No Sanctions...At All!

 We’ll get to our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a few but first…This is a timely one as our Down The Rabbit Hole segment this week is about sanctions. La Prensa Latina has the latest demand from the regime of Nicolas Maduro. The Chavistas have already told us that there will be no talks with the opposition until the UN-managed humanitarian fund, agreed-upon at the last round of negotiations between the regime and the opposition, is operational. The measure, funded by $3.2 billion in frozen Venezuelan assets, will take some time to get up and running as the funds are in various countries with various jurisdictions and will also be slowed as it’s being done in small increments to avoid risk of seizure by creditors, and there’s a lot of them.

 As we’ve previously told you, the Chavistas are in no hurry to resume talks with the opposition since there really is no upside for them. Does anybody think they’re interested in free and fair elections with participation from Venezuelans abroad? Maduro had a 5% approval rating last time we checked and out of the 7.1 million Venezuelan migrants (and counting) it’s doubtful many would vote for Maduro since it was the Maduro regime and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism that cause them to leave the country.

 Now we have Jorge Rodriguez, speaker for Maduro’s National Assembly and head of the regime’s negotiation delegation, saying ” Venezuela is not going to sign any accord with that sector of the national opposition until it is 100% free of sanctions”.

 The Chavistas contend that sanctions are responsible for “crimes against humanity” and they are supported by the UN special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and Human Rights, Alena Douhan as well as a politically motivated report by the Washington-based Center For Economics ans Policy Research blaming more than 40,000 deaths in Venezuela on sanctions (completely debunked in this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment).

 The reality is that all the harm that has been done to the Venezuelan people is the result of practices and policies of Nicolas Maduro and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism, again, definitively proven in “Setting The Record Straight” in Down The Rabbit Hole. I guess that’s why the ICC (International Criminal Court) is investigating Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas for possible crimes against humanity and not the US government.

 That said, it looks like no negotiations with the Venezuela opposition regarding free and fair elections will happen any time soon…and that’s just the way the Chavistas like it.

 Then we have Fox News telling us that the UN restored voting rights for three countries, Lebanon, Gabon, and South Sudan as they have made sufficient contributions to have their rights restored. That leaves Venezuela as the only country out of the 193 member world body that is barred from voting.

 And we have TRT World telling us that in a prepared statement the Colombian government and the ELN rebels announced the next round of negotiations between the two sides will take place in Havana, Cuba although no date has been set.

 Both groups have credited the previous talks in Venezuela with advancing the process. My question is, “If the talks in Caracas were accomplishing so much, with the Maduro regime as guarantor, why switch to Havana? Could it be, as we expected, that the Chavistas had difficulty reconciling any support for Gustavo Petro’s Colombian government while they allowed ELN to conduct operations in Colombia and hide out in Venezuela?

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 2 continued…

 …The sanctions kept ratcheting up, now including the banking sector and more individuals. It was a measured approach, designed to have an effect on the Chavistas and their irresponsible behavior while minimizing the effect on the general population. At each step along the way Maduro steadfastly refused to do anything for the people of Venezuela and they continued to die in ever-increasing numbers.

 Finally, the US had to make a choice. Continue with the plan as is (was) and watch as the death toll mounted and the migration crisis infected (literally) the entire region or sanction PDVSA, the government-owned oil business thereby negatively impacting 96% of the government’s revenue (at least the legal revenue). The idea behind this strategy is that if Maduro (with his 5% approval rating) couldn’t afford to buy the support of the military he would be forced to step down. These sanctions were not initiated until 2019.

 When the sanctions were announced the Chavistas bemoaned the fact that they wouldn’t have the much-needed revenue to provide food and medicine to it’s people and the Chavistas were the first to use this number of 40,000 deaths caused by sanctions. Now this number is being tossed around by all the usual suspects, supporters of the Maduro regime or those blindly  wedded to socialist ideology. So, let’s recap…

 Since 2013 the Maduro regime had opportunity after opportunity to change policy and redirect funding to provide food and medical assistance to the Venezuelan people. Year after year they have done basically nothing as the death toll continued to mount. Only in 2019 did they allow a shipment of humanitarian aid by the Red Cross to enter the country…ONE SHIPMENT! Food and medicine was stockpiled in warehouses surrounding Venezuela with billions of dollars in commitments for more relief and Maduro allows ONE SHIPMENT! Other humanitarian aid shipments have been blocked or confiscated solely to profit the regime. (Can you tell I get a little worked up about this?) There has been some aid allowed in from China and Russia and some NGOs have been allowed to operate on a limited basis but it is always administered by the Chavistas and, more often than not, is primarily a corruption mechanism or an extortion tool used for political support.

 In 2019 we also saw another round of major protests and an uprising/coup attempt/ prelude to civil war depending on who you talked to. It was short-lived although there were five more deaths, 300 wounded, and about the same number of arrests with more arrests promised.

 More tomorrow….

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