A Bit Of Misdirection

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole for our wrap up of this week’s segment in a few but first…Reuters reports the number of migrant encounters at the US southern border from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela has dropped off dramatically since it was announced Title 42 (enabling the prompt return of migrants to their home/host countries) will remain in place until June.

 The Biden administration is touting the reduction in migrants from these countries as proof of success at the southern border. It’s a bit of misdirection. For the week ending January 24th just 115 migrants from those countries were encountered attempting to enter the country illegally, down from 3,367 for the week ending December 11th. While those numbers are way down the overall number of encounters at the US/Mexico border has remained constant.

 What isn’t being discussed is that encounters by migrants from Mexico and Central America have increased over that time frame, returning to the historical norm. Before last year’s huge increase in the number of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela most of the migrant encounters at the US southern border were from Mexico and Central America. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Venezuelans are still leaving their country. It’s just harder to find a place to go.

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that even with insurance from the Export Guarantee Fund, Cuba and Venezuela still owe $529 million to Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development for loans made during the Workers Party government when Lula da Silva was president. (That’s prior to him going to jail  for corruption and money laundering charges and his current term as president) The amount corresponds to 25% of the total amount lent to the two countries. I guess that was back before the world figured out that the Chavistas were the worst credit risk in the world.

 And we have the Jamaica Gleaner telling us that Jamaica Energy Minister, Daryl Vaz, says he had no knowledge, until it appeared in the Reuters article, that Jamaica was to receive a portion of the gas from the Dragon Field project between Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela.He promised an update soon but it may be “much ado about nothing” if the Chavistas aren’t interested in yet another deal involving the sale of Venezuela resources in which they receive no cash.

 Then we have CGTN reporting that Venezuela’s prolonged economic crisis is closing in on another set of victims, organ transplant patients. Those lucky enough get a transplant in the country are warning that a shortage of post-transplant medications is putting them at risk of losing their organs. Some are resorting to using expired drugs or are stopping treatment altogether.

 Now, lets head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 14 continued…

 …I’ve saved the best for last.The UNOHCHR (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) issued it’s long awaited report on the Human Rights situation in Venezuela in 2019 (There have been two subsequent reports and nothing has changed). The head of Human Rights for the UN (at the time), Michele Bachelet, visited Caracas for about two days. She met with various members of the government, including Maduro, members of the opposition, NGOs, and alleged victims or families of victims of Human Rights abuse. Maduro’s detractors were concerned that the visit was too scripted. Maduro supporters (including Maduro himself) seemed satisfied with the visit and stated that they looked forward to cooperating with the UNOHCHR on this important issue. (Sound familiar?) The report was highly anticipated for a couple of other reasons.

 Bachelet, in her former capacity as President of Chile, while not a real backer of Maduro, wouldn’t condemn his, nor his regime’s behavior. There was, at the time, a pre-investigation by the ICC into the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations, which has now progressed into a full-scale investigation into both Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity, prompted by a scathing report by the OAS (Organization of American States) that was officially presented to the court. So, everyone was wondering…what would she do? ….What would she say?

 If Maduro thought he would get a free pass he was sorely mistaken. The UNOHCHR report stated that in the 18 months prior, the regime had been responsible for approximately 7,000 extrajudicial killings (some said 9,000). The regime, as usual, responded with mixed messages. “The numbers are inflated and inaccurate” or “They were people resisting arrest or obstructing justice” or the ever popular “She (Bachelet) is a puppet of right-wing imperialists” and there was a lot more. The report was quite long and detailed but here are a few highlights…

 During the 2019 protests government-backed ‘colectivos’ killed 52 protesters. As of May,2019, 793 people remained arbitrarily arrested. In the four months from November, 2018 to February, 2019 there were 1,557 deaths in hospitals due to lack of supplies. The population suffered (and still suffers) from chronic food insecurity and access to food is a Human Right. The government was (and is) systematically violating the rights of indigenous peoples through environmental destruction of their ancestral lands and even denying them governmental representation. In these respects, and many more, the government ombudsperson, who is supposed to speak on behalf of the people, is suspiciously silent…always.

 Summary : The US government, and the CIA in particular, have been widely criticized for backing the Pinochet regime in Chile a few decades ago, and rightfully so. He was reviled for his death squads and the fact that the US backed him is a stain on US foreign policy to this day, and again rightfully so. That said, Pinochet, during his 17 years in power, was responsible for anywhere from 1,200 – 3,200 (the Chilean government puts the number at 3,000) extrajudicial killings. If the global community is still outraged at 3,000 killings, over a period of 17 years, decades  ago how will they react to 7,000 killings by the Chavistas in 18 months? When the FAES drags a barrio resident out in the street in the middle of the night and shoots him in the head it’s part of “The Operation for People’s Liberation”.  When a ‘colectivo’ shoots a protester it’s an extension of “Plan Zamora”, the 2017 plan authorizing crowd control by sniper, coordination of ‘colectivos’, and National Militia by the government and military trials for civilians.

 Maduro and the Chavistas have nothing but contempt for the rule of law, societal norms, or even common decency. They have proven time and again they will do anything to remain in power. The migration crisis and all the other issues in Venezuela are nothing short of tragic. The three-headed monster of the Chavista security services (Can we just call them “death squads”?) is nothing short of terrifying.

 That wraps up this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment. We’ll be back with more current news tomorrow….


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