Hold Everything!

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…Law 360 reports something we all knew was coming. The Third Circuit Court issued a temporary stay on Federal Court proceedings brought by a group of Venezuela’s creditors  as PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) appeals a Delaware Federal judge’s ruling finding it liable for Venezuela’s debts.

 The judge’s ruling paved the way for the auction of Citgo shares, Venezuela’s last substantial foreign asset. Just as Venezuela has had all their motions denied thus far, the appeals process should be no different.

 This “Hold Everything!” moment aside, it’s only a matter of time, when all appeals are exhausted, until the fun and games begin and Citgo, as we know it, ceases to exist.

 Then we have Reuters reporting that one of Venezuela’s opposition parties, Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), announced it’s officially replacing opposition leader and former “interim President”, Juan Guaido, as it’s candidate for the October 22nd primary with 46 year-old engineer and political coordinator, Freddy Superlano.

 In it’s official statement the party said Guaido could not represent the party from “exile” (he’s currently in the US).

 I guess Guaido wasn’t kidding when he said he wouldn’t represent his party in the primary nor in the 2024 presidential election against current president (dictator), Nicolas Maduro.

 No date has been set for the presidential election but I’m sure Maduro’s CNE (electoral council) will announce it sooner or later…whenever Maduro tells them to.

 Then we have BNN Bloomberg reporting that the Venezuela opposition has regained control of $347 million in previously frozen assets.

 The decision by the US State Department ends a lockout caused by a void in opposition leadership. The opposition replaced (as we always call him) opposition leader and former “interim President”, Juan Guaido, with a new president and appointed a council, known as CAPA, to manage and protect Venezuela’s foreign assets abroad.

 The 2015 National Assembly, recognized by the US and 50 other countries as the legitimate government of Venezuela (2015 was the last free and fair election in Venezuela), can now utilize these assets to fund government operations and for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.

 It is unclear if any of the $347 million is designated for the $3.2 billion UN-managed humanitarian fund which has been a point of contention between the Maduro regime and the Venezuela opposition.

 The fund was agreed upon by both parties in their negotiations in Mexico but has been slow in getting operational and the Maduro regime has demanded the fund be operational before they resume talks with the opposition regarding free and fair elections as well as a host of other issues (You know, little things like Human Rights violations).

 Then we have SANA telling us that the Foreign Ministers of Cuba and Venezuela joined in congratulating Syria on it’s return to the Arab League.

 Venezuela’s Foreign Minister said the move “comes in the interest of peace and stability in the region”. What are we in now, the second decade of civil war in Syria?

 Not really surprising that two countries run by Marxist dictators are congratulating another country run by a dictator. Those authoritarians stick together.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 10 continued…

 …With most of the population in, to use a “kinder, gentler” term, a food insecurity situation, this is a very effective means of control. Since the minimum wage is currently about five bucks A MONTH, and likely headed south, another effective means of control are the “bonuses” the government periodically puts out there. At Christmas it might be “The Baby Jesus Bonus”. We’ve also had a “Mothers Day Bonus” and others. The frequency of these is directly related to the government’s perception of the potential for unrest and the amounts, while seemingly substantial in bolivar terms, are usually a couple of bucks. It costs the government nothing as the bolivares are created electronically out of thin air and what’s the downside anyway? A more devalued bolivar? A couple of bucks is a big deal when you make five dollars A MONTH! So…maybe you tow the line.

 The May, 2018 elections, widely condemned internationally as fraudulent for other reasons, had a “Carnet” aspect. Politics (elections) in Venezuela have long been vote-buying bonanzas. Recently, with the government in control of almost everything, you might get cement blocks if you were building a house or there were free food giveaways. Now, with the card, vote buying is easy (and we can see what the government really wanted to streamline). There is no attempt to disguise it. Outside each poll location the government put “Red Point Kiosks”. As voters exited the polls they could register for “The Fatherland Prize”.

 Any new government initiative is run through the card. Government benefits and services may be billed as attempting to address a particular issue but will only help those with the card. They are also a useful tool for government-owned businesses. They can send a list of names to the government and find out anything they care to know about their employees. So far, the cards don’t have an RFID chip, which enables location tracking. The only reason they lack this is that it was prohibitively expensive so the government declined that option.

 Summary : Under “21st Century Bolivarian Socialism” nothing is ever as it seems or is proposed. The “Carnet de la Patria” was supposed to be a way to help the undocumented open bank accounts and vote. Strangely enough, they began exploring this after Chavez lost his first election when the people declined to grant him broader powers. It soon morphed into a government monitoring and control tool, and a very effective one with well over half the population enrolled.(Starvation will do that) The good news is that the government couldn’t afford to buy “The enhanced Big Brother Package” with RFID location tracking.They can’t pinpoint the exact location of card carriers…yet!!

 More tomorrow….

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