Going Green...Kinda'

 Caracas Chronicles had a piece on something I guess I just never thought about before. That would be going green in Venezuela. I know Nicolas Maduro likes to show off his newfound “wokeness” and he mentions the need for Venezuela to pursue more “sustainable” energy sources but come on…really…people driving electric vehicles in the country with the world’s largest proven oil reserves? (Although the US is the “Saudi Arabia” of natural gas and the Biden administration seems content to let the industry languish) So, are there any EVs in Venezuela?

 The answer to the question of EV use in Venezuela is…yes…and no. There are less than 1,000 electric vehicles in Venezuela out of about two million cars on the road. That number used to be a lot higher but Chavismo has made car ownership much more difficult than is used to be with car parts too expensive for most Venezuelans (as is everything), if you can find them, and new cars are hard to come by as the Chavistas have destroyed the auto industry.

 The price of electric vehicle is, as you might expect, even more out of reach for the average Venezuelan than internal combustion cars. The price of the Hyundai Kona, listed in the “affordable” class EVs, is about $66,000 in Venezuela versus starting at $21,000 in the US. The Venezuela new car market overall had, for the first half of 2022, 1,899 new cars sold, up 122% from 2021. This is quite a step down for a market that pre-Maduro sold about 500,000 new cars per year. Since 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism destroyed everything else why would they leave the car business unscathed…it’s rhetorical.

 Some EVs sold in Venezuela have 110V or 220V adapters to allow charging in most places but charge time is between 7-15 hours (that’s without blackouts which are constant). VenCharger has installed just one charging dock in Caracas but plans to build more in Caracas and throughout Venezuela. For now the use of the service is free but they say that they’ll have to charge for it in the future. Replacement battery cost is also a headwind with the cost of a  new battery at about $25,000 (more than a new Hyundai Kona in the US). Maintenance/ repair locations, at this point, are scarce so that’s also an issue. With the cost of a new electric motorcycle ranging in price from $450 – $1,700 I would be more optimistic for sales in that market.

 Next up we have Fox News with a piece on Caracas’ Integral Therapy Center Foundation of Venezuela helping 103 children with cerebral palsy through equine therapy. Patients receive guided horseback rides to influence posture, coordination, and muscle movement. It’s not a huge number but people in Venezuela need all the help they can get anywhere they can get it.

 Then we have Havana Times reporting that a group of 118 Venezuelan migrants, upon arriving in Nicaragua, handed their passports over to authorities and were then told they had to pay $150 for a “safe conduct” pass, which doesn’t exist. Those refusing to pay were strip-searched and the $150 was taken from them. Anyone who complained when their passports were returned to them without any stamp or document for “safe passage” was threatened with jail…as if the flight to escape 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism wasn’t challenging enough.

 And we have Reuters reporting that opposition leader and interim President, Juan Guaido, has held several informal meetings with the new government of leftist (Marxist) President, Gustavo Petro, in Colombia. There wasn’t much more on that but some of the background information tells you a lot about the difference between Juan Guaido and the “caretaker government” and Nicolas Maduro and the Chavista regime.

 First is the situation with CITGO, the only remaining asset of parent company PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) really worth anything. Guaido and his team have actively engaged both the US government and CITGO bondholders of it’s defaulted debt attempting to preserve whatever they can for the people of Venezuela. (Remember, it was Chavismo that destroyed PDVSA and defaulted on the CITGO bonds)  Maduro, on the other hand, is openly antagonistic to the US government and other than offering the bondholders new “investment opportunities” (I know, you can’t make this stuff up) has done almost nothing to restructure the debt. Remember, when Venezuela defaulted on the bonds the guy Maduro put in charge of restructuring the debt, you know… working out a deal with the bondholders, was prohibited by US sanctions from talking to the bond holders (again, you can’t make this stuff up).

 You also have the differences over dialogue in Mexico between the opposition and the Maduro regime. Juan Guaido and his team want the talks to move forward, even though, as a concession to the Chavistas, Juan Guaido is not a part of it, while Maduro and his camp have walked away twice (and that’s just this go- round). The first time was when disgraced businessman Alex Saab, the architect of Maduro’s fraudulent financial schemes, was extradited to the US and the Chavistas threw a temper tantrum saying the talks wouldn’t resume until Saab was freed (a stance they backed away from when they were talking to the Biden administration about sanctions relief). Now they have done the “petulant child” thing again over the “Mystery Plane” in Argentina saying there will be no talks with the opposition until the plane is returned to Venezuela. How’s that for engagement?

 And we have the New York Times (I avoid them as much as possible for actual news as they have a history of lying and distorting the truth going back to World War Two) telling us that it looks like Dominion, the parent company of Smartmatic (the voting machine guys that always seem to be mired in controversy) may soon have it’s day in court in it’s $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox. The suit centers around allegations that the Venezuela company was a front for the communist government in Venezuela and that the voting machines could alter votes. The two sides have been unable to reach a deal.

 And speaking of court cases, we have a piece from the Kluwer Arbitration Blog. I had to laugh after reading the legal analysis of the anti-injunction case involving a ship owner, an insurance company, and the Venezuela government (Maduro regime). Quick refresher…in early 2020 the Venezuela Navy tried to intercept a cruise liner, the Resolute, which is an ice-classed cruise liner. When the Captain  refused to cooperate with the Venezuela Navy (no probable cause…potential shake-down…etc.) the Venezuela Naval vessel attempted to ram the Resolute and was itself sunk in the process. So, the Chavistas filed suit against the owner of the ship and the insurance company. After wading through a whole bunch of legalese I came up with this… The judge said No!

 Then we have Investing.com telling us that the Venezuela inflation rate dropped on a month to month basis to a rate of 7.5%, down from 11.4% in June. The inflation rate for the year came in at 137% versus the BCV (Venezuela Central Bank) figure of 48%.

 More tomorrow….

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