Monsters In The Shadows

 Since we finished up this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment yesterday it’s all current news today so let’s get to it. Our friends over at Caracas Chronicles had a rather lengthy and interesting piece so, as we usually do with such articles, let us give you the Cliffs Notes version.

 Over the past month or six weeks we’ve been covering the wide-reaching PDVSA (Venezuela government-0wned oil company) – Cryptocurrency corruption scheme investigation and have referred to it as a probe (purge?).

 We have seen more than 60 people detained and even long-time “golden boy”, former VP, former Oil Minister, and point man for restructuring Venezuela’s debt (even though he was prohibited by sanctions from talking to the bond holders), Tareck El Aissami, has fallen from grace. Come to think of it, there hasn’t been any news on him since he resigned about six weeks ago… The Public Ministry insists more detentions/ resignations are forthcoming. So, what does all this mean?

 Flashback : In the 1930s the Soviet leadership sought to implement their communist model by undertaking massive agrarian reforms. What is it with these communists and their fixation on agrarian reforms? They did it in the Soviet Union, they did it in China (killing millions through starvation), and they did it in Venezuela when Chavez expropriated 3 and 1/2 million hectares of farmland (there are 2 and 1/2 acres to a hectare for the uninitiated) of which only 35,000 produced anything after the seizure. But I digress…

 The result in the Soviet Union was catastrophic (as in China and Venezuela), crippling the economy and millions died of starvation. Joseph Stalin feared his lack of popular support might embolden his internal rivals and possibly lead to a coup.

 FYI, Communist reforms in the Soviet Union killed millions. Communist reforms in China killed millions. Chavismo (communist) reforms in Venezuela (Besides the agrarian restructuring, 85% of medicine disappeared and there was a resurgence of previously eradicated diseases) killed an estimated several hundred thousand (There are a lot less people in Venezuela than in China or the former Soviet Union). Moving on…

 Stalin’s move was his now infamous “purges” which saw hundreds of thousands locked up, executed, forcibly disappeared, or enslaved. In the end, there was no conspiracy! He was scared and seeing monsters in the shadows.

 Fast forward to today and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela president (dictator) and avowed Marxist…Is Nico seeing monsters in the shadows?

 It’s no secret that Maduro isn’t popular, not with the people, not even with his own party, but is his presidency (dictatorship) at risk? Probably not.

 What his risk is right now is the possibility of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re afraid someone will see you’re unpopular (He was recently booed at his own rally when he announced he wouldn’t be raising the minimum wage) and rise to challenge your power…so you throw a bunch of people in jail, it makes everybody nervous, and someone rises to challenge your power.

 There is no real threat to Maduro’s power but his paranoia may be getting the better of him. His internal security is comprised mostly of Cuban “advisors” so as long as he keeps shipping oil and gasoline to Cuba he’s OK there.

 The military structure is so fragmented (like 3,000 Generals for a relatively small army fragmented) he faces no threat there. The military is also in charge of food distribution (a good corruption mechanism) and Maduro’s “Mining Arc” (a good source of illegal revenue from gold sales) so he’s bought their loyalty for now.

 His three-headed monster of state security services has proven more than capable of keeping the people in line and putting down any unrest.

 In 2014 they killed 40 protesters in the “Guarimba”, primarily food protests. Then in 2017, when the protests escalated and were about basically everything (They were still starving, as they were during the “Guarimba” but now had no medicine, access to fresh water, and no reliable electric power), he upped his game and killed 140 protesters, wounded thousands and jailed many thousands more.

 Maduro may not know who he’s fighting, he may not be fighting anyone, but if he feels that there’s someone out to get him, and his recent paranoid actions suggest he does, we all know what will happen.

 Maduro is a “one-trick pony” (as are most dictators) so authoritarian measures will take over. No matter what happens we can be sure of the one constant that has been in place since Maduro took power in 2013. The Venezuelan people will continue to suffer.

 Our thanks to our friends over at Caracas Chronicles. We’ll be back with more current news tomorrow….

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