Ask The Question Already!

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…BNN Bloomberg reports that Pedro Tellechea, Venezuela’s Oil Minister and head of PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) announced they plan to issue a license to Eni (Italy) and Repsol (Spain) to export natural gas. He also said they had already signed an agreement with the companies to export natural gas liquids. He said the start date for exports will “depend on the speed of the investment they will disburse”. Eni and Repsol did not respond to requests for comment.

 Maybe they’re afraid someone will ask the question, although I seem to be the only one asking it, “Did the Venezuelan government receive cash for the last crude shipment that you delivered to Europe, as they had previously demanded?”

 Remember, after the first shipment of crude oil was delivered to Europe, part of a sanctions-easing agreement that allowed Eni and Repsol to deliver crude to Europe as long as Venezuela received no cash, only debt-reduction, the Chavistas demanded all future shipments be paid in cash.

 This led to a four month pause in shipments at a time when Europe needed oil and gas due to it’s over-reliance on Russia for oil and gas that was halted because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 Then, after the four month pause, Eni and Repsol began shipping Venezuela crude to Europe again but it was never clarified whether the shipment was for debt-reduction, as required by the sanctions-easing agreement, or if the Chavistas received cash, as they had demanded.

 The EU hasn’t confirmed anything nor have Eni and Repsol. The Chavistas haven’t confirmed anything nor has the Biden administration, and why wouldn’t they want to clarify the situation?

 Could it be that the Europeans caved to the Chavista’s demands and found some clandestine way  to pay the Chavistas because they really needed the oil?

 If that’s the case, and it seems likely, it would be a violation of the sanctions-easing agreement which would jeopardize the subsequent sanctions-easing agreement for Chevron allowing Venezuelan oil to be shipped to the US, again, for debt-reduction only just like the Eni and Repsol deal.

 I want the truth! Or at least somebody should be asking the question! Until this question (unasked) is answered Eni and Repsol should not be allowed to ship Venezuelan natural gas or LNG…period!

 Then we have Reuters reporting that when the US Court of Appeals granted Venezuela a temporary stay while it reviews the pending auction of Citgo shares it left 6 companies waiting to be added to the list of creditors participating in the proposed (and very likely) auction.

 The 6 companies hold arbitration awards that total about $2.6 billion that will be added to the billions of dollars in claims of those already awaiting the decision that may come as early as June.

 Horacio Medina, head of a board supervising Citgo, said “This is just a temporary lifesaver for us”. When (some say “if” but not many) the auction is green-lighted, since the outstanding claims far exceed the asset value, Citgo, the 7th largest US oil refiner and owned by PDVSA, as we know it, will cease to exist.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 11 continued…

 …Then the Chavistas killed it! They petitioned the TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) to set aside the results of four elections, three of which were won by opposition MPs (members of parliament). The TSJ, which we’ll cover in detail in the next chapter, is Chavismo’s “rubber stamp”. They did their job and suspended the four MP’s victories until the allegations could be properly investigated. They entered the limbo-land of any anti- Chavismo entity. For a variety of ever-changing reasons/ rationalizations/ explanations/ whatever… nothing further was ever decided so their election was never approved by the TSJ nor was it denied. They were prohibited from taking office but were not replaced in fresh elections…ever!

 Without the missing MPs the opposition had an imposing majority in the National Assembly but fell short by a seat or two of the 2/3 requirement for super-majority powers. They couldn’t unilaterally oust TSJ judges nor Nicolas Maduro through a recall election. When the new assembly took office the next month things would get contentious.

 The action began just before the new assembly was slated to be sworn in. The outgoing Chavista MPs, in a preemptive strike at the last minute, replaced 13 judges on the TSJ that they (Maduro) considered not sufficiently pro- Chavista even though they always ruled pro- Chavista. The good old days of Chavismo being in total control of the three main branches of the government were coming to an end, at least temporarily. Maduro also issued some last minute decrees utilizing his emergency powers granted by the outgoing National Assembly, perhaps fearing resistance from the new assembly.

 The games really kicked into high gear when the new assembly took office. They refused to acknowledge the ruling by the TSJ and swore in the four disputed members anyway. The minority party, PSUV (the Chavistas), protested and a protracted back and forth began. The TSJ ruled that any laws passed by an assembly containing a disputed membership would be annulled and so on and so on. This continued for the next year or so and meanwhile conditions for the Venezuelan people continued to worsen. Then the TSJ went too far, which for Venezuela is saying something.

 In 2017 the TSJ announced the National Assembly would be stripped of it’s powers and they would be assumed by the TSJ. Although this was a blatant violation of the Constitution, Maduro and the Chavistas violated the Constitution constantly so it’s hard to figure why everyone went crazy, but they did. I guess Maduro didn’t want any competition to his rule by decree due to the emergency powers that were no longer granted by the National Assembly but powers he granted to himself and were upheld by the TSJ. Like so many things Venezuelan, it was a combination of the classic Laurel and Hardy routine, “Who’s on first”, with a little Marx Brothers thrown in.

 More tomorrow….

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