A Dose Of Reality

 We’ll get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “No Soap Box Here” shortly but first…Our friends at Caracas Chronicles did a piece on something that everybody’s heard about by now, the Watson Hotel protest in New York City. A group of male migrants, mostly Venezuelans, protested city officials transferring them from the hotel to “humanitarian emergency response and relief centers”.

 Our Venezuelan friends at CC made some valid points and asked some valid questions that you might not expect coming from Venezuelans but it’s, as they said, “Because even those of us who are pro- migrant understand that there is a line.” Well said!

 It is true that the City of New York has an open-door policy toward migrants, however, the projected cost of receiving the migrants bused in from the US/Mexico border is between $500 million and $1 billion and the city hadn’t previously budgeted for that expense.

 It’s important to keep in mind the reality that these migrants face. Finding affordable housing in the New York area is not and easy task and they do not receive their work permits right away. But considering they had been living in these hotels (the Watson Hotel isn’t the only one) since October we need to consider where the line is between the support a receiving country or community can provide and the responsibility of the migrants to create a new life in their new country.

 “I sometimes worry that the ‘asistencialista’ model (roughly translated : nanny state) that has been in place in Venezuela for 20 years (the over two decades of Chavismo) is the mindset they brought with them. Sometimes I worry that that they started their migrant journey with no plan in mind and thought all will be solved on arrival. Hoping this is not the case, ultimately, I think they need to understand that the so-called American Dream requires a lot of work and energy.” I’ll say it again, well said!

Next up we have Natural Gas World reporting that Trinidad & Tobago’s Energy Minister met with Maduro’s Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez and Venezuela’s Oil Minister in what is said to be the beginning of negotiations for Venezuela to export gas from it’s Dragon Field to Trinidad & Tobago, according to Venezuela state TV. Shell is also said to be a possible participant.

 In light of Nicolas Maduro’s bombastic diatribe about the US issuing licenses where Venezuela can receive no cash, calling it “colonialism”, it’s going to be difficult to come to an agreement.

 And we have this from the Jamestown Sun…A bill has been introduced in the Senate and is under discussion to prohibit county commissions and city councils from establishing development agreements with entities deemed “foreign adversaries” of the US.

 This is coming out of North Dakota where a Chinese company was recently prevented from going forward with a corn milling operation in Grand Forks, North Dakota. As you might expect, the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is on the list of “foreign adversaries” along with Cuba, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 16/ No Soap Box Here…

 No, I’m not referring to a couple of years ago when there was no detergent in Venezuela (yes folks, no detergent unless you had a black market supplier or maybe every month or two you could wait in line for eight hours to buy a couple of kilos). I’m talking about the figurative “getting on your soap box”. In the US it’s called “free speech”. It applies to individuals, journalists, media, everybody. In Venezuela it is a thing of the past.

 The repression of free speech in all it’s forms is in high gear in Venezuela but it didn’t happen overnight. As always, it began with a simple declaration that was accepted by everyone and didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. In 2000 Hugo Chavez was riding high. People were fawning all over him both domestically and internationally. He was fond of speaking for hours at a time going off on all kinds of rants and diatribes, sometimes for as much as 4-6 hours. Nobody was more enamored wit Chavez’s popularity than Chavez himself, so much so that he issued a declaration that all broadcast TV stations air his speeches live and in their entirety. There was no push-back by anyone.

 And so it began. It wasn’t a law enacted or anything like that. He just told the stations to do it and they did. Then, after a couple of years came the law, The Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, called the “Resorte Law”. It contained a lot of vaguely- worded restrictive rules on incitement of breaches of public order. The first offense carried a 72 hour suspension and the second offense would cause the broadcaster’s license to be revoked.

 It also contained language regarding material considered to be an affront to the integral education of children and adolescents. Violators would be fined between 1/2 to 1% of their gross revenue. It also required the broadcasting of governmental educational, informative, and public safety material, to be monitored and enforced by the Directorate of Social Responsibility.

 The “Resorte Law” was amended in 2010 banning content “that could incite or promote hatred”…”foment citizen’s anxiety or alter public order”…”disrespect authorities”…”constitute war propaganda”. Now call me crazy but I don’t think the odds of getting any kind of stay, injunction, or appeal on a decision by the bureaucrats overseeing compliance to the law would be very good. That’s the great thing about vague wording. The law means whatever they want it to mean…and don’t forget those TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) rulings…rulings favorable to the government, forty-something thousand…rulings contrary…ZERO!

 More tomorrow….

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