"Nicolas The Capitalist"
Our friends at Caracas Chronicles do some great work. First they gave us “Nicolas The Woke”, about Nicolas Maduro trying to pass himself off as a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, despite his history of homophobic comments etc. Now they bring us “Nicolas The Capitalist”.Maduro is trying to lure investment to Venezuela and is presenting what a great place it is to do business, especially in light of his new law. I guess his whirlwind global tour didn’t produce much other than all those “historic, strategic agreements”, which amounted to basically nothing, at least as far as actual investment goes.
Venezuela’s TSJ (Supreme Court) has declared the constitutionality of Maduro’s new Law for Special Economic Zones (ZEEs), approved by Maduro’s National Assembly (what a surprise). It was created to attract new investments and increase export volume. Despite his Marxist ideology and constant bashing of capitalism, he would have us believe that he’s had a “Come to Jesus” moment and will transform the world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism into a mecca for investors (those same “greedy capitalists” he and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have been denouncing for over two decades now, as they expropriated their businesses in record numbers leading to lawsuits all over the world to receive restitution for seized assets). The basics are as follows:
1/ Creating the special areas is exclusively up to the President. He appoints the Superintendent (at least he didn’t say “Minister”),the board, and authorities in each area. In other words, he can do what he wants, where he wants, with whomever he wants. This brings to mind two questions. First, how is this any different from everything he does all the time? Second, once he establishes one of these ZEEs can he change his mind and shut it down? That was rhetorical…of course he can.
2/ ZEEs will be areas of free exchange so they can use other currencies such as Euros, dollars, or rubles (yes, they actually reference rubles) which appears to exempt them from his new Foreign Currency/Cryptocurrency Tax (you know, the one that’s been in force for months and is causing all that chaos since they haven’t really worked out all the details). Can he decide which currencies are allowed and which aren’t? That was rhetorical…of course he can.
3/ ZEEs can be established to promote any industrial activity they want. Even banks can be part of ZEEs. If he approves of an activity, company, or bank and then changes his mind can he throw them out? That was rhetorical…of course he can.
4/ Companies operating in ZEEs get incentives like tax benefits and inclusion in the catalog of touristic investments. If Maduro gets disenchanted with a company in one of these ZEEs can he withdraw their tax benefits? That was rhetorical…of course he can.
Marxist ideology aficionados like Maduro fail to grasp the importance of something like the rule of law, of which Venezuela has none. There is no independent judiciary, although Maduro did just appoint a new head of the TSJ to replace Maikel Moreno, the convicted murderer. The problem is that the new head of the TSJ was Moreno’s predecessor and she presided over a TSJ that reviewed thousands of cases and petitions. The number of rulings against Chavismo…ZERO! Caveat Emptor. Remember, when Alice was “down the rabbit hole” she responded to the allegation that she was insane with the question, “Why would you say that?” The reply was, “Well, you’re here aren’t you?” (I know…I was there for 12 years…but that’s another story)
In a follow-up to an earlier story regarding the arrest of 2 members of political party Bandera Roja …the plot thickens…(or expands…or something like that). Humanitarian worker, Gabriel Blanco, was arrested and charged with terrorism and association to commit crimes (said the warrant). The same judge that signed the warrant is keeping Alcides Brach (arrested the other day) under arrest. The regime hasn’t explained what appears to be political persecution, with the latest arrest and the two prior arrests. Today’s arrestee(?) hasn’t been a member of Bandera Roja in 5 years but something’s going on. Authorities also arrested a fourth Bandera Roja member as well as the wife of Jose Castro, who was arrested in lieu of her husband. Can you do that? That was rhetorical…of course you can. We’ll keep you posted.
In another typically confusing story we have aka Ivan Marquez. The FARC dissident leader has been confirmed shot in Venezuela (FARC dissidents openly operate in Venezuela to escape Colombian authorities), then confirmed killed, then confirmed to be in an ICU in Caracas. Now we have Maduro’s Communications Minister saying the government doesn’t know the whereabouts of aka Ivan Marquez so they can’t confirm or deny his death or if he’s wounded in Caracas.
Then we have the president of the Anzoategui Association of Cattle Farmers and Agro Producers says the diesel shortage will continue to hurt crops (as it has for years).
And the UN and CAF (development bank) agreed to support Venezuela’s socioeconomic recovery to improve the population’s quality of life, working on development and food insecurity in addition to recovering and reestablishing basic services. So, they’re going to help Venezuelans get food, power, and water… good to know.
Then we have the UK demanding release of Human Rights activist and head of Fundaredes, Javier Tarazona, arrested over a year ago
And we have Caracas Chronicles also reporting that 10 indigenous associations haven’t received an answer from the Public Ministry regarding requests for protection. They’ve asked the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ombudsman’s Office, and ZODI N63 (civic/ military organization) to investigate the murder of indigenous leader, Virgilio Trujillo, and demanded the UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) force the government to guarantee protection of ancestral lands. Good luck with that as protection of their ancestral lands is already guaranteed by The Constitution. (You know…that document to which the Chavistas and Maduro pay no attention)
Then we have Daily Mail telling us that Venezuelan authorities have charged 12 people with the murder of a Marxist scholar, including his wife, who allegedly paid a hit man $8,000, in 2020.
And we have Nasdaq reporting that Venezuela’s largest refinery has restarted it’s cat- cracking (gasoline making) unit. Since this refinery supplies 80% of Venezuela’s domestic gasoline needs it’s a big deal. The problem is that the unit is only operating at 50% capacity (when it’s operating).
That will do it for the week. We’ll be back with more third world dispatches on Monday. Until then….Have a great weekend everybody!!!!
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