W T F U !
We’ll get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “Setting The Record Straight” in a few but first…Our friends at Caracas Chronicles had a piece titled “Venezuela Opposition Primary Cheat Sheet”. The article gave us things we expected as well as some unexpected surprises regarding the Venezuela opposition’s upcoming primary in October.
The “Big Picture” stuff was, more or less, what we expected and that is that despite Nicolas Maduro’s abysmal approval rating (5% last time we checked), a populace that’s been starving and enduring an 85% shortage of medicine since 2014, almost the entire Maduro presidency (dictatorship), constant blackouts since 2019 and lack of access to fresh water, and basically the collapse of every area of life and society (No Human Rights, possible crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime, etc.), the outlook for the opposition is decidedly negative.
The reasons for this are all things we’ve touched on before. The opposition is, and has been for some time, fractured and disorganized. Two of their top candidates, Henrique Capriles and Juan Guaido, are banned by the Chavistas in charge of the government from holding public office. FYI, that’s how Chavismo deals with political threats. If they can’t force them to flee the country through threats and harassment they have them declared ineligible to hold public office.
Should either of them win the primary it would lead to what we here at TFT see as a predictable result, although it could play out in a couple of ways, both of them bad for Venezuela and it’s people.
The Chavistas could follow their MO and hold a totally fraudulent election and declare that “The people have spoken!”, not caring at all what the international community thinks, as long as they still have the backing of China, Russia, and Iran. We just saw them do that last fall in the legislative elections. The EU (European Union) and The Carter Center sent delegations to Venezuela to monitor the elections, supposedly to ensure they were free and fair. When both delegations declared the elections totally fraudulent the Chavistas kicked them out of the country, loudly proclaimed “The people have spoken”, and went on about their business. In this scenario…Maduro and the Chavistas win!
On the other hand, they could hold a free and fair election (at least by Chavista standards) in which the opposition candidate would win the popular vote only to have their victory annulled by CNE (electoral council) and TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court), and Maduro remains in office. (Don’t think it can’t happen. They did it in 2015 in the National Assembly elections and robbed the opposition of it’s super majority, overturning the victory of four representatives which were never replaced, which led us to where we are today).
I won’t even get into the possibility (probability…certainty?) that there will be a couple of candidates that are not endorsed by the opposition’s Unity Platform but are OPPINOs (Opposition In Name Only), allowed by CNE and the Chavistas to participate thereby dividing the opposition vote and Maduro is declared the winner as Maduro and the Chavistas proclaim “The people have spoken”. Once again, Maduro and the Chavistas win!
OK, we’re going to pause here with our reporting on the Caracas Chronicle article as it’s a long one and we want to get to our “regularly scheduled programming”. We’ll continue with the piece tomorrow but for now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…
Chapter 2/ Setting The Record Straight…
There is a lot of talk these days about sanctions.North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba… Before addressing the Venezuela sanctions I want to issue my disclaimer, the same one I always remind my family of when we discuss matters such as these. For the most part, I’m not a fan of most politicians, hence I’m not a “Trump guy” nor was I an “Obama guy”, nor a “Bush guy” (and certainly not a “Biden guy” as he represents everything wrong with politics and the political class) and so on. As a life-long fan of history, it seems most of “my guys” are dead. History is best served when you take the time to read and research what really happened, in as much as it’s possible, put it into context, and do your best to understand it whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not.
That said, there has been a lot of talk about the negative effect of US sanctions (and to a lesser degree EU sanctions) on the population of Venezuela. There is misinformation (I’m burned out on the term “fake news”) floating around that is being parroted by the media, members of congress, and at least one prominent economist. The claim is that US sanctions are responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 Venezuelans.
The first thing that strikes me about that statement is the number, 40,000. If we’re talking about the number of Venezuelans that have died from malnutrition/ starvation, lack of medicine/ healthcare, suicide (yes, suicide), and other related issues in recent years I would have to say the number is way low. From what I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot, the number is more like 300,000 and that’s not counting the 28,000 or 29,000 murders committed in each of the last couple of years (the numbers went down during Covid so we’re talking about 2018 and 2019).
The next thing about that statement is it’s simplicity. All sanctions are not created equal and in order to understand the impact of sanctions you have to know what they are, how long they’ve been in effect, etc…right?
The first sanctions against Venezuela were initiated by Barack Obama in 2015 . I guess most of the progressive crowd either don’t know this or have chosen to overlook this fact. At that time the Venezuelan people were already dying from shortages of food and medicine (not to mention the 1,400 extrajudicial killings committed each year by the Maduro regime’s security forces). Food shortages were the most prevalent at the time and cause massive demonstrations in 2014 in which 40 protesters were killed, hundreds wounded, and thousands imprisoned as the government repressed dissent.
“The Guarimba”, as it was called, was exemplified by protesters carrying signs “Maduro, we’re hungry!” and some as simple as “Starvation!”. It was typically barricaded streets and burning tires, the common manifestation in Venezuela. The repression by the Maduro regime was brutal.
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