mining Arc”, where high levels of mercury are poisoning rivers and killing indigenous peoples.

 Then there are the domestically produced knock-offs, like Kellogs cereals, no longer produced by Kellogs, who left Venezuela in 2018 after 60 years doing business in Venezuela…but now produced by the Chavistas without the rigid inspection protocols of a company like Kellogs. It’s a whole lot cheaper to ignore how something is produced or where ingredients come from.

 There are currently over 60 lawsuits in various courts against Venezuela for allowing these marketing practices. You can also see these types of products in the CLAP food boxes (Maduro’s fraudulent food program to deliver monthly food boxes to those in need). Many of them are from Turkey (after Maduro’s fraudulent scheme was discovered by ArmandoInfo and they closed up shop in Mexico and relocated to Turkey) with the common denominators of low quality and items past their expiration dates. In the corrupt world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism these practices are unlikely to change any time soon.

 Then we have CNN reporting that the US delegation that traveled to Venezuela to secure the release of detained Americans was unable to do so. US Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Roger Carstens, was able to meet with Americans the US considers unlawfully detained but failed to secure the release of any of them. Skeptics (me) may think the US delegation simply didn’t offer the Maduro regime anything they wanted. They’ll just wait until Biden weakens…and he will.

 And we have Law 360 reporting that PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) looks to block Conoco Phillips’ asset seizure saying sanctions must be lifted first. All previous attempts by PDVSA to delay the process have failed.

 And we have Splash 247 telling us that French broker BRS says the “Shadow Tanker Fleet”, those linked to carrying illicit oil shipments, primarily from Iran and Venezuela, is expected to grow from 268 to 401 vessels this year, adding tankers carrying Russian oil.

 Then we have City Journal telling us that the US should make it easier for Latin Americans fleeing socialism (Venezuela and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism comes to mind) to enter the US legally. Legal migrants from Latin American leftist countries become conservative voters in the US since they’ve seen, up close and personal, the damage socialism does to countries.

 Is Colombia’s election of leftist (Marxist) Gustavo Petro a wake-up call? When Hugo Chavez took power in Venezuela, Venezuelans said “Venezuela isn’t Cuba”, in response to fears that Chavez, a Marxist, would transform Venezuela. Chavismo made Venezuela worse than Cuba, which nobody thought was possible. Now, with a Marxist taking power in Colombia, Colombians are saying “Colombia isn’t Venezuela” in response to fears Petro will transform Colombia. (Is there an echo in here?)

 And in our daily snippet regarding the “mystery flight”, detained in Argentina for a month now, we have BA Times telling us that Paraguayan President, Mario Abdo Benitez, commended Paraguayan intelligence for a “great job in determining the dangerousness (is that a word?) of that flight” referring to the Boeing 747 cargo flight and it’s crew of 14 Venezuelans and 5 Iranians. He went on to claim that one crew member had traveled to Cuba for cosmetic surgery to “change his face”.

  Then we have Bitcoin.com telling us that cryptocurrency exchange Coincoinx will launch a cryptocurrency to fiat payments app in Venezuela. The new service called Coinpaygo will allow customers to bypass trading their cryptocurrency to make fiat-based payments using the Pagomovil service. Anything that helps Venezuelans survive their economic nightmare (and overall nightmare) is a good thing.

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles giving us the status of the primary elections by Venezuela opposition’s Unitary Platform. There is an opportunity, as evidenced by the regional elections in November. It was the first time PSUV (the Chavistas) failed to secure 4 million votes and the first time there were actually more votes against them, although they did win most of the elections.

 That said, there are no clear candidates or leaders to represent a population clearly unhappy with PSUV’s governance. There is all kinds of infighting  between and within the numerous opposition parties. There are parties co-opted by the Chavistas with leadership installed by TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) who are more “Maduro friendly”. CNE (electoral council), although it now has 2 of 5 board seats occupied by “opposition” members, one of the two is an “OPPINO”, opposition in name only, is still controlled by the Chavistas who maintain a 3 to 2 majority.

 Through the means of government surveillance, exile, and political prisoners the Maduro regime has fragmented the opposition. They can’t agree on structure for the primaries, leadership, or whether or not to involve the CNE which many say would just add to the prevailing distrust.

 There will be a National Primaries Commission made up of “respected actors” from civil society but there is no list of who these people might be that will address all the major issues facing the opposition and their primaries.

 They may even seek international assistance from countries like Norway or Mexico (sound like the Maduro regime – opposition talks to you?) No one has said exactly what they want or how they would do it regarding the structure of the primaries. In short..It’s a mess!

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with more of the latest from the dystopian world of Chavismo.

 Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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