Not Just Another Guy

 We’ve told you previously about the murder of an indigenous man in Amazonas state. The Guardian reports that the murder of indigenous leader, Virgilio Trujillo, coordinator of the Indigenous Territorial Guard, has struck fear into many in his community and some are receiving death threats.

 In the last 8 years, 32 indigenous and environmental leaders have been killed in Venezuela but this was not just another guy. He was a true leader of his people and had worked alongside army units to protect indigenous lands. After a series of death threats he applied to the Interior Ministry for protection but his requests went unanswered. His death exposes the fact that the struggle of indigenous peoples has largely been forgotten by the Maduro regime (but not us here at TFT) and the judiciary fails to investigate and hold those responsible accountable.

 Then we have Havana Times telling us that as of June,20th, Venezuela had 239 political prisoners, many subjected to physical and psychological torture, verbal abuse, limited water and food, deprivation of medical attention, solitary confinement in punishment cells, and beatings following the same pattern as Cuba and Nicaragua. The Director of the Inter-American Institute for Democracy says the courts in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua order arbitrary detention and sentence innocent people to many years in prison to strike fear into the population. Of the 239 political prisoners in Venezuela, 223 are men and 16 are women. 109 are civilians and 130 are military, 238 are adults and 1 is an adolescent.

 And we have Reuters reporting that the US OFAC (Office of Financial Asset Control) Treasury Department (The “sanctions control” guys) authorized exports to Venezuela of LPG. Venezuela’s problem is that despite sitting on top of the world’s largest prove oil reserves they can’t even produce enough LPG for domestic use, mainly cooking, so Venezuelans are chopping down trees to get wood for cooking fires adding to it’s rapidly growing deforestation problem. (When the majority of households use LPG for cooking it’s a big problem) They need all the LPG they can get, however, Venezuela is not allowed to do oil for LPG swap deals, they have to pay for it.

 Then we have La Prensa Latina reporting that Venezuela is showing signs of an incipient recovery. Inflation for the first half of 2022 came in at 53.8% (after 4 years of hyperinflation…not bad). Oil production ranged between 735,000 bpd (barrels per day) and 775,000 bpd (a long way from Maduro’s goal of 2 million bpd by the end of the year). The minimum wage, once again, is a sad joke. After a 1,705% increase to get it UP to $28 a month, it has fallen back to $23.40 a month. Two things to remember…First is the UN standard for extreme poverty is a dollar a day or less. The second is that as bad as it is, just a few years ago the minimum wage was an unbelievably low 60 cents a month (not a day…a month!). The Economic Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean expects GDP to rise 5% this year. So, that’s your snapshot of the Venezuela economy.

 We told you about the Florida gubernatorial candidates and others calling for Biden to extend TPS (Temporary Protected Status) to Venezuelan migrants, as he did over a year ago. Well, we have the Daily Mail reporting that Grandpa has heard the call and extended TPS for Venezuelan migrants for over another year. Now the bad news …it only applies to those who were in the country when he initially issued TPS protection, over a year ago, not for recent arrivals. This leaves out more than 100,000 Venezuelan migrants.  The administration says they did this because they don’t want to encourage illegal immigration. Really?

Then we have The Globe and Mail telling us that Venezuelan authorities say they are investigating the killing of indigenous leader, Virgilio Trujillo, and have sent a group of detectives to the remote area. Is this one of those “They only investigate things that go viral on social media” kinda’ deals?

 And we have Jamaica Gleaner telling us that the Saint Vincent Prime Minister is urging CARICOM (Caribbean Island Nations) to restore Petro Caribe and says Maduro is open to the idea. When Chavez started Petro Caribe, Venezuela sent monthly allocations of oil and/or oil products to all members with extremely beneficial financial terms (some with no down payment and others with very minimal upfront cost and as much as 20 years to pay). Petro Caribe also provided financing for various projects and social initiatives in various countries in return for political support for Chavismo. People in the international community, and obviously all the CARICOM countries, still have this romanticized notion of Chavismo being the “Glorious Revolution” of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism, not the brutally repressive, financially insolvent, narco- dictatorship that it is. So now Venezuela (Maduro), as well as the former member countries of Petro Caribe, say they want to do the same thing again…uhh…only this time with no oil (the Chavistas destroyed Venezuela’s production capacity) and no money. What a great idea!

 Then we have La Prensa Latina telling us that the upcoming full reopening of the Venezuela/Colombia border, which should take place in August, is expected to boost trade by 300%. Those living in the border areas, and all of Venezuela for that matter, need all the help they can get.

 And CGTN tells us that deforestation is a problem in Venezuela’s Sierra Nevada National Park, as it is in much of the country, due to, as previously mentioned, people cutting down trees for firewood since they can’t get cooking gas. It’s not just in a few areas…it’s everywhere!

 Then we have Reuters reporting that US refiner Citgo Petroleum is ready to accept and process oil shipments from Venezuela and PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company), it’s parent company, if allowed by sanctions relief. The Biden administration authorized oil shipments for Eni (Italy) and Repsol (Spain) to relieve, at least a little, the European energy crisis. He might allow PDVSA shipments to Citgo but,and this is the cynic in me talking, only if it’s made clear to everyone and their brother that Citgo is owned by PDVSA so it’s not really a US oil company. Biden’s policy seems to be that he wants to be seen as doing something to lower oil/gasoline prices but WILL NOT HELP US OIL COMPANIES!! With the right PR campaign a deal might be possible.

 More tomorrow….

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