Creditors And Vultures
We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…Reuters reports a US judge could rule soon on a final auction schedule for shares of CITGO which could cause the breakup of the Venezuela government-owned refiner, the 7th largest in the US.
Evercore group has already been approved to conduct the auction. If a final auction schedule is approved the calendar could see formal bids due in 7 months and a court hearing to accept the high bid within 9 months of the launch date.
It’s important to remember that as of now CITGO is still protected by the US Treasury Department OFAC (Office of foreign Asset Control) but when that protection expires, if it’s not extended, all the creditors want to be ready to move as quickly as possible and to have their place in line secured.
CITGO is about the only asset of PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) that’s worth anything, approximately $8 – $10 billion. It sounds like a lot but there are far more claims (and awards) than assets. US District Judge, Leonard P. Stark, has already approved $970 million to Canadian miner Crystallex. Koch Minerals and Koch Mining are asking Judge Stark for a seizure order to satisfy their $387 million judgement. Conoco Phillips has a $1.2 billion judgement included in the court’s deliberations and total awards of $8.5 billion. Miner Gold Reserve, Inc. has also registered with the court for it’s $713 million award. There are plenty more creditors and we haven’t even talked about the billions and billions owed to the bondholders (sometimes called vultures). The creditors are circling, the bond vultures are circling, and when this happens, CITGO, as we know it, will cease to exist…and the clock is ticking…
And we have this from Tehran Times…The headline read “Iran Helps Venezuela Reach Record Oil Exports”. I figured it sounded like a big deal so I checked it out. I read the article twice and couldn’t find another mention of those “Record Oil Exports”. They did, however, say that September exports were the 3rd highest this year…which kinda’ contradicts their headline.
Then we have FX Empire telling us that at the OAS (Organization of American States) the pressure is ramping up against Juan Guaido, leader of Venezuela’s parallel government and recognized by OAS. 19 of the organization’s leftist leaders voted in favor of discussing the possibility of ousting Guaido’s representative but fell short of the required 24 votes. Notable votes against Guaido were Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru.
And Caracas Chronicles tells us that digital observatory, ProBox, exposed the cooperation between the regimes of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to position Twitter trends. ProBox director, Marivi Vasquez, explained the Maduro regime generated the highest amounts of socio-political trends, more than the rest of the actors combined. The Communications Ministry and it’s platforms positioned 440 trends and posted more than 186 million tweets which represents 83.4% of all messages in 2021. At least 22 hashtags trended in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua at the same time.
Caracas Chronicles also reported that the director of UCV (Venezuela Central University) Tropical Medicine Institute says they don’t have equipment or financing to replace equipment stolen in recent robberies. Programs like parasitology are at risk.
They also reported that a new oil spill was detected in Falcon coming from a PDVSA underwater pipe. It’s the 18th spill in the region in the last two years.
They also tell us that University and public workers were protesting…again, for payment of salaries and benefits. (How many times has the regime told them the Chavista version of “The check is in the mail”?)
Then we have Gulf today reporting that at least 25 people are dead and 52 missing after heavy rains caused a landslide in the town of Tejerias, 30 miles from the capitol city of Caracas. One resident said “The village is lost…Las Tejerias is lost.”
And Human Rights Watch tells us that the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to extend the mandate for the FFM (Fact Finding Mission) for two years. They have published three (or is it four?) scathing reports on the Maduro regime’s (and naming Maduro specifically) Human Rights violations. This will help the UN- OHCHR (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) monitor the in-country situation.
And we have the Arkansas Democrat Gazette telling us that locals on Margarita Island, Venezuela are scraping up salt from tidewaters to sell for two cents a pound. Hunger is a powerful motivator.
Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…
Chapter 2/ continued…
The sanctions pressure has also been ratcheted up to include the mining sector which I’ll address in subsequent writings. The rape of the environment, the slaughter of indigenous peoples, and the rampant disease caused by Maduro’s “Mining Arc” deserves special consideration. Suffice to say the Venezuelan people saw no improvement in their situation.
Protester after protester all have the same response to the question, “Why are you protesting?” And the answer is… “As long as Maduro remains in power we will continue to die.” Sanctions relief would simply allow Maduro and his cadre to remain in power longer causing more and more Venezuelans to die every day. That is, of course, unless you believe that Maduro will wake up after being in power since 2013 and doing nothing but inflicting pain and death on his people and suddenly decide to provide them with food and medicine instead of buying more weapons to prolong his tenure. What do you think?
Another revenue source which isn’t talked about by the usual suspects and is vehemently denied by the Chavistas is trafficking. Their vast networks for illegal trafficking of narcotics, gasoline, food, and minerals produce an estimated almost $9 billion a year. Where are the stories about the benevolent narco-traffickers buying medicine and baby formula for the long-suffering people of Venezuela? I will get into the details of these in subsequent writings as well but anyone that does even minimal research on the Maduro regime knows of the existence of these networks and how (and how much) they benefit the Chavistas. These are bad guys and what they do to the Venezuelan people is pure evil. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
So what are the alternatives? Doing nothing is not an option and I don’t want to go to the other extreme of armed intervention although “The Great Liberator, Simon Bolivar, used armed intervention by the British to free Venezuela and Colombia from Spanish colonial rule (another one of those things nobody likes to talk about). Dialogue? You can’t be serious. Dialogue has been tried five times with the Chavistas since 2014 and failed miserably as the first thing on the list, free and fair elections, is a non-starter for Chavismo. With Maduro’s 5% approval rating his party, PSUV, would lose in dramatic fashion. That pretty much leaves us with sanctions in the hope that they will financially strangle the Maduro regime to the point where he can’t buy the loyalty of the military any longer and he will step down (unlikely) or be forced out as internal pressure through demonstrations mounts.
There is one more thing that not many people talk about and I alluded to it earlier. If none of this works out Maduro is still screwed but unfortunately the Venezuelan people will be screwed with him. It’s the bondholders.Once again we will have to leave the details of this scenario for later as it’s far too complicated but the bond vultures are circling and when they swoop in there will be nothing left but bones.
Summary : Like it or not we live in a sound bite world and people are prone to irresponsibly parrot anything that supports their their views without bothering to check the facts. It’s easy to see with even the most superficial amount of fact checking that Venezuela was suffering long before sanctions were initiated, that non-individual sanctions weren’t used until the Chavistas had every opportunity to address the horrific conditions they imposed on their people, and options other than sanctions allow more atrocities to be perpetrated on the Venezuelan people and more Venezuelans die.
That wraps up chapter two. More news tomorrow….
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