Not Buying It

 We’ll get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “Tales from the crypto” shortly but first…It’s been a while since we heard anything from the ICC (International Criminal Court). Reuters reports that ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, has formally asked the court to resume his investigation into alleged Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime.

 In April Venezuelan authorities asked for a delay in the investigation, which was denied by Khan, and also asked that the investigation be turned over to Venezuela state authorities, which was also rejected. The decision now rests with the panel of ICC judges. Venezuela’s Information Ministry and the Prosecutors Office had no comment.

 Just to be clear, the amount of evidence against the Maduro regime, Maduro himself, and other high-ranking Chavistas for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity is overwhelming. Anything short of a full investigation, charges brought against Maduro and all the other high-ranking Chavistas complicit in his crimes, a public and transparent trial of all those involved, and the eventual conviction of all those involved would be an injustice to the long-suffering people of Venezuela and the world entire…but I may be just a little bit biased having seen the utter destruction caused by 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism up close and personal.

 Then we have Caracas Chronicles with details on why the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, isn’t buying what the Maduro regime is selling as far as the Chavistas “self-investigating” the Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela.

 Of 893 reported cases of possible crimes against humanity…has identified 28 cases where progressive investigative steps have been taken. Significantly, 67.86% of the cases are at the preliminary investigation stage despite the alleged criminality having occurred in 2017. (That would be when the Maduro regime killed 140 protesters, wounded over 3,000, and imprisoned thousands more)

 10.53% of the cases have been terminated without evidence of a prior investigation. In 85.55% of the cases the factual scope of the domestic investigation is unclear or no suspect has been identified. In Khan’s words, “…the contextual elements of crimes against humanity are not being investigated.”

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that the World Justice Project has released it’s latest rankings of respect for the rule of law, country by country. The report ranked Venezuela and the regime of Nicolas Maduro last in the world. With no independent judiciary and no rule of law is it any surprise the ICC Chief Prosecutor doesn’t want these guys “self-investigating”?

 And we have Reuters reporting that PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) experienced a fire at one of it’s smaller refineries the same day it restarted it’s largest refinery after a fire and power outage a few days before. Just another day in the oil industry under 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 We also have Reuters telling us that Interim President of the caretaker government, Juan Guaido, is calling on authorities (CNE, Venezuela’s electoral council) to set the date for the country’s 2024 presidential election. As we all know, CNE will set the date as soon as Maduro gives it to them.

 Then we have USNI News reporting “Fat Leonard Gives Maduro Regime an Edge in Redefining Relations With the US” says a Venezuelan legal expert. The US will have to respond to Venezuela’s courts, controlled by Maduro, and Maduro will use this as proof of his legitimacy. If the US fails to respond to Maduro’s courts “Fat Leonard” will be released. (“Fat Leonard” was the guy convicted in the bribery scheme involving the US military who escaped from house arrest while awaiting sentencing, fled to Venezuela, and is seeking asylum)

 And we have the US- DOJ (United States Department Of Justice) reporting that a man from Puerto Rico was sentenced to 9 years, 7 months for laundering over $2.5 million in drug proceeds from Miami to Venezuela.

 US-DOJ also reports that two Venezuelans, part of 11 Venezuelan nationals apprehended near St. Croix, were sentenced to 41 months imprisonment and are subject to deportation for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine (49 kilos).

 Now lets head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 6/ Tales From The Crypto…

 You may think you’ve seen some financial manipulation, if not outright fraud, in the last chapter. There is a reason I only briefly mentioned “El Petro” previously.The world has never seen anything like this before, literally. It was heralded as the world’s first cryptocurrency backed by the hard assets of a sovereign government. Yet another Chavismo revolutionary “way of the future”. It was going to change everything! To call it a fraud or a scam is an insult to anyone that has ever perpetrated a fraud or a scam. And what’s really crazy is they’re still peddling it today! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…El Petro!!

 The year 2017 was a tough one for Chavismo financially. When Maduro went on his, now annual, trip around the globe begging for money and came home empty-handed (again) it must have seemed like the jig was finally up. His last two trips had proven fruitless and Russia and China had let him know that no new money was coming his way. (I guess China reached their “pain threshold” at $60 billion) The US sanctions lit was growing, adding more and more individuals each time. Oil production was continuing to decline and oil prices had yet to rebound. Then something that had been coming for a long time finally happened. They defaulted on their bonds. (First time in Venezuela history)

 They needed to come up with some money somehow to buy the loyalty of the military. They could print bolivares but as we saw last chapter nobody was interested in bolivares. As all this was happening the financial community was fixated on the rising popularity of blockchain technology and specifically the cryptocurrency,  Bitcoin. It had skyrocketed from $800 to $20,000 while Chavismo’s financial resources had done exactly the opposite. It seemed the answer to all their problems. Just invent their own “Bitcoin”. The result is what the former bus driver turned president and his band of financial and economic illiterates came up with.

 On December 4th, 2017 Maduro announced the creation of “El Petro”, the world’s first sovereign-backed cryptocurrency. The trick would be that cryptocurrencies rely completely on trust, the confidence that people can buy and sell them…you know… use them as the name implies, as a currency. Credibility might be an issue considering the government was broke, heavily in debt, had no credit with anyone as they had screwed basically everyone in the world on basically every deal they ever made, and now had defaulted on their bonds for the first time in history.

 Their concept to solve this problem was actually not all that bad an idea. It was common knowledge that Venezuela had the largest proven oil reserves in the world. If they could leverage that as backing for their new, “El Petro” maybe they could generate some interest. As with all things Chavismo- related, the devil would be in the details.

 More tomorrow….

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