A New Voice
We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first a little news…Our friends at Caracas Chronicles tell us that powerful Venezuela opposition party, Primero Justicia (PJ), has been led for 20 years by Julio Borges. Political party leadership in Venezuela traditionally comes from Caracas or Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second largest city, and is generally male dominated. The new president of PJ isn’t from Caracas or Maracaibo and isn’t a man…she’s Maria Beatriz Martinez from Portuguesa.
The article was in interview format and spent a lot of time focused on what her ascension to president of PJ means pertaining to gender, LGBTQ+, and other related issues. That’s all well and good but the elephant in the room is can PJ come up with a presidential candidate capable of beating Nicolas Maduro, if the Chavistas will allow anything even remotely resembling a free and fair election, which is highly doubtful?
The most notable political figure in PJ is two-time presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, who most people believe won against Maduro but Maduro was fraudulently declared the winner. There are also many who believe Capriles subsequently sold out the opposition and made a deal with the Chavistas, a claim that is unsubstantiated.
Although his personal aspirations and convictions don’t always align with those of PJ he may wind up being the candidate by default. Rising star, Juan Requesens, was sentenced to 8 years in prison in August of this year for conspiracy relating to the attempted drone attack on Maduro. (The attack did happen but controversy continues to swirl as to whether or not it was staged) The attack was notable for the response of the assembled armed forces who, when the explosions occurred, ran away from Maduro, not toward him to protect their “beloved leader”.
Personally, I think Ms. Martinez would be a good choice as PJ’s presidential candidate. She believes in direct, transparent politics and says that PJ shouldn’t be shy about the fact power is the way to change things. That said, I our favorite is not from PJ and I haven’t seen anyone out there that I would put ahead of Maria Corina Machado.
Then we have Reuters telling us that a D.C. jury ordered law firm Foley Hoag must pay $92,000 to a legal expert who sued for breach of contract (non-payment). Obviously, this story isn’t notable for the size of the award, not when compared to the billions awarded against the Chavistas with many more to come. What’s interesting is that Foley Hoag was representing the Venezuelan government. It’s bad enough that the Venezuelan government screws everybody on payments (hence all the lawsuits), now their lawyers do it too!
In another legal issue we have Law 360 reporting that a judge in Delaware has given creditors with claims against Venezuela the go ahead to pursue seizure orders for CITGO shares after the Third Circuit Court declined to review underlying issues. Remember, CITGO shares are still protected by the US Treasury, at least for now, so the creditors can only get all the pieces in place for asset seizure. Nothing can happen until Treasury removes the protection…so…nothing is finalized but it’s another step forward.
And we have Merco Press telling us that after months of blockades (the term “blockade” is debatable) due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (the term “invasion” is not debatable, despite what Russia and it’s allies would have you believe), Norwind, a Russian air charter service, worked out all the issues relating to routes and permits and landed 417 Russian travelers on Venezuela’s Margarita Island. The Venezuelan government expects 100,000 tourists from Russia before December. (Maybe overly optimistic?)
Then we have Mehr News telling us that an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between Iran’s Pardis Technology Park (representing it’s various companies) and Venezuela’s PDVSA (government-owned oil company). The subject of the MoU is the provision of services and supply of equipment for the gas, oil, and petrochemical industries in Venezuela by Pardis and identified 17 priorities. A joint committee will be formed to define the necessary operational projects and make agreements for their implementation.
In short, this MoU is about the fact that the Chavistas have totally decimated their oil infrastructure and production capabilities through years of neglect and mismanagement and they want Iran to rebuild it for them as they are incapable of doing it themselves.
And we have Scoop reporting that the UN-CMW (United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers) issued it’s findings on three countries, including Venezuela. It’s primary concern for Venezuelan migrants is the closing of Venezuelan Consulates in foreign countries. Without the ability to use consular services the migrants must work through family members in Venezuela. The committee asked the State to create support mechanisms to enable families to file complaints in Venezuela for crimes committed against Venezuelan migrants abroad. Good luck with that.
Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole to begin this week’s chapter…
Chapter 2/ Setting The Record Straight
There is a lot of talk these days about sanctions. North Korea,Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba…Before I address the Venezuela sanctions I want to issue my disclaimer, the same one I always remind my family of. For the most part I’m not a fan of politicians, hence, I’m not really a Trump guy nor was I an Obama guy (certainly not Biden who is definitely the worst president of my lifetime) and so on. As a lifetime fan of history it seems most of “my guys” are dead. History is best served when you take the time to read what really happened, in as much as it’s possible, and do your best to understand it whether you like it or not, agree with it or not.
That said, there is a lot of misinformation (I’m burned out on the term “fake news” and don’t even get me started on “disinformation”) floating around that is being parroted by members of congress, the media, and at least one prominent economist. The claim is that US sanctions are responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 Venezuelans.
The first thing that strikes me about that statement is the number, 40,000. If we’re talking about the number of Venezuelans that have died from malnutrition/starvation, lack of medicine/healthcare, suicide (yes, suicide), and other related issues in recent years I would have to say the number is way low. From what I’ve read the number is more like 300,000 and that’s not counting the 28,000 – 29,000 murders that occur in Venezuela each year.
The next thing about that statement is it’s simplicity. All sanctions are not created equal and in order to understand the impact of sanctions you have to know what they are and how long they’ve been in effect, right?
The first sanctions against Venezuela were initiated in 2015 by Barack Obama. I guess most of the progressive crowd either don’t know this or have chosen to overlook this fact. At that time the Venezuelan people were already dying from shortages of food and medicine. Food shortages were the most prevalent at the time and caused massive demonstrations in 2014 in which 40 protesters were killed, hundreds wounded, and thousands imprisoned as the government repressed the dissent.
The “Guarimba”, as it was called, was exemplified by protesters carrying signs, “Maduro, We’re Hungry!” and some as simple as “Starvation!” It was typically barricaded streets and burning tires, the common manifestation in Venezuela. The repression by the Maduro regime was brutal.
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