All About Alex
We’ll get started with our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment for this week in a few but first…Daily Mail reports that authorities in Venezuela arrested Colombian businessman, Alvaro Pulido, and six others as part of the sprawling investigation (purge?) into corruption at PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company).
Pulido is a fugitive from the US, wanted for money laundering in a separate case and is noteworthy due to his ties to Alex Saab, the disgraced Colombian businessman and Maduro ally, currently detained in the US and awaiting trial on money laundering charges as well.
This presents an interesting plot twist in a couple of ways. Is this related to the $350 million siphoning of funds case brought by US federal prosecutors in Miami in 2019? We don’t know at this point since charges against Pulido have not been disclosed.
It will certainly have an effect on the Saab trial. John Feely, former US Ambassador to Panama and a man with decades of experience in Latin America says “With Pulido’s arrest, Saab’s defense begins to crumble. He will now have a hard time insisting on diplomatic status when his business partner is facing corruption charges in Caracas.”
Joe Schuster, an attorney for Saab, said the investigation into Pulido had “absolutely nothing” to do with his client. A group pushing for Saab’s immediate release issued a statement in Caracas expressing total support for the latest crackdown and distancing the “diplomat” from Pulido.
A federal District Judge in Miami has already ruled that Saab is unable to shield himself from criminal charges and must stand trial (In other words, “Forget about that phony claim that Alex Saab was traveling on a ‘diplomatic mission’ when he was arrested in Cape Verde, Africa and subsequently extradited to the US.”)
It is also worth remembering that the evidence against Saab on money laundering charges is overwhelming as is the evidence against him as the architect (Can I say “co-conspirator”?) of Nicolas Maduro’s totally fraudulent CLAP government food program and the fraud relating to the Chavista’s government housing program.
Going forward, as details emerge in both cases and how they do, or don’t, relate to each other, it will be worth watching how they do or don’t relate to Maduro and other high-ranking Chavistas. This is really all about Alex now.
Then we have Reuters telling us that PDVSA and it’s joint ventures shipped 774,420 bpd (barrels per day) of crude in March, it’s highest total since August, according to company documents. (We usually wait for 3rd party confirmation before we believe the numbers reported by PDVSA as they typically overstate them)
The reinstatement of several export contracts after the January freeze by new PDVSA boss, Pedro Tellechea, is credited for the increase. Now we just have to see how the latest freeze due to the corruption probe impacts the numbers.
Now let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…
Chapter 7 “The Real War”…
Almost from day one of his tenure as president (dictator) Maduro has referred to “la guerra economica’, the ‘economic war’ being waged against Venezuela. I would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate my bipartisanship with the Chavistas. I totally agree that there was been an economic war being waged against Venezuela. Unfortunately it’s the economic war being waged by Chavismo against the people of Venezuela.
Many people like to, more or less, give Hugo Chavez a pass when it comes to the horrific situation in Venezuela. I am not one of them. Chavez planted the seeds of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism and was the beneficiary of historically high oil prices and unprecedented (and unnecessary) borrowing which enabled him to delay the disastrous consequences of his policies. Chew on this :
There is no better means to control a population than food insecurity. It’s hard to focus on much of anything when you’re busy scrounging for something to eat or trying to scrape together a little money to buy some food. It’s certainly challenging to find the energy to protest when you’re weak from missing meals so your children can eat. This is the situation in Venezuela, and has been for many years.
Pre-Chavismo and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism Venezuela produced 70% of it’s food and imported 30%. Over the years of “La Revolucion” the 70/30 split reversed to 30/70 a few years ago and today produces almost nothing. It was easy enough to see the signs of what was coming. I remember seeing a video of a Hugo Chavez rally from a square in Caracas. He pointed to a building and shouted to his supporters, “Who owns that building? We’re taking it for ‘The Revolution’!” Remember Margaret Thatcher saying that the problem with socialism is that sooner or later they run out of other people’s money? Chavez got it cranked up early taking from everyone to the cheers of his supporters. In the over two decades of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism the Chavistas have reduced the number of private companies in Venezuela by 80%. Now, of course, all those companies were not food-related but many of them were. And one area he went after was all food related, agriculture. Those cheering crowds would soon disappear… along with their food.
Venezuela has an abundance of arable land so it has always produced a sizeable quantity of fruits, vegetables, and grains as well as raising a lot of livestock. That is, until “The Revolution” came along. An easy target to please his cheering throngs was dormant farmland. Early on Chavez went after the farmers saying he was going to free the people from the oppression of those greedy elitists. They had so much land they couldn’t even use it all! Uhh…Hugo…have you ever heard of crop rotation so the soil can rejuvenate? I guess not.
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