Lacking Jabs

 We’ll get to this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “Just The Basics” shortly but first…In the vernacular vaccinations are referred to as “getting the jab” and in Venezuela they’re seriously lacking jabs. CSIS tells us that Venezuela’s immunization record is bad with both Covid-19 vaccinations and other diseases.

 Only 50% of Venezuelans had received the complete Covid-19 protocol as of February, 2022 when the Madoro regime stopped reporting Covid-19 vaccinations. (I guess they figured they didn’t have to report anymore since Maduro announced that “over 100%” of Venezuelans had received the vaccine. Maybe nobody explained to him that you can’t have a vaccination rate over 100% ?) Colombia, by contrast, had 80%.

 At the same time the Maduro regime provides little vaccine coverage for routine immunizations leading to spikes in cases of diseases like diphtheria and measles which are almost non-existent in neighboring countries.

 The US reports it provided $80 million in humanitarian aid and support of health programs to international organizations and NGOs in Venezuela but the Maduro regime restricts access to the population by NGOs as he considers them to be hostile to the government’s interests to influence the Venezuelan people. (The Maduro regime uses food and medicine as an extortion tool)

 This has led to the largest migration crisis in the history of Latin America, 7.1 million and counting… The health situation in Venezuela remains dire. Malaria continues to spread and access to medications for tuberculosis, HIV, and other chronic conditions remains sporadic in addition to the low vaccination rates for diphtheria and measles. This does not bode well for the country’s ability to control future outbreaks.

 Then we have Eurasia Review with a piece titled “Turkey and Venezuela : Am Exotic Alliance of the Multi-Polar Age”. The Op-Ed didn’t offer much other than (and I’m paraphrasing) The West needs to treat Turkey and Venezuela as equals, to take them more seriously. It hyped their alliance (which is basically one-sided as Venezuela doesn’t have much to offer these days other than Maduro supporting a fellow dictator) and said, “Such alliances contribute to multi- polarity and a fairer world.” Maybe the two dictators should be “fairer” to their people if they want to be taken seriously.

 And we have telling us that Iran is now refining it’s own crude, 100,000 bpd (barrels per day) at Venezuela’s El Palito refinery. Iranian news agency, Mehr, says the refinery is “built by Iran”,which isn’t true although they do have a refinery rebuild contract with Venezuela. Iran says it wants to refine more oil in Latin America. This new wrinkle raises more questions than it answers.

 Then we have the New York Post reporting that Venezuelan migrants interviewed at the US southern border in El Paso, Texas say with the new Biden administration deportation (return to Mexico) policy they will just keep coming back. US officials send them back to Juarez, Mexico, they can’t make a living there (and it’s dangerous) and they can’t go back to Venezuela. For many it will now be a revolving door.

 And we have Rio Times telling us that Nicolas Maduro’s government accuses the US of trying to “illegally and arbitrarily” sell shares of CITGO, a subsidiary of PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company). I can only offer this advice to Nico… get ready, between the creditors you owe for your illegal expropriations and the bond holders you owe for defaulting on your bonds (CITGO was put up as collateral for the 2020 bonds) they’re coming after anything and everything you have. This is what happens when you make the point man for restructuring your debt a guy prohibited by sanctions from talking to debt holders.

 Now lets head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter/4 Just the Basics

 Once you get past ensuring the safety and security of the population as well as availability of food, (these will be discussed later) there is nothing more basic the government must provide it’s people than water and, in the modern world, electricity. You know, the things we take for granted. Turn on the tap and water comes out. Flip the switch and the lights come on. You would assume that a country with abundance of natural resources, especially one more or less swimming in oil, would have no problem providing these essentials. Of course, you would be wrong. Lets start with power generation and distribution.

 When I first visited Venezuela in the 1990s there were occasional power outages, as is common in third world or emerging market countries. They would last for an hour or maybe a few hours and everyone adjusted to it. It was simply an annoyance. To a foreigner like myself it was actually kind of quaint. You know, “There it goes again”. I was in a tourist area so the service was better than in some locales and the capitol of Caracas had better uptime than rural areas.

 When Hugo Chavez came to power in 1998 he vowed to fix the unreliable power grid, which was primarily hydroelectric. With the abundance of fossil fuels and plenty of potential for thermal power generation, not to mention plenty of rivers to expand the hydroelectric system, it simply had to be made a priority.

 In 2007 Chavez nationalized the various independent electric companies and combined them into one entity, operated and regulated by the government. To great fanfare many projects were announced, primarily thermo-electric and hydroelectric. Natural gas was largely ignored, used primarily for generating power for oil wells or simply burned off. It’s not hard to imagine the frustration of living near Maracaibo, the country’s second largest city and the heart of Venezuela’s oil industry, and seeing the flames of the natural gas burning off while you sit in darkness. “Hey, couldn’t we just use some of that stuff?” With the world’s largest proven oil reserves there is also a vast quantity of natural gas (number five in the world). It’s even more frustrating when you think that Maracaibo was the first city in Venezuela with electric power.

 The prioritizing of thermo- electric and hydroelectric power wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Better for the environment right? The problem, as with everything Chavismo- related, came in the implementation. The over $50 billion spent on these much-hyped projects has, to date, produced zero, yes ZERO, kilowatts. Billions more were wasted, mis-allocated, or simply disappeared.

 During the Chavez and Maduro years there were several times of crisis where major blackouts occurred and power rationing was put into effect. The primary reason for these was drought causing dangerously low water levels, primarily at the Guri Dam which provides the majority of the country’s power. During these times the government would point to the Tacoma Dam project (yes, one of those zero kilowatt gems) as the solution. Then the rains would return and everybody would forget about drought. It was also a Chavista favorite to blame sabotage by right-wing terrorists, CIA plots to “Bring down the Revolution”, etc.

 More tomorrow….

©Copyright 2021 all right reserved.