Too Many Questions

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a bit but first…Caracas Chronicles, in a detailed history of Venezuela opposition proposals since the onset of Chavismo, made many good points, all leading to a conclusion shared by most who follow Venezuela politics. The opposition, demoralized and disappearing into oblivion, needs to make people believe in an alternative if it wants to win (the 2024 presidential election). At this point, as usual, it seems there are too many questions and not enough answers.

 Polarization and over-politicization are fading. Anti-politics is on the rise again (Most Venezuelans identify themselves as ‘ni,ni’…neither,nor, rather than Chavista or opposition) and the performance of the primary candidates in polls is dismal. To win the hearts of voters in 2024 being anti- Chavista will no longer be enough. Venezuela has experienced a colossal collapse with few historical precedents. Such a panorama, economically and socially similar to a post-war country, demands bigger answers to it’s many questions :

 If the opposition wins would Venezuela return to bicameralism (two legislative chambers)?  How would they ensure new judges in the judicial system? What would PDVSA’s (Venezuela government-owned oil company) role be in a reconstructed oil industry? What will happen with the “Orinoco Mining Arc”? Are expropriated properties going to be returned to their original owners? Would they privatize CANTV (government-owned telecom), Corpolec (government-owned electric utility), and Hidrocapital (government-owned water service)? Is there a plan to attract professionals from the diaspora and tackle Venezuela’s labor deficits? Will there be a new constitution? Even symbols are in play… Are we eliminating the word “Bolivarian” from the country’s name? Are we keeping the eighth star on the country’s flag? (Chavez added a star) Will we have a Museum of Memory? (Confused yet?…Too many questions?)

 So far the only candidate with a clear plan is our personal favorite, Maria Corina Machado, who has maintained the same stance and remained true to her principles from day one. For her, Nicolas Maduro and Chavismo have no place in the future of Venezuela. Sounds like a plan to me.

 Then we have La Prensa Latina telling us that the head of Maduro’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, said he will consider a proposal by various opposition sectors to name a new board of directors for CNE (electoral council).

 Before anybody gets too excited, the last time the Chavistas made changes at the CNE to show how willing they were to make concessions, they retained a 3-2 majority so, in effect, the opposition gained nothing. (Not to mention there are many who questioned how anti-Chavista the two “opposition” members really are)

 And we have Reuters reporting that after being delayed, Chevron’s first cargo of Venezuela crude under it’s new license from the US Treasury Department, received in November, is on it’s way to Chevron’s refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi. A second tanker is still delayed due to the previously reported lack of dredging in the Lake Maracaibo navigation channel. Both shipments contain oil from storage, not renewed or increased production.

 Reuters also reports that Colombia and the ELN rebels are discussing an emergency meeting in Caracas after the Colombian government called off the bilateral cease-fire due to ELN’s claim the cease-fire was not agreed upon in the last round of negotiations in Caracas, in which the Maduro regime is acting as guarantor.

 Let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 12 continued…

 …Although the TSJ made numerous questionable rulings during the Chavez years not much was said due to the overwhelming Chavista majority in the National Assembly. When Maduro took over the reins of Chavismo following the death of Hugo Chavez things would begin to change.There would be no more pretense or subterfuge. The gloves would come off. To understand the TSJ under Maduro it’s necessary to take a good look at his president of the court (similar to the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court), Maikel Moreno.

 Moreno was convicted of murder in Bolivar state in 1987 while a member of DISIP, the Venezuela Political Police. It’s not clear if he ever served jail time. In 1989 he was involved in the murder of Ruben Gil Martinez in Caracas and has also been linked to the death of attorney Danilo Anderson.

 In 2004, in a recorded conversation, he pressured Caracas judge, Luis Melendez, to release Saul Cordero, being held on arms and drug-trafficking charges. Cordero was never officially charged, was released, and was later named police chief in the municipality of Caroni by the pro- Chavista mayor.He also worked in the early Chavez years as both attorney and judge on the same case with two different suspects. I guess when you are ethically bankrupt you can’t have a conflict of interest.

 In 2007, Moreno improperly released two murder suspects. He was also implicated in extortion rings and drug-trafficking in an investigation ordered by Chavez. When he was defrocked he reportedly said he wasn’t worried, his good friends Cilia (Maduro’s wife) and Nico (Nicolas Maduro) would take care of him…and so they did.

 In 2007, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, Maduro gave Moreno diplomatic posts in Italy followed by Trinidad & Tobago. Moreno also spent a lot of time in the Dominican Republic and Miami. When Chavez died in 2013 Maduro  called Maikel Moreno back to Venezuela and nominated him to serve on the TSJ.Two years later he named him President of TSJ. Chavez’s 1999 Constitution states that the President of TSJ is to be “of good repute”. This must be one of those things like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. “Good repute” must be in the eye of the former Marxist bus driver. In the two years leading up to his appointment as President of TSJ Moreno established a reputation for ruling on cases rejected by both attorneys and judges. It is also widely known that he has ties to corrupt billionaire, Raul Gorrin, who is facing money laundering charges. Sounds like “good repute” to me. Regarding Maikel Moreno, former judge, Luis Velasquez, said “The greatest affront to the people is to put a criminal in charge of the justice system.”

 More tomorrow….





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