Reaching The Summit?

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…Star Tribune reports that Juan Guaido, Venezuela opposition leader and former “interim President”crossed the border into Colombia, on foot, to seek a meeting with international delegations gathering there for a conference focused on Venezuela’s political crisis.

 This comes as Guaido said last week threats against him, including possible arrest by the Maduro regime, have recently increased.

 Guaido has continuously been a critic of Gustavo Petro’s (Colombian President) policies toward Maduro. (They are both Marxists)

 When Petro met with US President Joe Biden last week he called for a gradual lifting of sanctions against Venezuela combined with “guarantees” for a free and fair presidential election in Venezuela while Nicolas Maduro is more or less demanding all sanctions against Venezuela be lifted or he and the Chavistas aren’t talking to anybody. Guaido, for his part, has been against the lifting of sanctions against Maduro…and there you have it.

 And in the “Well, that didn’t take long” category we have Reuters reporting that Venezuela opposition leader and former “interim President”, Juan Guaido, is now in Miami after being put on a commercial flight from Bogota by Colombia Migration authorities.

 Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said he had entered the country “inappropriately”. Guaido urged countries participating in the Bogota summit on the “Venezuela situation” he had hoped to be involved with to speak for Venezuelans in exile, being effectively “The voice Maduro wanted to take from me”.

 Representatives from the Maduro regime and the Venezuela opposition have traveled to Bogota and are expected to meet even though neither side is officially invited to the summit as it is supposed to be a conference for third party delegations.

 I guess the good news for Guaido is that he wasn’t forced to return to Venezuela. Does anybody else think it won’t be long before Guaido, a candidate for the opposition’s primary in October to decide who will face off against Nicolas Maduro in the 2024 presidential election (still not actually scheduled), is officially banned from participating by Maduro’s CNE (electoral council)?

 Then we have Newsweek telling us that an unnamed Venezuela official told Newsweek that in addition to sanctions relief a deal to release US prisoners is also on the list of Venezuela’s priorities ahead of the Bogota summit. He also expressed his government’s gratitude to Colombia President, Gustavo Petro, “without whom this initiative would not have been possible”.

 The Maduro regime is still angling for a deal to release Alex Saab (Once again, he was the architect of Maduro’s totally fraudulent CLAP government food program and other schemes and is currently awaiting trial in the US after being arrested and subsequently extradited to the US on money laundering charges).

 US authorities have, thus far, shown no inclination to release Saab until his trial is over. We can only hope the Biden administration adheres to this stance.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 8 continued…

 …I’m sure nobody will be surprised that the reason involves the military and smuggling. We already know that we have an Army General involved in running PDVSA and that the military is in charge of food distribution as well as medicine. Maduro’s CLAP government food program is run at the local level by the most powerful of the ‘colectivos’, his civilian militia of armed motorcycle gangs numbering in the hundreds of thousands. With cash being tight and those other avenues not producing what they used to how could he (can he) continue to keep the military happy? Since the military controls the border, except where it’s controlled by FARC dissident/ ELN guerillas from Colombia, who are in league with the Chavistas, smuggling is an easy task and with the price disparity between Venezuela and Colombia it’s quite lucrative.

 At a cost of $0.000001 per liter, or $0.000004 per gallon (the reference point for us gringos), an average tanker that holds 13,400 gallons the cost is about a nickel, yes, five cents per truckload! So let’s say you can sell it for 1/2 the legal price. At that rate each tanker truck is worth about $20,000. Not a bad return for each $0.05 invested.

 The only real issue for the smugglers would be supply. As we saw earlier regarding PDVSA, production is collapsing. A rational person would deal with the domestic supply issue first, which by the way is a requirement for membership in OPEC, of which Venezuela is a founding member ( All members must meet domestic needs before exporting, according to the OPEC charter). Even a rational crooked person would ensure that the smugglers have something to smuggle. It’s getting harder and harder for Maduro to keep the smugglers (the military) happy due to his determination to continue shipping oil/gasoline to Cuba, who keeps him propped up, dominating his internal security apparatus.

 While gas rationing is in place in several states, people still wait in line for days for their free gas in other states. At the same time Maduro is sending oil and gasoline to Cuba. When a taker captain refused to pilot his ship to Cuba, in light of US sanctions, SEBIN security forces boarded the tanker and replaced the captain with one more Chavista- friendly. Another sanctions avoidance method is for tankers to disconnect their transponders when they near other country’s national waters to avoid detection and therefore seizure. They have also had gasoline shipped direct to Cuba when their refineries couldn’t produce it.

 Summary : This shouldn’t take long. Gasoline has been more or less free in Venezuela for years. The price didn’t remain that low to benefit the Venezuelan people. As we’ve seen, Maduro shows nothing but disdain for them but he does need to keep the military happy. Funny how them being able to smuggle tankers to Columbia that cost a nickel and can be sold for $20,000 will do just that. With the Venezuelan people either subject to gas rationing in some areas or waiting in line for days to fill up in others, how can Maduro be shipping oil and gasoline free of charge to Cuba in return for his Cuban “advisors”? The Venezuelan people deserve the same commitment from their president he shows to Cuba. The problem for them is that the Venezuelan people don’t have anything Maduro needs. Elections are rigged so he doesn’t need their votes and the people benefiting from oil shipments and gasoline smuggling have proven more than capable of repressing dissent. To Nicolas Maduro the Venezuelan people seem to be a necessary evil.

 That will do it for this chapter of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole but we’ll have another one for you next week. Until then, we’ll have more current news for you tomorrow….

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