Another One Bites The Dust

We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole for our wrap up of the week in a few but first…The Independent reports that a federal judge in Miami sentenced Claudia Diaz, former Venezuela Treasurer and former nurse of Hugo Chavez, to 15 years in prison for taking bribes from media mogul Raul Gorrin in a currency exchange scheme. Her husband was also sentenced to 15 years and Raul Gorrin is currently wanted by US authorities.

 The case is one of many that have been brought, are ongoing, or will be brought against Venezuela “kleptocrats” (corrupt government officials)  but Ms Diaz is the first senior Chavista official to reject a plea deal.

 The US government’s case relied largely on the testimony of Alejandro Andrade, one of Diaz’s predecessors as Venezuela Treasurer and the guy who set up the original deal with Gorrin.

 Andrade was released from prison in 2021 after serving less than five years of a 10 year sentence on charges similar to Diaz’s (he took the deal). Diaz and her husband must also forfeit $136 million in cash and assets, presumably their “take” from the money laundering conspiracy.

 Attorneys say the couple will appeal. Good luck with that since Diaz did what Andrade did, with the same guy Andrade did it with! It’s just a matter of time until another one bites the dust.

 Then we have Trade Winds telling us that Russian media, citing various officials, says plans are underway for a joint Russian-Venezuelan dry bulk shipping company.

 Russia’s Agricultural Bank has already agreed to join the project. Agricultural Bank is currently shut out from the global inter-bank SWIFT payments system. (Are they going to use rubles, bolivares, the barter system…what?) Sounds like the perfect partner in a business venture for the Maduro regime.

 Then we have Law 360 telling us that a stockholder company that owns shares in a Venezuela state-controlled bank succeeded in having one of the bank’s attorneys tossed in a suit, alleging he failed to comply with two consent orders and breached fiduciary duty. As usual, we have to ask…Is anybody surprised by this?

 Then we have France 24 telling us that Venezuela President (dictator), Nicolas Maduro, launched his new TV show, “Con Maduro” (With Maduro”), a possible attempt to reach out to people in advance of next year’s proposed presidential election (no date scheduled yet).

 Maduro had a Sunday program, “Contact With Maduro”, from 2013-2017 that never garnered much of a following. It was renamed “Sundays With Maduro” in 2017 and then dropped the same year. No real surprise there as we’ve never seen an approval rating for Maduro higher than 15% and generally trends around 5%.

 There has been no indication that he’s following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who required all TV stations to broadcast anytime he chose to speak (and it was often), with broadcasts lasing up to six hours.

 I can’t wait for a ratings update. I’ll be following this as closely as the recent launch of Maduro’s PR campaign, “Super Bigote” (Super Mustache”), the cartoon superhero who relentlessly battles “imperialist oppressors”.

 Then we have Offshore Technology reporting that the US Treasury Department – OFAC (Office of Financial Asset Control) has extended protection for Citgo until July 20th preventing bondholders and other creditors from seizing Citgo assets to satisfy debt claims (and in some cases arbitration awards).

 A US District Court judge has already asked OFAC for guidance regarding the auction of shares. Since there is far more debt than assets (including shares) as soon as the Treasury Department lifts it’s protection, Citgo, as we know it, will cease to exist.

 FYI, Citgo is the last foreign asset of the Venezuela government that’s really worth anything other than some bank accounts and the gold in the BOE (Bank Of England), which is a little over a billion dollars, the rest of the gold having already been plundered by the Chavistas (Down to under $5 billion from $32 billion when Chavez repatriated most of Venezuela’s gold to “protect it for the people”).

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 7 continued…

 …The purpose of the FAO report was to assess the situation and make recommendations to implement to address the issues. Now call me crazy but if the Chavistas won’t listen to recommendations from their most important allies why would they listen to the FAO? Russia (gave a four-point economic plan to Maduro…number of points implemented…zero), Cuba (Everyone knows what an economic basket-case they are … or else why are there more Cubans in Miami than in Havana? Cuba is only 90 miles from South Florida. Oh, and by the way, the South Florida Cuban population are rabid supporters of the Venezuela opposition and staunch anti-socialists/ anti-communists) and China, I saved the best for last. In a November, 2018 economic cooperation conference a Venezuelan minister told his Chinese counterpart that the key for Venezuela would be more government control. Yu Bin, head of the Chinese delegation responded “We have found exactly the opposite to be true. 90% of the companies in China are private and the government does whatever it can to help and support their efforts.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

 Famine…Jesus…I think I hear that familiar refrain. These are conditions normally associated with war-torn countries or areas ravaged by drought or natural disasters. This is a man-made disaster, a Chavista- made disaster.

 P.S. Just so you know I didn’t forget, there are photos and videos everywhere showing things like the group of people that jumped a farmer’s fence and beat one of his cows to death with rocks, slaughtered zoo animals, the lady cooking a cat in the street, etc. I didn’t think we needed to get into that here …?? Oh, and don’t forget all the looting and hijackings. The most common sign on the side of trucks is “This vehicle carries no food”.

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with our next Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “Free Gas” and more current news. Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!


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