Don't Forget Javier

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in just a bit but first…It was good to see this piece from The Nation (November 29,2022) lest we forget, with all the talk of “normalization” with the Maduro regime, who Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas really are. Case in point, Javier Tarazona, Director of NGO, Fundaredes, a Human Rights activist group.

 On July 2,2021 he was arrested, along with his brother and their lawyer, both also with Fundaredes, when they went to lodge an official complaint with the prosecutors office against security officers and other individuals for harassment. This is how things work under the Maduro regime and I know from personal experience.

 When my wife, daughter, and I were leaving Venezuela in 2021 we were victims of a scam in a Caracas hotel. When we reported it and asked that the fraud be investigated we were told an investigation would be opened by the police…into my wife’s activities! Who knew that the owners of the hotel (perpetrators of the scam) were connected Chavistas? We packed up and left immediately…but I digress…

 So, Javier and friends get thrown into the slammer for filing a harassment complaint, his brother and the lawyer were released after about 4 months in SEBIN (Part of Maduro’s three-headed monster of security services) custody at the notorious El Helicoide, but their freedom is conditional. The criminal proceeding against them is still open (If they open their mouths they will find themselves right back in El Helicoide) so they have to present themselves in court every 15 days (it was every 8 days) and they are prohibited from leaving the country.

 Javier, 17 months after his arrest, is still in jail. He is under pretrial detention (so much for habeas corpus) and his preliminary hearing has been deferred 13 times. He is charged with inciting hatred, committing treason, and terrorism under the Law Against Hatred For Peaceful Coexistence And Tolerance. We’ve warned against Anti- Hate laws many times. They mean whatever the government wants them to mean. “Hate is in the eye of the beholder.” The same holds true for “censorship” or “content moderation”. Anyway, there you have it…the status of Human Rights in Venezuela (pssst…there are no Human Rights in Venezuela). Luckily for us (and unfortunately for Javier) he keeps getting paraded into court so we don’t forget about him.

 Then we have CNA telling us that Venezuela Oil Minister, Tareck El Aissami, (also known for his ties to drug trafficking and terrorism) said PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) will soon sign new contracts for it’s joint ventures (at least 40) with Chevron and other oil companies to boost production. Other companies are asking the US for the same type of authorizations recently granted to Chevron including receiving and exporting various oil products.

 And we have Rig Zone reporting that Chevron will take over operations at a crude upgrading facility and using it’s own condensate to mix with Venezuela’s heavy crude will have a shipment ready for export later this month according to the head of Chevron Venezuela, Javier La Rosa.

 Then we have Reuters telling us that US refiners Valero, PBF, and Citgo (subsidiary of PDVSA) are jockeying for access to the oil Chevron is expecting from Venezuela in the coming weeks. All were regular buyers of Venezuela crude (before sanctions), which not all refiners can process due to it’s extra-heavy nature, and have not received cargoes from Venezuela since 2018.

 No Venezuelan oil has been allocated to Chevron for export to the US and after the initial excitement over the easing of sanctions the Maduro regime is voicing it’s displeasure with the terms of the agreement. Neither PDVSA nor any Venezuela government entity can receive cash for Venezuela crude sales.

 As we’ve previously told you, the deal is for debt reduction only (supposedly) as was the agreement for Venezuela crude to Europe before the Chavistas demanded “cash only” after the initial shipments causing a 4 month pause which was recently resumed and a cargo is on it’s way to Europe.

 Once again, we will pound the table to ask for answers. It is unknown if current cargoes headed to Europe are for debt reduction, as stipulated in the sanctions-easing agreement, or if the Europeans have given in to the Chavistas demand for cash, which would be a sanctions violation. Shouldn’t this be a big deal?

 Then we have IOM reporting that the UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency, and IOM (International Organization for Migration) are launching a two year, $1.72 billion, regional plan to support the needs of Venezuela migrants. Just a reminder… for unknown reasons, five times the money is spent assisting Ukraine migrants and this balloons to ten times the money for Syrian migrants. Obviously the funding is long overdue.

 Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 8/ Free Gas continued…

 To get an idea of the lost revenue let’s use some low numbers so our lost revenue estimate will be on the low side, a minimum if you will. Although historic usage, on average, is much higher let’s use the low number of 200,000 bpd (barrels per day) of gasoline. In a country of 5 million cars this should be much higher but there aren’t as many cars on the road as in the past. People either can’t find parts or can’t afford them. So, 200,000 X 55 (average volume of a barrel) = 11 million gallons per day. Let’s use a really low gas price, in real world terms of a dollar a gallon X 11 million gallons X 365 days a year = over $4 billion in lost revenue. And these are low numbers!

 Every analyst and ally, except Cuba, advised Maduro to raise gasoline prices again (not like that seemingly huge 6,000% increase in 2016, up to 25 cents per tankful). He listened to none of them, which is pretty much his reaction to any advice that requires him to change policy. He did announce a major price increase at the time of his economic overhaul and the new (at the time) “Sovereign Bolivar” currency. Tell me if this doesn’t sound typically Chavista…The new plan would involve new registration and regulation levels. two different prices, subsidized pricing for those registered with the plan, and an international average price for those not part of the plan. Of course this would be through the “Carnet de la Patria” (Homeland Card) and also required that people register their cars for the plan. So, the government gets more people to sign up for the corrupt “Homeland Card”, gathers more information on cars and car owners, and then does nothing. Gas prices remained where they were (international prices aside) in 2016. I almost forgot that when the new bSs (Sovereign Bolivar) came into being the government had to allow the old currency, the bsf (Strong Bolivar) to stick around because the new currency didn’t have a denomination small enough to pay for gasoline.

 So why would this continue? It can’t be political reasons since Maduro is a dictator and has already proven he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. It can’t be like the good old days with the Chavistas raking in so much money from oil sales and loans that he simply doesn’t care about lost revenue. So what is it?

 More tomorrow….



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