Now...And Then

 We’ll go Gown The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…La Prensa Latina reports that Venezuela celebrated International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. While the country has had four consecutive quarters of economic growth (after 8 consecutive years of recession) poverty is so pervasive that the UN (United Nations) approved an emergency response plan to provide humanitarian support for 5.2 million Venezuelans (Venezuela’s population is now down to about 25 million people due to the mass migration) in “extreme circumstances”. UCAB says Venezuela’s poverty rate is 94% (we last saw 96% but I think you get the idea) with an extreme poverty rate of 76.5%. (The UN metric for extreme poverty is earning a dollar a day or less)

 This might be a good time to remind you that while poverty has been a problem for a long time in Venezuela. It was a major factor in the election of leftist/Marxist Hugo Chavez in 1998. He promised that his 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism would “lift the people out of poverty”. The poverty rate before Chavez, and now Maduro, was about 50%. Yes, poverty was a problem at 50% but with poverty now at 94% (or 96%) it seems the cure is worse than the disease.

 One third of the population, mostly retirees and public workers, live on less than $15 a month (less than 1/2 the UN extreme poverty metric) while basic expenses are $500 a month. Impoverishment in Venezuela has been “so generalized that people who in any other context, with what they’ve achieved, should not be poor, actually are”.  So, how’s that 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism working out for ya’?

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that the Criminal Chamber of TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) approved notification that the US has 60 days to officially request extradition of Leonard Glenn Francis, wanted in the US for a bribery scheme involving the US military after escaping from house arrest while awaiting sentencing in California.

 They were quick to inform everyone that if they didn’t have the request in 60 days they would have to release the “citizen” (fugitive) based on an extradition treaty from 1922. Remember the article the other day on serving process in Venezuela? They better get moving on this.

 And we have Reuters with the headline, “Explainer : Why Venezuela’s refugee exodus to the US has been accelerating”. They offered nothing we don’t tell you almost every day so lets move on…Oh, one thing that wasn’t in the article is that the only thing that slowed the migration (flight) from 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism was the Covid-19 lock down(s). Now it’s full speed ahead…7.1 million and counting.

 Then we have Daily Mail telling us that in another attempt to get the case against Alex Saab (the architect of Nicolas Maduro’s fraudulent CLAP government food program and other schemes) dismissed his lawyers produced a photo of a passport designating him as a “special envoy” to Iran. Aside from what we already know, that Alex Saab never participated in any diplomatic activities (his diplomatic status is as fraudulent as the CLAP food program) , why was he carrying a regular Venezuela passport at the time of his arrest? Oh, and what relevance does this photo have since it’s of a passport that expired 3 months before his arrest? (This is kinda’ like the Chavistas offering Google searches as proof of criminal behavior… searches initiated after the alleged crime was committed) His lawyers still contend he was on a humanitarian mission although the narrative has shifted to “much needed fuel” (not the previously claimed food and medicine). We’ll keep you posted…

 And we have Reuters informing us that in February,2022 “US Blacklists Venezuela Airline Conviasa” according to a notice on the US Department of Treasury’s website. Now we have Rio Times telling us that Conviasa is gradually expanding it’s international connections. Besides the usual suspects they will also, on a limited basis, service Madrid, Istanbul, Doha, Qatar, and Dubai.

 And, for the Calgary Herald we offer a correction (I hate “fact checkers”). The article listed Venezuela among countries cutting oil production. Even trying to produce every drop of oil they can they’re still below the quota set by OPEC (Oil Producing ans Exporting Countries). You have to be a “real” oil producing country to cut production.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 Chapter 4/ continued…

 …In the brief period between blackouts and following the third one the government’s response to the situation was more focused on where to place the blame than on what was being done to fix the problem. Much of it was the same explanation they used for everything wrong with the country. “It’s right-wing terrorists” or “Colombian paramilitaries backed by the US” or “It’s a plot by the CIA to bring down The Revolution” and now these took on a new wrinkle. These three, with numerous references to “imperialist oligarchs”, were behind hackers that attacked the Guri Dam’s operating system. They quickly had to change that story when someone informed them that the system at Guri was an old analog system that had never been upgraded to digital. You can’t hack an analog system.

 Even the Chavista’s stranglehold on the media couldn’t contain the facts. They could jail sources inside the country but that wouldn’t erase what they might say. The main sources for the reality of the situation would come from around the world. Corpolec (government-owned utility company), like PDVSA, had lost many employees due to economic conditions, purges, scapegoating, and fear of future scapegoating. There were also engineers with foreign firms familiar with the complex nature of Guri’s operating system, and specifically it’s turbines. They knew what hadn’t been done, what should have been done, and what needed to be done.

 So what really happened? Again, I’ll try not to get too deep in the weeds. As previously stated, Guri provides the majority of electric power in Venezuela. The massive turbines generate power that leaves Guri on one main line and is then split to three primary lines. Like all power lines, they require constant maintenance to keep both the lines and the ground below them clear to prevent physical damage and fires. This simply was neglected. When fire triggered an overheat alarm on one of the three primary lines and it shut down all that power diverted to the two remaining lines. They overheated and shut down as well. Now comes the tricky part. To restore service it’s not like you can just reset a circuit breaker. There is a complex process to restarting the turbines and a step by step process for gradually introducing the load back into the main transmission line and subsequently to the three primary lines. Due to the “brain drain” in recent years, Corpolec lacked the technical expertise to execute this process.There are four companies globally with the experience and expertise to to properly execute this process. None of the four were contacted including one that had done work at Guri previously. While nobody would go on record. prevailing wisdom was that the government couldn’t pay COD and nobody with half a brain would extend them credit as they have pretty much screwed everyone on the planet, countries and companies alike…

 That left Corpolec with the trial and error method which led to the length of the first blackout as well as the second and third blackouts. If it wasn’t so dire a situation, the government’s response would have been laughable. First it was a hack, then a “high tech electromagnetic assault”, then “fires set by saboteurs” (the usual suspects, CIA, paramilitaries, etc.). Caracas Chronicles said it best in their mock headline “There was another big electric failure in Lara and Yaracuy this week. No wild animal has been charged so far.”

 More tomorrow….

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