Who's Really Interested?
So, Merco Press reports that Nicolas Maduro expressed regret that the Chilean people rejected their new Constitution. In case you missed it, Chile’s leftist President, elected last December, failed in his bid for a new Constitution. We have no details as to what was in the new Constitution but 62% voted to retain the old Constitution, a hold-over from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Chile’s President, Gabriel Boric, has already said they will make another attempt to reform Chile’s Constitution to a more progressive one. Maduro compared the Chilean process to Venezuela’s constitutional reform process from 2017-2019. He called Venezuela’s process “a true original, plenipotentiary, and sovereign process.”
OK, hold it a minute…for those unfamiliar with Venezuela’s recent “constitutional reform” process it was a sham, just like Venezuela’s “free and fair” elections.
After having Venezuela’s legitimately elected National Assembly declared null and void by his TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) he installed his own” National Assembly”, called the “Constituent Assembly” (fraudulently elected, by the way) whose express purpose was to rewrite the Constitution (which it never did), that had been rewritten by Hugo Chavez at the height of his popularity. All it accomplished was to be a rubber stamp for whatever crazy laws popped into Maduro’s head.
If he really wants to make a Venezuela-Chile comparison he should compare his left-wing dictatorship to the right-wing dictatorship of Chile’s Pinochet. Quick refresher, the Pinochet regime was responsible for over 3,000 extrajudicial killings (some say as many as 5,000) during his over 17 years in power. The Maduro regime has averaged over 1,400 extrajudicial killings every year since he took power in 2013. Nobody in Venezuela was interested in having Maduro rewrite Venezuela’s constitution and it seems the people of Chile aren’t interested in having their new leftist leader do so either. Oh, and why are all these Marxists so enamored with words like plenipotentiary?
Then we have Energy Intelligence with the headline, “The Complex Citgo Struggle Continues In US Courts”. If you are unfamiliar with the Citgo situation, let’s go over the basics… Citgo is a US based refining company, majority-owned by PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company). PDVSA is in the cross hairs of many creditors, from companies that had their operations and assets expropriated by the Chavistas, to bondholders owed billions of dollars when Venezuela defaulted on both the PDVSA bonds (the 2020 bonds had Citgo named specifically as collateral) and Venezuela sovereign bonds. They owe billions and billions more than they can pay.
All PDVSA assets in Venezuela are protected, as they have been turned over to the control of the military by the Maduro regime. The Maduro government has a little over $4 billion in gold reserves and not much else as they have destroyed the oil production (currently averaging about 650,000 bpd (barrels per day), 800,000 bpd on a very good month, but a far cry from the over 3 million bpd produced pre-Chavez), so there is basically no revenue from oil (most goes to China and Cuba for free) and almost all the other businesses the Chavistas expropriated are worthless, having been decimated by 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. The only asset remaining for PDVSA (and the Venezuela government) is Citgo but it is controlled by the Venezuela opposition and it’s President, Juan Guaido, recognized by the US and over 50 countries as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Guaido secured protection for Citgo (for now) from creditors, maintaining that it would be vital to any recovery effort in Venezuela post-Chavismo…OK, got the picture?
The Chavistas owe everybody and their brother and their only real tangible asset is in the hand of their political enemies, who have managed to protect it, thus far. Now we have a “special master” in the US District Court in Delaware working with lawyers to put the pieces in place to sell off Citgo shares to pay claims already awarded to Canadian miner, Crystallex, who is no longer in business, and Conoco Phillips, who is trying to collect on $8.5 billion already awarded.
The “special master”, Robert Pincus, pledged in an August filing to pursue a license with the US Treasury Department, currently protecting Citgo, to allow the sale to go forward. Judge Leonard Stark has said the sale can proceed even if it can’t be finalized because of Treasury’s protections. In other words, all the creditors can now get their “ducks in a row” and when Treasury’s protections are lifted…BAM!
Now everyone, including the bondholders, is scrambling to secure their place in line so they can get a piece of Citgo shares before they’re all gone. There is a chance for Citgo if it can pay the initial approximately $2 billion owed to Crystallex and Conoco Phillips and set a payment schedule for the balance but that still leaves the bond holders…and the bond vultures are circling. Oh, and we still have all those other creditors lining up whose businesses were expropriated by Chavismo and whose cases are still winding their way through courts all over the world.
Then we have Merco Press telling us that all member countries of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas) signed a document demanding the release of the Emtrasur “Mystery Flight” crew, still detained in Argentina. No surprise there as ALBA was formed in 2004 by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.
And we have La Prensa Latina reporting that the director of NGO, Plan International, says the Venezuelan migrant crisis, already nearing 7 million who have fled the Maduro regime, will intensify in the coming months and years. Aid agencies in areas such as Ecuador and Peru, who have received approximately 3 million migrants, are struggling due to limited resources.
He said funding in active conflict zones such as South Sudan and Ukraine is relatively constant whereas areas receiving Venezuelan migrants are getting only about 20% of appealed funds. We’ve been calling attention to this for some time now. Aid for Ukranian migrants is 5 times that spent on Venezuelan migrants and Syrian migrants receive 10 times the humanitarian aid as victims fleeing the Maduro regime and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. The world is outraged by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine but is not outraged by Nicolas Maduro’s starvation of Venezuela, not to mention the 1,400 extrajudicial killings per year by Maduro’s security forces, among other Human Rights violations.
Then we have NS Energy reporting that Spanish energy company, Repsol, has agreed to sell 25% of it’s upstream (production) assets to EIG for a reported $4.8 billion including assets in Venezuela and around the world. Repsol says it’s part of their “energy transition plan”. As far as their Venezuela assets go, Repsol may just be trying to recover some of the debt owed them by the Maduro regime now that the Venezuela government announced they will no longer accept debt reduction as payment for oil shipments to Europe received by Repsol and Eni (Italy).
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