Rebels Without A Cause

 We’ll get to our Down The Rabbit Hole segment in just a bit but first a few items from the news feed. Insight Crime tells us that for the last two years Venezuela states along the border with Colombia have experienced firsthand the death and destruction they spent half a century observing from a distance. Colombia’s Marxist guerilla groups have been welcome in Venezuela since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998. But now certain factions have become unwelcome and subject to a sustained Venezuela security forces offensive bringing with it airstrikes, gunfights, assassinations, kidnappings, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, and abuse. The evils of Colombia’s years of civil conflict are now in Venezuela.

 For decades Colombia rebel groups used Venezuela as a sanctuary, beyond the reach of the Colombia military. With the demobilization of FARC the guerilla presence in Venezuela, comprised of FARC dissidents (ex-FARC Mafia) and rebel insurgents ELN who not only station forces in Venezuela but control drug routes, illegal mining, and other criminal activities on the Venezuela side of the border. Filling their ranks with Venezuelan recruits and building support in Venezuelan communities abandoned by the Chavista government these groups are now as Venezuelan as they are Colombian.

 Before the peace deal with FARC the Colombian military pushed the rebels back to the border areas and rebel groups could seek sanctuary in Venezuela with their Marxist friends, the Chavistas. They have evolved, at least on the Venezuela side of the border, from anti-government revolutionaries, to defenders of Chavez and Maduro’s “Bolivarian Revolution” (except when they threaten the military/ drug trafficker’s alliance).

 The ELN guerillas have established ties with local political leaders and have similar rhetoric, that being to defend “the people” from “the oligarchy” (even though these days “the oligarchy” is mostly Chavistas) and the US “empire”. As long as they don’t run afoul of Chavistas from Caracas and their drug and mining operations with collaboration by the military they function more like a regional government than Marxist rebels.

 They are guerilla insurgents without a revolution to fight, especially now that Colombia elected a Marxist president, rebels without a cause. In the border mining areas we can add ELN to the criminal gangs, drug traffickers, Venezuela military, and others who prey on the indigenous peoples. ELN is now just a hybrid of a pro-Chavista paramilitary group and a mafia-like organization (not to be confused with the ex-FARC Mafia).

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that Venezuela lost it’s bid to disqualify two members on the committee deciding whether to annul the $8.5 billion award to Conoco Phillips stemming from expropriations by the Chavistas, a desperate and last ditch effort to avoid payment.

 And we have Merco Press reporting that the Guyana Labor Minister, Joseph Hamilton, told the Venezuela Ambassador that local authorities are open to legalizing the presence of 22,000 Venezuelan migrants and provide access to legal work and skills training. Hamilton also met with the regional director of IOM (International Organization for Migration) to explore training opportunities. Tiny little Guyana stepping up big on the Venezuela migrant crisis…Good on ya’!

 Then we have BA Times reporting that judge Federico Villena (Argentina) has taken preliminary statements from the five crew members still detained in Argentina from the Emtrasur “Mystery Flight’ since June. Three of the five are Iranians who deny any links with a terrorist organization despite evidence to the contrary showing ties to Quds Force (Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s foreign operations arm) and Hezbollah. Statements were taken but no questions answered. The saga continues…

 Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 Chapter 1/ continued…

 So now it’s raining cats and dogs, you’re under-funded and under-staffed, what do you do? Simple, deny that there’s a problem and fire the Health Minister! They even had one Health Minister that only lasted a week because she was under the mistaken impression she was actually supposed to do something. When she responded to the WHO’s (World Health Organization) request for a report on epidemiology she was immediately fired. The Chavistas had been denying the resurgence of all these previously eradicated diseases and she violated the ultimate edict of Chavismo, “tell them nothing”.

 You may be wondering how you can “tell them nothing”,pretty much about anything, especially a question like “Where did all the money go?” It’s simple. Early on Chavez set up a government department called Fonden to distribute 60% of government spending. The first 40% of spending was accountable to the National Assembly, Venezuela’s legislative body. Fonden was, and is, accountable to no one, except Chavez and now Maduro. Nobody is brave enough to ask a question like that but I’ll save that discussion for another time.

 With no money and no access to credit they tried a series of bilateral agreements to supply the failing systems but country by country, deal by deal, they screwed everyone and burned all those bridges.

 To take us further Down The Rabbit Hole Maduro has been ruling for years now by decree due to the declaration of a “state of emergency”. At the same time he denied there was a humanitarian crisis. Call me crazy but isn’t it one or the other?

 That led us to the government’s conscious decision to just let people die. They had to choose between paying off their bondholders,  strangely enough many were wealthy, connected Chavistas, or putting that money towards caring for the people. Of course they chose to pay the bondholders. Even that only lasted until November, 2017 and they are now in default on all their bonds.

 So here we are. The government keeps a well-staffed and supplied hospital or two as well as a couple of Barrio Adentro locations they can show to visitors that are gullible enough to believe the government line (Everything is fine. Nothing to see here). They don’t hear from people like the doctor in one of the “non-showcase” facilities that said it was like practicing battlefield medicine two hundred years ago.

 The good news is that the main hospital here has reopened. The bad news is  that with no supplies, few doctors, and now for the most part no food, water, or dependable electricity it truly is as Duglimar said, “In Venezuela you go to the hospital to die.”

 Summary : It  was my intent to focus on how the healthcare system in Venezuela collapsed. In doing so I didn’t get into how horrific the situation is ie; babies in cardboard boxes instead of incubators etc. It is catastrophic and as you can see it is not the effect of outside influences, natural disasters, or civil war. It is a self-inflicted wound, a man made disaster, a Chavista made disaster.

 That will do it for chapter one. Next week we’ll continue with chapter two, “Setting The Record Straight”.

 More news tomorrow….



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