We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a bit but first…Reuters reports that Venezuela’s opposition is discussing how it might move funds in foreign bank accounts into the proposed UN-administered humanitarian fund, including moving small amounts to protect it from creditors.

 The idea is that if money is moved in small amounts it would cost creditors too much in legal fees to be worth pursuing. Members of the opposition delegation to the talks with the Maduro regime in Mexico met with US officials to discuss how this might be done. The proposed $3 billion UN-managed fund is not yet operational and there is no timetable for it to be functioning due to situations like protecting the money from creditors and many jurisdictional complications

 The Maduro regime has said it has no interest in resuming the stalled talks with the opposition (on important issues like election guarantees for the upcoming 2024 presidential election, freeing of political prisoners, the Maduro regime’s deplorable Human Rights record, lack of an independent judiciary, etc.) until the fund is operational.

 The only thing the Maduro regime has to gain from further talks with the opposition is sanctions relief which requires cooperation from the US so this could take a while …Drip,drip,drip…

 Then we have Daily Mail reporting that Venezuela’s Maduro regime has freed former spy chief, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, after he spent nearly five years in prison. He immediately departed to live in exile in Spain accompanied by former Spanish President, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who had been working to secure his release.

 Torres, a former major general, was imprisoned after leading a group of Chavez loyalists calling for free and fair elections, in opposition to Maduro. Although he opposed Maduro he was never embraced by the opposition.

 And we have News18 reporting that the indigenous Yanomami tribe has had 570 children in the last year die from curable diseases like malaria and diarrhea as well as malnutrition and effects of mercury poisoning from illegal mining, according to the American journalism platform, Sumaunama. The report comes from the Brazilian side of the border with Venezuela but the plight of the Yanomami is ignored by both countries. Brazil’s new president calls the situation genocide and blames his predecessor while the Maduro regime in Venezuela has no comment on the issue.

Then we have BA Times reporting that Nicolas Maduro announced he will not attend the Celac summit in Buenos Aires as planned citing a “plan drawn up within the neo-fascist right-wing ” that he alleged would have carried out “aggressive actions” against his delegation. He was also scheduled to meet with new Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, which has also been canceled.

 And Law360 tells us that CITGO (Owned by Venezuela government-owned oil company PDVSA) wants a Delaware federal court to disqualify a special master organizing the sale of shares (to satisfy creditors and holders of defaulted bonds) claiming the master improperly advocated for the transaction in a private meeting with US officials. (Uhh…would that be the meeting that CITGO lawyers and/or board members wanted to sit in on and were denied?)

Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 13 continued…

 …Those are the numbers and while they are staggering, and growing (the largest migration in the history of the Western Hemisphere) they don’t tell the whole story. Just like the Syrian crisis the early migrants took flights or traveled overland to neighboring countries and were, more or less, self-sufficient. Eventually the Syrians just kept pouring out by any means possible and wound up all over Europe and these later migrants had nothing in common with the earlier ones as far as self-sufficiency goes. They were simply desperate people fleeing a country ravaged by years of civil war and most arrived at the doorstep of host countries with nothing, in poor health, and not much in the way of prospects.

 The most frightening thing about the Venezuela situation is something I’ve repeated in earlier chapters. Syria is suffering from years of civil war. Other countries have had large numbers of refugees due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, massive river flooding, etc. or famine caused by years of drought. All these situations are understandable. Venezuela’s situation defies belief as it is due to none of these factors or anything like them.

 Before the onset of Chavismo and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism people were not fleeing Venezuela, THEY MIGRATED TO VENEZUELA! In the latter 20th Century 15% of the Venezuelan population were immigrants coming from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Lebanon, Syria, and people of Jewish heritage. There were also a number of Canadians and Americans as well as from anywhere that companies that invested in Venezuela originated. Many of the earlier immigrants established businesses or were professional people. Most of those have now returned to their country of origin but it didn’t happen overnight. People were reluctant to give up on businesses they had invested a good portion of their lives (and resources) building. A good example is the seventy year-old Portuguese woman who recently returned to Portugal. In Venezuela she owned an accounting firm and employed 10 people. In Portugal she is a cleaning lady. Now don’t get me wrong here. It’s not a knock on cleaning ladies but a cleaning lady is like an independent contractor. In Venezuela this woman had 10 other people and their families tied to her success, and had for years. When she finally had to give it up that meant they had to as well. Some professional people are fortunate enough to find work in their countries of origin in their chosen professions but those are few and far between. There are Venezuelan doctors and lawyers all over the world washing dishes. And those left behind are nowhere near that fortunate.

 The earlier “escapees”, those first 695,000 migrants prior to 2015, left by plane and most, having the financial wherewithal, took their families with them. As the migrations ramped up over the next few years the situation changed drastically on several fronts.

 The next few years were primarily what we’ll call the “middle escapees”. This group contained the majority of Venezuela’s middle class as well as those who for one reason or another stayed another couple of years. Unlike round one many of these people, while by no means destitute, had more to consider financially and this fostered change beginning with destination and method.

 The “middle escapees’ began going overland, primarily to Colombia, and on to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, etc. Some drove their own cars and others took buses. This was a far cry from the wealthier “group one” just heading to the airport, family in tow, and jumping on a plane to Spain. Another big difference was that the second round often couldn’t afford for the entire family to go. Some would choose to leave the elderly behind, often because they didn’t want to leave, and in many cases the children would stay behind with their grandparents. The prevailing opinion was that there was less risk to the children and they would be sent for as soon as the mother and father got established. Another common method use by those with limited resources was to stay put and send the young adults abroad. Over half the families in Venezuela have at least one family member abroad sending remittances monthly to help their families survive.

 More tomorrow….

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