Energizer Migrants

 Almost quietly, the number of Venezuelan migrants grows every day, rapidly approaching the spot for the most migrants in the world, currently held by Syria with about 7,000. As we’ve said before, the story of the Syrian migrants is more “newsworthy” since they’ve been in a state of civil war for a long time which has led to the Syrian migrants getting a lot of attention, and a whole lot more money from the international community, like 10 times what is spent on Venezuela migrants. That said, Caracas Chronicles tells us that during the 1st 7 months of this year 44,943 Venezuelans crossed the Darien Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant crossings in the world, to head north through Central America, then Mexico, and on to the US southern border.

 Rio Times reports that the UN has new numbers for migration around the world. Venezuela now has 6.81 million (and counting). The number one spot isn’t far off, and yet nobody’s really paying attention. The regime of Bashar Assad in Syria is blowing people up and shooting them. The regime of Nicolas Maduro is starving people to death and shooting them (at an average rate of 1,400 extrajudicial killings per year since he took office in 2013). The world seems to be re-engaging with Maduro lately, applauding Venezuela’s apparent economic recovery after 8 consecutive years of Chavismo- induced (Maduro- induced) recession. Let’s not lose sight of who he really is, and make no mistake about it, he’s a really bad guy, a brutal dictator, no less so than Bashar Assad.

 Caracas Chronicles also tells us that Nicolas Maduro requested Venezuela business people (yes, he talks to them these days) lobby US institutions to lift sanctions. He said sanctions “”shook” the Venezuela economy and made the regime establish a “war footing”, which is a lie. (Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, destroyed the Venezuela economy for the present as well as the future) He also announced a “Market of Iranian economy” and exhorted businesses to export to China, Russia, Iran, and India. He also vowed to bring inflation down to single digits (currently at between 155% – 170%). In my 30 years of traveling to and living in Venezuela I never saw inflation under 25%.

 In some good news Nicolas announced “The law of fair prices has died”, which means less price controls which means less shortages. The problem is that right now the people of Venezuela are faced more with an affordability problem (the minimum wage is currently under $14 a month) than an availability problem.

 And to nobody’s surprise, the Maduro regime “emphatically rejects” the $8.5 billion ($8.7 billion?) ruling confirming Conoco Phillips award because it “hurts the patrimony of all Venezuelans”. Funny, they weren’t worried about that when Chavismo seized the company’s assets in 2007. Quick flashback…Around that time I saw a Hugo Chavez rally from Caracas on TV. He pointed to a building across the square and shouted “Who owns that building? We’re taking it for the Revolution!” Everybody cheered…no patrimony worries.

 Then we have Cepal increasing it’s regional growth rate estimate from 1.8% to 2.7%. This may be a reflection of Venezuela’s apparent economic rebound.

 And we have Esteban Trapiello, Venezuelan businessman tied to the Maduro regime, issuing a statement denying the Holocaust and asking why Hitler didn’t “finish the job”. This should be received well by Maduro’s new BFFs in Iran.

 And we have the lawyer for former Treasurer and Chavez’s millionaire nurse, Claudia Diaz Guillen, saying that the US government is blocking her access to information and defense preparation for her trial, scheduled to begin in October. No mention of her husband who is also awaiting trial.

 Then we have Americas Quarterly touching on something we talked about the other day (and talk about all the time) but it’s worth reinforcing the point. Now is not the time to reduce global scrutiny on the Human Rights abuses committed by the Maduro regime. Several upcoming events including a meeting of the UN (United Nations) Human Rights Council make keeping up the international pressure as important as ever.

 Foro Penal puts the number of political prisoners in Venezuela at 245 (we’ve seen numbers over 300). Human Rights Watch, using Venezuela government data, documented over 19,000 people killed by Maduro regime security forces between 2016 and 2019.

 The UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), Michele Bachelet’s, team recently lost access to Helicoide, the notorious detention center run by Maduro’s intelligence agencies, a well documented site of horrendous torture including electric shock, water boarding, and sexual violence.

 The government also fails to protect indigenous peoples and although the numbers are smaller the violence is every bit as extreme including forced labor, sexual exploitation, amputations (yes…amputations!), and killings. Impunity is the norm.

 With the ICC (International Criminal Court) investigation into Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity continuing and the UNHCHR’s third report due in September (the first two were very harsh on the Maduro regime and the third is not likely to be much different) it’s important to keep shining the light on Chavismo’s abuses.

 Note: In keeping with all this we will be doing a reprise of our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment to provide you with an historical perspective on how the Chavistas have systematically destroyed every aspect of life in Venezuela

 Then we have CNN reporting that Los Angeles Public Defender, Eyvin Hernandez, has been detained in Venezuela since March. (We told you, Maduro keeps a healthy supply of political prisoners) He went to Colombia and was helping a friend get through passport control into Venezuela. Venezuelan border authorities arrested him and the charges are conspiracy and criminal association. Maybe I should have been more nervous when I found myself in that little room with no widows as I was attempting to leave Venezuela?

 And we have La Prensa Latina reporting that Venezuela’s July oil production numbers came in at 629,000 bpd (barrels per day). They would need to be 218% above that level to reach Nicolas Maduro’s goal of 2 million bpd by the end of the year. Production is now down 242,000 bpd from December 2021. Nico, to his credit, is sticking to his guns and still says they’ll reach his oil production target.

 Then we have Insight Crime with something along the same lines as what we touched on last week, the Venezuela prison run by inmates then eventually shut down by government forces and completely closed. To follow up : OVP (Venezuela Observatory of Prisons) looked at conditions in 31 of Venezuela’s 52 prisons. 8 were entirely controlled by prison bosses (Pranes). In 15 of them gangs had partial control. Only 8 were entirely controlled by the government. So much for the Chavista’s prison reform plan…

 More tomorrow….

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