We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…Our friends at Caracas Chronicles had a piece titled “The Venezuela Opposition Primary Is Off To A Rocky Start”. What an understatement…what a mess. Quick review…The Venezuelan people certainly don’t like Nicolas Maduro (5% approval rating) but they don’t trust the opposition either. More Venezuelans identify as Ni…Ni (neither, nor) than with either the Chavistas or the opposition, and with good reason.

 The opposition has been plagued with infighting for years with each faction seemingly more concerned with their own interests rather than concern for the people and the ultimate goal, to put an end to the Maduro regime. Short form…Chavistas, bad… Opposition, not much better. You would think with as bad as things are in Venezuela it would be easy to find a candidate to rally behind and take on Maduro in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. You would be wrong.

 In an attempt to regain some credibility the opposition parties disbanded the former coalition, MUD, to form a new coalition, The Unitary Platform (PUEDE). The government’s CNE (electoral council) won’t get involved in the opposition’s primary process (why help the enemy get organized, right?) so PUEDE said it would form an independent commission to coordinate the primaries but after months it still hadn’t finalized the list of who would be on the commission.

 Then Reuters broke the story that their sources say the primary date would be in June,2023. This is why people don’t trust the opposition by whatever name you want to call them. For years the opposition has been a “good old boy” network. Then they form a new coalition, with a new name, and even name a woman (for the first time) as president and say there will be a new, independent commission to coordinate the primaries (most importantly setting the primary election date).

 Reuters’ sources are, more than likely, tied to their long-standing contacts within the opposition so if their sources already leaked a tentative date for the primary then it looks like those same “good old boys” are still running the show and looking out for their own interests. They need to WAKE UP, clean up this mess, and get behind a real leader that has integrity and credibility…like Maria Corina Machado! She’s maintained since day one that the only way forward for Venezuela is without Nicolas Maduro. She stood her ground and never compromised her principles. Now is the time!

 And we have State.gov telling us that Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, met with members of the Venezuela opposition’s Unitary Platform’s Negotiation Delegation to express support for a return to negotiations with the Maduro regime for free and fair elections and to address humanitarian issues. (Nobody’s even talking about the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity except for brief mentions) Good luck with that.

 Then we have The Block reporting that US officials arrested two individuals and indicted five others for violating sanctions on trade in Russian military equipment and Venezuelan oil. The alleged criminal ring used shell companies and cryptocurrency to launder Venezuela oil profits and purchase equipment for the Russian military.

 And we have Law 360 reporting that a Federal judge in Florida sanctioned a Venezuelan businessman with ties to FARC after he failed to show up for a deposition in the case against him seeking to seize his assets to help pay for a $318 million judgement against the terrorist organization.

 Then we have Oilprice.com reporting that all operations were halted at Venezuela’s largest refinery complex after a fire and blackout. A similar incident also occurred at the Paraguana complex in July. These outages exacerbate an already precarious domestic fuel supply situation and last month Venezuela cut oil shipments to Cuba (to pay for doctors and military and security advisors) by over 50,000 bpd (barrels per day). So…these are the guys that, as Nicolas Maduro said, “Stand ready to supply the world’s oil and gas needs”.

 And we have Argus Media telling us that representatives of Venezuela’s Parallel Government led by opposition leader, Juan Guaido, met wit US State Department officials and were adamant in opposing any easing of sanctions aimed at getting the Maduro regime back to the negotiation table on free and fair elections. Chevron is looking for sanctions easing saying it could increase oil production in Venezuela by 200,000 bpd in about a year were sanctions to be eased. They’re looking for a deal similar to one the Biden administration cut with Eni (Italy) amd Repsol (Spain) to export oil to Europe. (After the Biden administration eased sanctions to allow the deal the Chavistas backed out of the debt reduction part saying it would only accept cash)

 And speaking of Guaido and the boys, we have FX Empire telling us that three of the four main parties of the Venezuelan opposition alliance are backing a move to wind up the interim government led by Juan Guaido, according to a senior figure in the opposition alliance. Juan Guaido and the interim (Parallel) government have failed to dislodge Nicolas Maduro from power and, as we said earlier, the opposition is looking to hold primary elections in 2023 to elect a candidate to oppose Maduro in the 2024 presidential election.

 And with Halloween right around the corner check this out…The South African tells us that the world’s largest known spider is a male Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, with a leg-span of 11 inches, found in Rio Cavro, Venezuela. I know Venezuela has anacondas, lots of scorpions, and big ole tarantulas crawling around but come on… a spider the size of a dinner plate!

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole shall we…

 Chapter 4/ continued….

 …The government’s absurd explanations aside, a plan was needed going forward. An emergency 30 day power rationing plan was put into effect, for the most part excluding the capitol of Caracas, and most people thought it would become the “new normal” (which it did). Power rationing normally meant four hour power cuts. For much of the country that was inverted and they only had power for four hours a day. The government said normalcy would return soon. The spokesman for Sintraedelca, the electrical workers union, disagreed. Other than sticking to their “boogey man” theme and increasing security to safeguard the public from further “attacks” there wasn’t much of a plan other than to shorten the work day and send workers home at 2:00 PM.

 The Electric Ministry’s solution was more like an ideological talking point than a solution. “Electrical workers will participate in union-related courses with Cuban experts to form socio-political cadres”. Huh? And exactly how does that solve the problem? If a statement from the government’s budget is any indication, things don’t look good. “All problems will be solved by 2032 incorporating Popular Power under socialist values”. So, how’s that working out so far?

 It’s also worth noting that 40% of Corpolec’s allocated power output isn’t charged to anyone. A major contributor to this revenue problem is the “Gran Mission Vivienda”, Chavismo’s low-cost housing project. These houses have no electric meters! Electricity prices are so low in Venezuela I never paid more than a dollar a month in 12 years. Combine this with a government that is broke and has no credit anywhere and I wouldn’t look for a revenue bump for Corpolec anytime soon.

 Diminished expectations were (and are) the order of the day. With 45 % of the country reporting frequent days without power various organizations asked for power for at least a few hours a day. The metals processing sector won’t be returning to normal either. It relies on nodes which once they are without power for a number of hours are effectively dead. And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Tuy pumping system, which supplies water to a large portion of Caracas, would require about a third of the available power to restart since the power supply was so degraded. This leads us to the other part of the power crisis, the water crisis.

 There is a reason that beginning with the first civilizations in Mesopotamia, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, civilization has clustered around rivers and spread from there. Access to fresh water is essential to survival. Chavismo seems to have lost sight of this basic fact. In 1998, just before the election of Hugo Chavez, approximately 80% of Venezuelans had regular access to fresh water. Since the Chavistas took the reins that percentage has dropped to about 30%.

 Under Chavismo issues with water are nothing new. In recent years there have been thousands of protests annually in various communities and neighborhoods for lack of water although it must be said it’s hard to distinguish them from the lack of power protests. It’s common to encounter roads barricaded in protest, burning tires, etc. Typically the government sends in some water trucks and things calm down… until the next time. Caracas is the perfect example of the problem.

 Although in close proximity to the coast, Caracas sits well above sea level (900 meters) requiring it’s water supply to be pumped uphill to a significantly higher altitude for much of the city. When the power went out the Tuy pumping system went down leaving millions without water.

 More tomorrow….

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