The Biggest Theft Ever?

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in just a bit but first…OCCRP reports that leaked documents show Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, struck several wasteful deals including one that allowed Belarus to avoid paying $1.4 billion in oil it received from Venezuela.

 The oil agreement from 2010 allowed Belarus to receive oil from Venezuela with payment terms to be covered in a follow-up agreement which was never finalized and the $1.4 billion hasn’t been paid to this day.

 There is also the issue of the Venezuela government paying a Belarusian state-controlled company $120 million for the construction of thousands of apartments that were never built. What’s that old saying? “A million here, a million there, and soon you’re talking about real money.”

 After Chavez died in 2013 Minsk (Belarus) gave up any pretense of repaying the money. Is anybody surprised by this?

 Remember, under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro Venezuela paid $50 billion for power generation projects that, to date, have produced ZERO kilowatts of electric power.

 It’s not hard to figure out why we here at TFT believe that the plundering of Venezuela’s assets and resources (not to mention the billions and billions of dollars in illegal asset seizures currently in litigation in courts around the world) will go down as the biggest financial crime in the history of the Western Hemisphere and possibly the world.

 Just a quick look at the math…Venezuela produced well over 3 million bpd (barrels per day) of oil when Chavez was president and for years the oil price was over $100 a barrel…and a lot of that money simply disappeared. And don’t forget about Venezuela’s gold reserves, down from $32 billion to well under $5 billion and nobody seems to know where that went either. There are many more examples.

 How anyone views the Chavistas and their 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism as anything but a bunch of criminals who deserve to be in jail is beyond me.

 Note: That’s just the financial crimes. Let’s see what the ICC (International Criminal Court) comes up with in their investigation into the Maduro regime’s systematic Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. The evidence against them (like the regime’s yearly average of 1,400 extrajudicial killings since Maduro took power in 2013) is by all accounts (except the Chavista’s) overwhelming.

 Then we have reporting that FAB (Brazilian Air Force) destroyed a small aircraft, on the ground, used to smuggle gold out of the Yanomami indigenous lands in Venezuela’s Roraima state. Two people were arrested in connection with the illegal runway.

 Brazil’s recently elected leftist president, Lula Da Silva, has ordered the closure of Amazon airspace on the Brazil side of the border and the immediate removal of illegal miners from Yanomami lands, which encompass both the Venezuela and Brazil sides of the border.

 In February an intense police operation destroyed 200 camps, seized 84 boats, two aircraft, 172 engines, as well as materials, tools, and machinery used by illegal miners.

 It appears that Lula is far more serious about addressing the humanitarian crisis facing the Yanomami than his counterpart, president (dictator) Nicolas Maduro, in Venezuela who constantly professes his love for the Yanomami and all indigenous peoples and does nothing to help them while enabling illegal mining. Good on ya’ Lula!

 And we have Rio Times telling us that Venezuela’s Transport Minister announced that Conviasa (Venezuela government-owned airline) has formally started a new air route between Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela and Manaus, Brazil.

 This is part of Conviasa’s expansion plan for connecting the two countries to facilitate tourism. I understand more flights between Rio and Caracas or to Margarita Island but Puerto Ordaz and Manaus? I’ll believe it when I see the numbers since Conviasa has a history of announcing new routes only to discontinue them in short order. Until then it’s just Maduro regime PR happy talk.

Now let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 7 continued…

 …And the Hugo Chavez plant, which hasn’t produced a single grain of local rice, was just the tip of the iceberg. CAMC was paid over $3 billion for projects that were never completed. As with all other Chavismo- related frauds this is one piece of a complex puzzle. PDVSA Agricola, a new unit developed by Chavez to boost agricultural production, handled the contracts.The money went from the China Development Bank to Venezuela’s development bank and was doled out from there. Remember, 60% of Venezuela’s government spending goes through FONDEN, a government entity set up by Chavez which isn’t subject to oversight, so the forensic accountants have their work cut out for them. So far, $32 billion has been tracked plus another $6 billion from an infrastructure fund set up by Chavez. The ongoing investigation has already revealed dozens of people with millions of dollars going to each of them. In one of the interviews it was said, “These guys were carrying around briefcases full of contracts”. It’s worth noting that Venezuela state-run media has yet to report on any of this.

 In another example of the complete disdain “The Revolution” has for the people is, at the time of this writing (in 2019) we are in the second week of a hunger strike by former PDVSA workers. They are protesting the government’s lack of response to their requests for money promised them by Hugo Chavez so this goes back a ways (Maduro took power in 2013). Funny thing is that the money he promised them was put into an account that was supposed to pay them in dollars. The government is using (used) out of date exchange rates from the time of the agreement and is doling out a meager amount to them in bolivares, so it’s a win/win for Maduro. He’s fulfilling the promise made by Chavez (technically) and with the favorable rates he’s using he’s paying out almost nothing. It’s somewhat of a double whammy for the workers. They’re on a hunger strike while their families are starving!

 Surely, with a situation as serious as a starving population the government would be taking some steps to address hunger. Well, yes and no. Here are a couple of recommendations from the government…One is their urban farming initiative. Residents in cities like Caracas should grow their own vegetables on balconies and roof-top gardens. I’m sure that will more than make up for the lost production of the expropriation of 3 and 1/2 million hectares of farmland. Another proposed solution regards the protein shortage in the average Venezuelan’s diet as beef, chicken, etc. are beyond the means of all but the wealthy. It’s rabbits! They are a popular pet in Venezuela so the government says you shouldn’t view them a cute little bunnies but as two kilos of meat!

 More tomorrow….


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