The Chavista Travesty

 OK, let’s get right to the news…IPS tells us “New Political Agreement Finally Tackles Venezuela’s Social Crisis” referring to the agreement between the Maduro regime and the Venezuela opposition reached in Mexico for a $3 billion humanitarian fund managed by the UN (United Nations) consisting of potentially unfrozen assets.

 The article mentioned that an agreement was long overdue between the two sides as they had their first round of negotiations in 2014. (There have been about five attempts at an agreement, all ending the same way, with the Chavistas throwing up their hands at some perceived slight and walking away from the negotiating table) They failed to mention that in 2019 there was a massive amount of humanitarian aid poised at Venezuela’s borders, primarily with Colombia, and Maduro refused to allow it to enter the country citing both fictional “security” and quality concerns. His Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez, said at the time “How can we allow it into the country when we can’t verify where it came from?” (Yeah…who can trust those shady outfits like the Red Cross?) Maduro also played up, as he always does, the “dignity of the Venezuelan people” aspect. As we are fond of saying, “Nothing says dignity like digging for food out of the back of a garbage truck!”

 It still remains to be seen how much humanitarian aid will be allowed if it goes directly to the people through NGOs and isn’t funneled through the hands of corrupt Chavistas, for two reasons. If the aid does help the Venezuelan people it makes the Chavistas look bad and they can’t profit from the distribution if they can’t get their hands on it. The Chavista mindset never has, and never will have, anything to do with helping people or simply, as Spike Lee said “Doing the right thing” as was exemplified by a situation at the border between Venezuela and Colombia in November.

 A five year-old girl, critically ill with pneumonia, couldn’t get the treatment she needed in Venezuela (Her parents didn’t have the money to pay for medicine at one of the Chavista’s “free” healthcare centers). A civil defense ambulance, with fuel donated by a neighbor due to the fuel crisis in Venezuela, transported the little girl to the border so she could get the treatment she needed at a free clinic in Columbia. (Free clinics outside of the world of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism really are free) The Colombian military, even though the border was still technically closed to vehicular traffic, agreed to allow the ambulance through…The Venezuela National Guard would not. The girl’s parents had to disconnect her from the oxygen she was receiving in the ambulance, put her in a wheelbarrow, and try to rush her on foot across the border and the child subsequently died. Now, the parents of the little girl, who couldn’t afford treatment in Venezuela, are trying to get the money to pay for funeral expenses. What a travesty!

 IPS also had a piece on the possibility that things might actually be getting better for the long-suffering people of Venezuela. According to the Living Conditions Survey by Andres Bello Catholic University, 2022 is the first time in seven years the poverty rate in Venezuela went down. (We maintain that when the poverty rate gets to over 90% you really have nowhere to go but up…but I digress…) Poverty, those that can’t afford the basic food basket (enough to feed a family of four a balanced diet), is 81.5% , down from 91% (we had it at 95%) in 2021 and extreme poverty is just over 53% , down from 68% (we had it at 75%) in 2021.

 Food insecurity (not being able to provide food for a week) is 78% , down from 88% in 2021. More than 90% of poor households received food from the government. 65% of those who used government healthcare still had to buy their own medicine. (Kinda’ hard to do with a monthly minimum wage under $9 a month)

 Jorge Rodriguez, President of Maduro’s National Assembly and the Maduro regime’s lead negotiator in the Mexico talks with the Venezuela opposition says, of the approximately $3 billion fund to be managed by the UN, $1 billion will be allocated to the national electric grid, and the fund will cover the expenses for the infrastructure and materials for 2,300 schools and at least 21 hospitals will be revived. It sounds good but, as we’ve said before, the math doesn’t offer much hope.

 If we use the latest poverty numbers that means that 22,820,000 live in poverty and are in need of help. If you take out $1 billion for the electric grid (which will do nothing as they need at least 10 times that amount) you’re left with $2 billion in the fund. Now let’s use a really low number for resurrecting 2,300 schools and at least 21 hospitals of another $1 billion (which is totally unrealistic as they need more than 10 times that amount..but we’ve got to use something). Now you’re left with about $1 billion for the humanitarian aid for those 22,820,000 people that need help. It works out to about $43 per person…not exactly life changing, is it?

 Just to get Venezuela back to the condition it was in before Chavismo and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism destroyed every aspect of the economy, life, and society in Venezuela, will require hundreds of billions of dollars and will require participation by many private sector companies, none of which will invest in Venezuela until Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas are gone. That is the reality of what is facing the Venezuelan people.

 Then we have Newsmax telling us that Nicolas Maduro, in an address to ALBA, an “anti-imperialist” free trade bloc established by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, condemned the region’s “cowardly left” ranting against anyone who criticizes the regime of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. “…whoever accuses us (these authoritarian dictators really stick together) will have to sit face to face with us and debate the truth of Venezuela”. Uhh…OK…where do I sign up?

 And here’s a weird on nobody’s talking about…Fleet Mon reports this from Maritime Security by Mikhail Voytenko saying the bulk carrier LEROS has been stuck in Venezuela since January (and we’re just now hearing about it?) along with it’s crew of 18. The ship was supposed to receive repairs and then be sold. The crew isn’t receiving it’s wages, supplies, or food. The ship’s agent is doing nothing to assist the crew and calls to local authorities and the Russian Consulate get no response. Mikhail says he has the captain’s phone number and What’s App and is appealing for help on their behalf…hmm…

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that Venezuela’s debt with Brazil is now $1.225 billion and is in arrears. Installments are due to end in 2024 if they are being paid and if Venezuela defaults (like they have with everybody else) the debt will increase by $214.5 million.

 On that note we’ll wrap it up for the week. We’re shutting down for the holiday season (Nicolas Maduro announced the start of the Christmas season as beginning in October so we’re a little late to the party) so we’ll see you next time on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Until then…MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!!!!! Thanks for being with us!

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