Violators - Part 1

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first we have a piece from our friends at Caracas Chronicles that’s kinda’ long so we’ve broken it down into two parts, one today and one tomorrow…The headline read “A Simulation of Justice : How Venezuela Tries to Fool the ICC”. While attempting a narrative change over high-profile extrajudicial killings (Remember, the Maduro regime’s security forces commit over 1,400 of these a year), the Maduro regime uses the Attorney General’s office to slow the ICC’s work.

 Over five years after the killing of 20 year-old student, Juan Pablo Pernalete, his parents met in court 10 of the 13 National Guard members investigated for the case. The other three were absent without notice. The judge had refrained from issuing arrest warrants and had rescheduled the preliminary hearing 10 times. The prosecutor pressed manslaughter charges against two men, both absent from the preliminary hearing (Only in Venezuela can you be having a “preliminary hearing” after five years), and citing insufficient evidence, filed the cases of the remaining 11 National Guard members. According to Public Ministry interviews with fellow National Guard members, the man who fatally shot Juan Pablo in the chest with a teargas canister is not under prosecution. The government’s original version of events was that fellow protesters killed Juan Pablo with a ‘cattle gun’.

 If this is how the government handles a very public, high-profile case you can imagine the challenges faced by families seeking justice in lesser-known cases. Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, shortly after taking office in 2017, announced he was “reopening” the investigation because his predecessor had manipulated evidence. (That  would be Luisa Ortega Diaz, who established that Juan Pablo was mortally wounded by a teargas canister, shortly before she was fired and fled the country fearing retribution). This case and two others, that of Captain Rafael Acosta, and that of councilman Fernando Alban are but three of many cases that typify the Maduro regime’s approach to justice.

 Acosta died of injuries sustained while in custody of DGCIM (Part of Maduro’s “Three-headed Monster” of security services). The government’s original version was he sustained the injuries in a fall. (He was wheeled into court for his hearing and the judge was so shocked by the obvious signs of torture he ordered him taken to a hospital immediately after weakly crying “Help”). He subsequently died of those injuries.

 In Alban’s case he plunged to his death while in custody of SEBIN (Another of Maduro’s “Three-headed Monster” of security services). The government’s original version was he was despondent over his arrest and committed suicide by jumping out of a 10th floor bathroom window. The version of events was changed when authorities were informed that the bathroom on the 10th floor had no windows.

 We’ll continue this piece tomorrow but for now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 17 continued…

 …My personal favorite was 2017. That was the year that, in addition to the usual economic rebound claims, Maduro laid out his plan to recover production. I know, it’s hard to beat the solutions of urban farming on the rooftops of Caracas or that Venezuelans  shouldn’t view their cute little bunnies as pets but as 2 and 1/2 kilos of meat but this was a “comprehensive plan”. It was called the “15 Motors of Productivity”. It was hailed as the strategy that would allow “The Revolution” to finally win the “economic war” being waged against them.

 Each category, such as agricultural, industrial, technological, and so on, was referred to as a motor of productivity and a chief was assigned and committees were formed. Maduro loves committees and ministries. Hugo Chavez had 11 ministries. Maduro has, at last count but there’s probably more, 32 ministries. Anyway…Tareck El Aissami, Maduro’s ex-VP, was put in charge of the project and all the chiefs would report to him. You know him, the guy under indictment in the US with all the ties to drug- trafficking and terrorism. He’s also the guy that was put in charge of restructuring Venezuela’s debt, forgetting that since he was under sanction personally the bondholders were not allowed to be in contact with him. Sounds like just the guy for an economic turnaround project.

 After the fanfare and the photo ops there was a period where the “15 Motors” were referred to constantly. To this day they are still referenced on the government’s website however, after the initial media blitz, the whole thing just, well… kinda’ went away. It disappeared. No announcements from the chiefs, Tareck, Maduro, nothing. No statement of any kind. As we know, production continued it’s downward spiral.

 Perhaps one day Maduro will connect the dots between work and productivity. The ongoing power crisis forced the government to shorten workdays to 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM and that’s on good days. When there’s a widespread blackout workdays are simply cancelled. Workdays are also frequently cancelled to extend holiday periods in an attempt to boost Maduro’s popularity (5% approval rating last time we checked). Without work there is no productivity and Chavismo’s “shared prosperity” is now “shared poverty”.

 Hey, did you know that back in the day the “Concorde” flew to Caracas?

 This will tell you everything you need to know about the corruption of Chavismo. With virtually no economy to speak of Venezuela still ranks #8 in the world in private jet ownership.

 Here’s something you just don’t think about. Venezuela used to produce a lot of zinc. Zinc is used in coffin liners. With the drop in zinc production there have been coffin waiting lists for a while which creates a problem due to the extended time bodies must be stored, not to mention the power problems. The good news is that the coffin rental business is booming. Due to the shortage, coffin prices are up and most families can’t afford to buy a coffin. They just rent one for the service to keep up appearances. After that it’s a bag or a box. I would say “Is nothing sacred?” but we’re talking about Chavismo so it doesn’t apply.

 In our discussion of the lunacy of TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) this one got lost in the shuffle. In 2009 the TSJ imprisoned a judge for “spiritual corruption” because Hugo Chavez didn’t like her ruling that a prisoner had to be released because, according to law, the time limit for holding him in custody had expired.

 More tomorrow….

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