They've Been Had!

 We’ll wrap up this week’s segment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole in a few, but first…National Review asks the question “How long will it take before administration officials realize they’ve been had?”

 In October the Biden administration did a prisoner swap with Venezuela and released the “narco- nephews”, two nephews of Nicolas Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, serving 18 year terms in US Federal Prison for cocaine trafficking. (We told you, the Maduro regime is up to it’s eyeballs in cocaine trafficking)

 Then in November, following the Maduro regime and the Venezuelan opposition’s agreement at the restarted talks in Mexico to create a UN-managed fund to distribute a proposed $3 billion in unfrozen assets, the Biden administration relaxed sanctions to allow Chevron to export Venezuela oil to the US. Still to come are talks in Mexico on free and fair elections (Maduro’s last election was a fraud as were the recent regional elections), Human Rights violations, and Venezuela’s lack of an independent judiciary.

 The Biden administration says sanctions will be fully re-imposed if “the Maduro regime fails to negotiate in good faith or follow it’s commitments.” Exactly what does that mean?

 The Chavistas already backed out of the first sanctions-easing agreement that allowed Eni (Italy) and Repsol (Spain) to receive oil shipments in Europe for debt reduction, no cash (the same deal the Biden administration just gave Chevron).

 As we told you previously, after the initial shipments to Europe, the Chavistas said all future shipments would be “cash only”. This led to a four month halt in shipments to Europe which have recently been resumed with a cargo en route to Venezuela but nobody on either side, nor the Biden administration, will say if it’s for debt payment, as was called for in the sanctions relief agreement, or if it’s for cash, as the Chavistas demanded and if so would violate the agreement.

 Now we have the Maduro regime saying there will be no more negotiations with the Venezuela opposition before the end of the year and no date has been set to resume the talks. Is that “negotiating in good faith or following it’s commitments?” Will the Biden administration allow the Chavistas to stall and delay negotiations? It seems Maduro and the Chavistas have everyone right where they want them. Again, the article’s opening question, “How long will it take before administration officials realize they’ve been had?” …OK…I’ll say it…They’ve Been Had!

 Then we have Daily Mail reporting that Ryan Berg, Director of the Americas program at CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies), says Maduro is working to regain international recognition and those efforts are also aimed at bolstering his strength at home entering 2023 while pressure mounts for a free and fair presidential election in 2024.

 Geoff Ramsey, Director of Venezuela research at US-based Washington Office on Latin America, says this was evidenced by Maduro’s visit to Cairo where he was ambushing world leaders and then projecting these hallway encounters as state visits.

 Maduro wants access to the international financial system (despite protests to the contrary) to address his regime’s serious cash flow problems. The only way to accomplish this is by engaging with the Venezuela opposition who are backed by the US and other countries who control the international financial system.

 There have been gains by Maduro, mostly due to his Latin American neighboring countries being back in control of more receptive leftist leaders (I would add Joe Biden to that list). Some governments are working under the assumption that “Venezuela democratization” is going to be a long process. It will involve negotiations, multiple elections, and sanctions relief.

 I would add that the US and Europe are desperate for oil due to Biden’s ill-conceived energy policy of hostility toward fossil fuels and embracing the “Green New Deal” proponents and Europe’s over-reliance on Russian energy and enacting unrealistic climate change policies (just like Biden).

 From what we’ve seen recently, energy concerns are more of a priority that the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. World leaders (Biden included) will tell you they’re not overlooking Maduro’s horrendous Human Rights record but their actions speak differently. What’s the old saying? … “Don’t tell me you love me…show me.”

 Then we have La Prensa Latina reporting that the Venezuela government, as well as the Venezuela Petroleum Chamber (CPV), expect other oil multi-nationals will be allowed to follow in Chevron’s footsteps regarding sanctions easing. Enrique Nova, president of CPV, said “We expect there to be a pronouncement that allows European operating companies to come in as well and resume their operations in a more comprehensive way in Venezuela, including of course aspects having to do with commercializing products.” He specifically mentioned Eni and Repsol without saying that the Chavistas already backed out of the first sanctions relief deal for the two European companies.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 10/ The Card continued…

…With most of the population in, to use a kinder, gentler term, a food insecurity situation this is a very effective means of control. Since the minimum wage is currently under $9 a month (or $7 depending on which rate you use) and headed south another effective means would be the bonuses the government puts out there. At Christmas it might be the “Baby Jesus” bonus. They’ve also had a “Mothers Day” bonus etc. The frequency of these is directly related to the government’s perception of the potential for unrest and the amounts, while seemingly substantial in bolivar terms, are usually only a buck or two. It costs the government nothing as the bonuses are created electronically out of thin air and what’s the downside anyway? A more devalued bolivar? When you only make $9 a month maybe you fall in line.

 The May,2018 elections also had a “Carnet” aspect.(The elections were widely internationally condemned as fraudulent) Politics in Venezuela have long been vote buying bonanzas. Recently with the government in control of almost everything you might get cement blocks if you were building a house or there were food giveaways. Now, with the card, vote buying is easy (and we see what the government really wanted to streamline). There is no attempt to disguise it. Outside each polling location the government put “Red Point Kiosks”. As voters exited the polls they could have their cards scanned for a special “Fatherland Prize”.

 Any new government initiative is run through the card. Government benefits and services may be billed as attempting to address a particular issue but they will only help those with the card. They are also a useful tool for government-owned businesses. They can send a list to the government and find out whatever they care to know about their employees. So far, the cards don’t have an RFID chip to enable location tracking. The only reason they don’t have this is it was prohibitively expensive so they declined the option.

 Summary : Under 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism nothing is as it seems or proposed. The “Carnet de la Patria” was supposed to be a way to help the undocumented open bank accounts and vote. Strangely enough, they began exploring this shortly after Hugo Chavez lost his first election when the people declined to grant him broader powers. It soon morphed into a government monitoring and control tool, and a very effective one with over half the population enrolled. The good news is that the government couldn’t afford the “Enhanced Big Brother Package” with the RFID location tracking. They can’t pinpoint the exact location of card carriers…Yet!

 That wraps up this week’s Venezuela :Down The Rabbit Hole segment. More news tomorrow….

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