Making A Statement

 First up today we have something that isn’t really big news but it’s a great example of a major shortcoming of Nicolas Maduro and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. Merco Press reports that Maduro picked a career military man with ties to Emtrasur (You know, the “Mystery Flight” guys) as ambassador to Iran. Maduro is also sending new ambassadors to 6 other countries, however, we have no information if these other choices are similarly lacking in diplomatic credentials.

 Maduro’s appointments have more to do with making a statement than ability to do a job.As we’ve mentioned previously, he appointed Tareck El Aissami as the point man for restructuring Venezuela’s debt even though he was prohibited by sanctions from talking to the bond holders…you know…the guys you have to talk to if you’re going to restructure debt. Oh, and don’t forget that shortly after taking power he appointed Maikel Moreno, a convicted murderer, as head of TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court).

 I’m reminded of a scene from the outstanding mini-series on HBO “Chernobyl”. A scientist, trying to draw attention to the seriousness of the problem at Chernobyl was talking to the head of nuclear energy for the USSR, who was buying the party line that the melt-down was “no big deal” and that everything was under control. When she said that he didn’t really have much expertise in this area to make an evaluation, as he worked in a shoe factory prior to his current position as head of the USSR’s nuclear program, his response was quintessential Soviet, Maduro…”I may have worked in a shoe factory…but now I’m in charge…Here’s to the workers of the world”. need I say more?

 And speaking of Emtrasur, we have The Wilson Center telling us that Richard Sanders, former member of the Senior Foreign Service of the US State Department, is calling for the investigation into the Emtrasur Boeing 747 cargo flight (we’ve been watching this unfold for weeks now) should continue regardless of the status of the plane or crew in Argentina.

 And then we have Caracas Chronicles asking the question we wondered about when Maduro first announced his creation of ZEEs, special economic zones with tax breaks and other incentives to lure investors to Venezuela…Who would these investors be? In short, “tolerant to high risks”.

 If Maduro’s “Anti Blockade Law” applies, which is likely, we can assume it will be difficult to access information about the public and private participation in these projects. I guess that leaves us with a situation where the success or failure of these projects will be subject to the whims of Nicolas Maduro and we won’t have many details. Sounds pretty much like everything else under 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 Then we have The Peninsula reporting that the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar met with Maduro’s Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez, regarding ways to encourage business partnerships between both countries. He also met with Venezuela’s Foreign Minister. Are these guys “risk tolerant” enough to give ZEE a try?

 And we have Argus Media telling us that Repsol (Spanish oil company) CEO confirms 3 million barrels of Venezuela crude oil will be arriving shortly at Spanish terminals. This is part of the Biden administration’s relaxation of sanctions allowing shipments of Venezuelan oil to Europe in return for debt reduction.

 And we have Atlantic Council with a piece detailing how sanctions complicate the functions of “Bretton-Woods Institutions” ie; IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank. They referenced Venezuela and Iran, however, I’m not sure Venezuela should even be in the conversation. Despite Nicolas Maduro’s bemoaning lack of access to IMF and World Bank funds due to sanctions, the choice to not be involved in dealings with the two institutions was made by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, years ago in his campaign against “capitalists and imperialist oligarchs”, which has been continued by Maduro. I guess when you don’t need their money institutions like the IMF and World Bank are “evil capitalists” but it’s a different story when you need a loan.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that a Delaware judge denied Venezuela’s request to organize a new sales process “from scratch” on the sale of CITGO shares. This is the latest failure in Venezuela’s delaying tactics to avoid paying creditors using shares of CITGO, which is basically PDVSA’s (Venezuela government-owned oil company and parent company of CITGO) last remaining valuable asset.

 And we have Rio Times telling us what everyone already knew. Venezuela and Colombia have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations at the ambassador level when Colombia President, Gustavo Petro, takes office on August 7th.

 Then we have Havana Times reporting 13 Venezuela migrants were killed in Nicaragua in a bus accident as they traveled North to Honduras to head to the US southern border. Just another sad tale of those fleeing the regime of Nicolas Maduro.

 And in a blow to Chavismo’s quest for money, Reuters reports that London’s High Court  has rejected Maduro’s claim to between $1 billion – $2 billion in gold (31 tons) being held by the BOE (Bank Of England). The judge upheld a lower court ruling giving control of the gold to a board appointed by Juan Guaido, recognized by Great Brittan as Venezuela’s legitimate President. Maduro’s Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez, says Venezuela needs the gold to address the pandemic and other healthcare issues. I guess they can’t use any of the $9 billion they earn from illegal trafficking?

 Then we have OCCRP telling us that the family of Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, wanted in the US for drug trafficking (not to mention money laundering, bribery, etc.) has acquired two luxury apartments in Barcelona. Martin is a former high-ranking intelligence officer under Hugo Chavez with ties to Venezuela’s number two man (and, as we always say, maybe number one)  Diosdado Cabello. After Interpol issued a “Red Notice” for his arrest he turned himself in to Venezuelan authorities knowing he would not be extradited. The details and status of his legal situation in Venezuela may be unknown but, according to former Venezuela police commissioner and criminal investigator, Ivan Simonovis, he’s still taking care of business in Caracas.

 And we have National Interest telling us that Russia is the main weapons supplier for both Venezuela and Nicaragua (don’t forget about Cuba). Venezuela owes at least $10 billion to Russia for fighter jets. Russia has sold over $9 billion in other military equipment to Venezuela including SAMs (surface to air missile systems), MANPADs (hand-held missiles), tanks, helicopters, and more. Venezuela’s military is purely for internal control. Despite claims to the contrary, there are no external threats.

 Then we have CPB (again) telling us that PCV (Venezuela Communist Party) is experiencing a “witch hunt” in it’s “class struggle”. They cited six examples of persecution (over seven years). They contend that the Venezuela government is unable to accept leftist criticism. (Don’t take it personally. They, the Chavistas, hate the right and center as well…pretty much everyone that isn’t Chavista) I find it interesting that as much as the Communist Party criticizes the Chavistas, if you redacted the names and party affiliations in their statements, the Chavistas and the Communist Party sound pretty much the same.

 More tomorrow….

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