So...What Now?

 Let’s get to it…Consortium News tells us that in Late December the Venezuela opposition parties voted to oust Juan Guaido as “interim president” and dissolve his parallel government. The UK (United Kingdom…you know…England) government had recognized them as the legitimate government of Venezuela therefore the BOE (Bank Of England) refused to release the approximately $2 billion in gold Venezuela had stored in it’s vaults to Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas.

 Hearings went on for years with both sides claiming the right to control what happened to the gold, appealing court rulings, etc. Now, with Guaido gone and his parallel government dissolved the big question was, “What now? What happens with the gold?” Well, so far…nothing.

 The UK government still refuses to acknowledge Nicolas Maduro as the rightful President of Venezuela due to the totally fraudulent election that put him in office and his party, PSUV (the Chavistas), as well. More hearings are set for this year and with the global trend being to “normalize relations” with the Maduro regime (We here at TFT are not part of that trend) what happens to the gold is anybody’s guess.

 On one side you have those who say the gold could be used to support humanitarian efforts to help the Venezuela people. It is, after all, their gold. Skeptics, like us here at TFT, argue that Maduro and the Chavistas will just steal it as they have everything else in Venezuela. How else do you explain the fact that nobody knows how Venezuela’s gold reserves, repatriated from vaults around the world by Hugo Chavez, supposedly to protect it for “the people”, have gone from over $32 billion to approximately $4 billion? We’ll keep you posted.

 And speaking of humanitarian assistance for the Venezuelan people, Jorge Rodriguez, the head of Maduro’s National Assembly, (Now with the parallel government dissolved maybe we shouldn’t refer to them as Maduro’s National Assembly? Nah! They’re still just Maduro’s rubber stamp.) says talks with the Venezuela opposition on the creation of the $3.2 billion UN-managed humanitarian fund are progressing.

 The fund would consist of potentially unfrozen assets in bank accounts around the world. The Chavistas (Jorge Rodriguez) have previously stated that further talks with the Venezuela opposition (like the talks in Mexico that spawned the creation of this fund) on other important issues will not go forward until the fund is operational. A skeptic might think that they’re waiting for the fund to be operational so they can try to get control of the money…but I digress.

 Those other issues that are not being discussed are all the things the Chavistas have no interest in like free and fair elections, release of political prisoners, judicial reform, and so on. (You know, all the things that make the Chavistas who they are… including Human Rights violations, possible crimes against humanity, and so on…)

 Rodriguez offered no details on what progress had been made. The UN office in Caracas did not respond to requests for comment nor did the head of the opposition, living in exile in Spain. The opposition’s chief negotiator, Gerardo Blyde, previously indicated the proposed unfrozen assets could be moved in small tranches to protect it from creditors and the money is spread across many jurisdictions with different legal systems and regulations. It’s gonna’ be a while…

 Then we have BBC with an article that was primarily a human interest piece to illustrate the struggle of the majority of Venezuelans left behind by the Maduro regime’s fragile economic recovery after 8 consecutive years of recession and over 4 years of hyper inflation, the second longest period on record. They had a few interesting nuggets for us to chew on…

 One was about a former bus driver who gets a monthly pension of about $6 and survives on the $100 a month remittance sent by his daughter in Colombia. It’s a reminder that over half the households in Venezuela receive remittances from family members abroad who have fled 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 They had a sampling of food prices for some shop-bought items in Venezuela’s largest slum of Petare. Many Venezuelans rely on shop-bought items as there are no supermarket chain stores in the barrio and the Chavistas have destroyed public transportation with only one in ten buses in operation. One kilo of chicken fillets costs about $4.50, a kilo of local cheese goes for about $5.00, and a liter of fresh milk is about $2.50. With the monthly minimum wage at under $9 (government exchange rate) or $7 (black market rate) that means even at the higher rate you can buy one kilo of chicken fillets and one kilo of local cheese and that’s it, you’ll have to do without the milk…And that’s for the month!

 Economist Luis Vicente Leon sees a long road to recovery for Venezuela even with last year’s big economic growth number of 15% (although many believe that number to be inflated). To have the same economic situation as 2013 (the year Maduro took power) the economy needs to grow 346% or about 20 years of “great” economic growth. (FYI, the normal range for good economic growth in most countries is from 4% to 6%) If the country doesn’t solve Venezuela’s underlying structural economic problems growth is likely to slow down and stagnate. It looks like a very,very long “road to recovery” under 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 Then we have Workers World reporting that supporters of Alex Saab (a small group) gathered inside Grand Central Station in New York to denounce his imprisonment claiming Saab has “diplomatic status”. Saab (The architect of Maduro’s fraudulent CLAP government food program and other Chavista schemes) had his claim of “diplomatic immunity” denied in Miami Federal Court…just as it was in Cape Verde where he was arrested and subsequently extradited to the US. Our guess is that Saab must have a court date coming up, hence the orchestrated protest.

 And we have Pulitzer Center telling us that Venezuela does not publish data on incidences of Alzheimer’s disease. (They release no epidemiological information except their fraudulent Covid-19 numbers. The last Health Minister that released information on diseases in Venezuela was immediately fired.)

 There are no public centers available to diagnose or treat Alzheimer’s patients, nor are there facilities to house these patients and provide them with multidisciplinary care.Informal caregivers receive no support or resources from the government. There are some private care centers but they’re really just houses posing as care facilities and they charge anywhere from $400 – $3,000 a month, a lot of money in a country with a minimum wage of under $10 a month.

 We can add this to the long list of things the Maduro regime prefers to ignore…that would be anything that could be considered a problem…in the land of Chavismo and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism that would be basically everything.

 And we have Rio Times telling us that Transparency International says it’s Corruption Perception Index shows the fight against corruption in the Americas has stagnated since 2017, especially in Venezuela and Nicaragua, which are both under authoritarian regimes. We’ve previously reported Venezuela has been in the top five (or bottom five depending on how you look at it) of the most corrupt countries in the world for years now.

 Then we have France 24 reporting that the Iranian Foreign Minister met with Nicolas Maduro in Caracas to, in Maduro’s words, “…continue to strengthen technological, industrial, scientific, and cultural exchanges that benefit both peoples”. In their statement the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, “…emphasized the strengthening and monitoring of projects and accelerating their implementation as well as vigilance in defending national interests against external pressures”.

 It may take a while but the Iranians will eventually learn, as the Chinese did, (and we’ve said many times) the Chavistas screw everybody. If the Chinese had to give up on Venezuela what chance does Iran have? Oh, FYI, before coming to Caracas the Iranian Foreign Minister paid a visit to Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua.

 More tomorrow….

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