Going After Raffi
First up today we have Rio Times reporting that Venezuela Oil Minister, Tareck El Aisammi, (Oil Minister/Debt Negotiator?/Terrorist?/Drug Dealer?) called on Prosecutor General Tareck William Saab (and he complied) to launch an investigation into former Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez and his alleged $4.85 billion “Mega Fraud” when he was president of PDVSA (government-owned oil company).
My question is, why now? Raffi thinks it has to do with rumors he may run for president, but who knows? 100 former PDVSA executives have already been arrested. Ramirez was a confidant and close ally of Hugo Chavez but a rival of Nicolas Maduro. Looks kinda’ like Lula under attack by right-wingers in Brazil (he went to jail) or Chavismo under attack by Madurismo?
And for our “here we go again” moment we have Caracas Chronicles telling us that Venezuela economist, Jose Manuel Puente says the current bolivar exchange rate (9 bolivars/dollar) might actually be 20 bolivars/dollar…lookout below. Venezuelans have seen this before. After periods where the exchange rate doesn’t move much (like recently with the government intervention of creating artificial demand for the bolivar) it can move a lot in a short period of time…We’ll see…
Then we have Chavista deputy (representative) in Maduro’s National Assembly saying the new 1st draft of the tax law is “a profound, progressive tax reform. he didn’t mention that without a budget (or oversight) nobody knows where the new revenue would go. The reason I mentioned oversight is that when Chavez took over he quickly established FONDEN through which 60% of government spending would be done…wait for it…without oversight by anyone! And they wonder how the Chavistas were able to steal over $600 billion from the Venezuelan people? (some estimate over a trillion dollars but we may never know due to FONDEN) He also blamed the recent devaluation of the bolivar on “fragility that economic sanctions have caused”.
Also on the exchange rate front we have the Prosecutor General tweeting that the ministry designed a plan to sanction businesses that don’t use the “official” exchange rate (a two bolivar per dollar difference, 7 – 9). Before last week the exchange rate of the BCV (Venezuela Central bank) and the black market rate on sites like Dolartoday.com was almost the same but now the divergence is more like the old days when I could get anywhere from 2-10 times the official rate.
Sidebar- We did a deep dive into the confusing world of bolivar exchange rates in Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole so when we do our reprise you can see it in detail but for now here’s a little refresher. At one time Venezuela had three exchange rates, the official/ preferred rate…the official rate…and the black market rate. I know, it gets crazy. We, in the real world, are accustomed to a currency exchange rate just being what it is…but in the world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism nothing just is what it is and it’s all controlled by the government. Due to this rate discrepancy many overnight Chavista millionaires (billionaires) were created while the general population saw the minimum wage (again, due to the discrepancy) get as low as 67 cents A MONTH!! The international media couldn’t even comprehend a monthly minimum wage this low and I saw it reported on Bloomberg as 67 cents per hour. Anyway… we’ll bring back Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole one of these days for a full explanation.
Moving on… Caracas Chronicles asks the question, The Maduro regime has no money to fix Venezuela’s transportation system (only one out of ten public buses in operation and the Caracas Metro in a shambles) so how can they afford to send the families of the crew from the Emtrasur “Mystery Flight” to Argentina? I guess it must be the same people that send gasoline to Cuba while Venezuelans wait in line for days to fill their tanks.
Then we have the UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), Michele Bachelet, saying she will call Nicolas Maduro before her term is up in a week. (Funny, this is the first mention I’ve seen of her leaving. Did I miss a memo?) She said she’s hopeful that representatives in Caracas will have access to political prisoners and court hearings. Chavismo has blocked them.
OK…Time Out! I know Michele Bachelet has been criticized for allowing Maduro to save face, which she kinda’ did, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad as the previous ICC (International Criminal Court) Chief Prosecutor was before the current head,Karim Khan, took the reins. The old Chief Prosecutor, Maduro apologist, Fatou Bensouda, slow-walked the preliminary ICC investigation into the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity for years and didn’t condemn him until she was leaving office (her version of condemnation was saying that the preliminary investigation should go forward).
At least Michele Bachelet has put out reports the last two years calling out the Maduro regime for it’s Human Rights violations and total lack of an independent judiciary.These reports, along with others, helped Karim Khan, almost as soon as he became ICC Chief Prosecutor, launch an official investigation (not a continuation of the preliminary investigation). Now the FFM (Fact Finding Mission) is due to issue it’s third report in September. Will they submit it to Michele Bachelet’s replacement? If so, will it be made public? Will it be used by the ICC? It seems as though we suddenly have a whole lotta’ questions.
Then we have Panamanian border services reporting that they captured a Venezuelan ‘coyote’ who abandoned 15 migrants, including 8 minors, in the jungle at the Darien Gap (as we always remind you, one of the most dangerous migrant crossings in the world).
Then we have Law 360 reporting that the 11th Circuit Court revived a family’s ID theft suit against BB&T. The Venezuelan family was swindled out of their life savings of $861,000 in Florida. It’s not the big money we’re used to seeing in these Venezuela-related cases but hey, it’s a family involved. Venezuelan families need all the help they can get these days.
And we have Rio Times reporting that Venezuela Defense Minister, Padrino Lopez, asserts, “The uni-polar world as we experience it is crumbling”. Does anybody other than socialists/Marxists use terms like “uni-polar, multi-polar, and pluri-polar”? He also got in a “US hegemony” reference…another Marxist favorite.
Then we have Bitcoin.com telling us that cryptocurrency ATM company, Bitbase, is preparing to open operations in Venezuela this year. (remember, Venezuela is one of the leading countries in the world in cryptocurrency adoption, primarily out of desperation) The Spanish-based company opened it’s first Latin American location in Paraguay in July. They have been setting up operations through an office in the Spanish Embassy in Caracas and already have a legal department. No mention of any effect by Nicolas Maduro’s new foreign currency/ cryptocurrency tax (labeled the “Large Financial Transaction” tax).
And we have Merco Press telling us that Nicolas Maduro has sent a letter of support to CFK (Cristina Fernandez de Kirshner). Argentine prosecutor, Diego Lucian, is recommending 12 years in jail and lifetime disenfranchisement for the current VP and former president. She allegedly headed an illicit association that defrauded the state through granting of irregular (I think that means ‘no bid’) contracts to businessman, Lazaro Baez. Maduro calls the charges part of a “new Condor plan” (ref. CIA involvement). All the other Latin American socialists have also expressed their support for socialist CFK.
That will do it for this week. We’re taking Monday off to celebrate Labor Day so we’ll see ya’ Tuesday. Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!
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