Too Blind To See

 We’re going to reprise our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment once again. It provides us with a good balance, when combined with current news, to see how the disaster of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism destroyed a democratic, emerging market country, continues to do so today, and by understanding this we can hopefully prevent it from happening elsewhere, specifically in the US.

 Even though I wrote it, each time I go through it I rediscover important things I had forgotten from Chavismo’s history as it was, and is, so pervasive leaving no area of life or society in Venezuela untouched. That’s why it takes us over four months to get through it. I hope you find it useful so sit back and enjoy the ride.

 We’ll get to chapter one, “A Way Too Common Conversation”, in just a bit but first… Eurasia Review had an Op Ed by Ferni Falana, a Nigerian Human Rights lawyer, with the headline “Ruling In The Alex Saab Case Ignores Compelling Evidence To Support Immunity Claim”.

 I hardly know where to begin. All the “compelling evidence” he cites has the same source, Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas. Quick refresher : Alex Saab was the architect of Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas totally fraudulent CLAP government food program as well as a scheme to defraud the the government’s housing project. He was arrested at a fuel stop in Cape Verde, Africa, detained and subsequently extradited to the US to face money laundering charges. Maduro and the Chavistas are claiming he has diplomatic immunity. (FYI, the reason there’s only one charge is that Cape Verde’s extradition policy requires that a detainee face only one charge in the country requesting extradition. There were originally 8 charges against him… or was it 9?)

 We won’t rehash everything here but suffice to say that this guy needs to familiarize himself with something more than Chavista propaganda, like the outstanding work by that exposed  both the totally fraudulent schemes involving Saab, Maduro, and other Chavistas in the food and housing programs. The evidence against Saab, Maduro, and the Chavistas is overwhelming and well documented. This is pure distraction. If Alex Saab really was a diplomat why was he not traveling on a diplomatic passport? There are a lot more questions as well…but I digress…

 The real story is that Alex Saab, Nicolas Maduro, and all the Chavistas involved in the schemes created by Saab, are criminals and all of them deserve to be in jail. This guy’s problem, as with most Maduro apologists and Chavismo in general, is that they are so wedded to ideology they refuse to objectively look at the facts. They are simply “Too Blind To See”.

 Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the former head of the ICC (International Criminal Court), Fatou Bensouda, while she was a citizen of Gambia, received her under graduate, graduate, and law degrees from Nigeria. She was a known Maduro apologist and slow-walked the ICC’s preliminary investigation into Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime for years so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical of anything pertaining to Nicolas Maduro (and Alex Saab) coming out of Nigeria.

 Next we have The White House saying in a press release the US President, Joe Biden, stated he will continue for a year the national emergency declaration with respect to Venezuela, originally from an Obama executive order in 2015.

 He cited the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of Human Rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and Human Rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protesters, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant government corruption.

 Just another reason for the Chavistas not to talk to the opposition as Chavismo has always categorized them as “Puppets of the colonialist, imperialist US Empire”.

 And we have Argus Media telling us that Venezuela has turned to importing naphtha from the US to upgrade it’s heavy crude as condensate shipments from Iran have lagged.

 Iran offloaded 440,000 barrels of condensate in January, down from 2 million last January. Chevron is picking up the slack having shipped over 1.5 million barrels since December, which wasn’t allowed before recent sanctions-easing.

 FYI, Since Iran and Venezuela signed a 20 year energy cooperative agreement in June, 2022, (You know, one of those “historic, strategic agreements”)  shipment of condensate from Iran is down.

 Then we have AP telling us that a Venezuelan businessman, Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino, facing conviction on bribery charges linked to PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company), killed his three year-old son before fatally shooting himself in a Miami luxury condo. Why can’t these guys that “can’t live with what they’ve done” just kill themselves and leave their family and everybody else out of it?

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 1/ A Way Too Common Conversation…

 As we pulled into the hospital parking lot I was taken aback…it was empty!

 “Just pull up over there at the far end past the morgue” directed Duglimar.

 “Where is everybody, Dugs?” (pronounced “Doogs”)

 “Didn’t you know? The hospital is closed. We’re going to that small building over there for administration. That’s where we get our yellow cards”.

 “I didn’t see anything in the newspapers or on TV. How can that not be news?”

 “The government controls the distribution of newsprint so the papers don’t report anything that’s too negative or they won’t get any paper, and you know what the TV coverage is like.”

 “Yeah, self-censorship or you get yanked off the air.”

 Duglimar shrugged her shoulders. “It’s not like it really matters anyway. In Venezuela you go to the hospital to die.”

 That conversation stayed with me for a while. The real striking thing was Duglimar’s “matter of fact” attitude to something that would horrify a non-Venezuelan…I mean really, “You go to the hospital to die.” In the words of Chris Rock, “I’m not saying I agree with it…but I understand.”

 It’s difficult for the Venezuelans to get too upset about any one thing in particular when they are constantly bombarded from all sides in every area of their life. They are too busy trying to survive to worry about something they perceive as beyond their control.

 So, what happened to Venezuela’s hospitals? After my conversation with Duglimar I knew I had to do some research. I went back to the beginning of Chavismo to try to get some kind of understanding.

 When Hugo Chavez came to power over two decades ago one of his major achievements was the Barrio Adentro (inside the barrio) Program. I, like most people, thought this was a good idea. The opening of thousands of small hospitals in poor neighborhoods and rural areas that previously had little or no access to healthcare had to be a good thing. What could have been something so positive turned into an abysmal failure due to a poorly conceived and even more poorly implemented plan.

 As I explain this I’ll try to be as brief as possible but there are a few factors that need to be considered so please bear with me.

 More tomorrow….

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