In Ecuador They Listen

 We’ll get to our Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a bit but first…Cuenca High Life tells us that according to data from the UN-FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), as of September,2022 (the latest comprehensive report), food inflation in Venezuela was just over 110%

 When I look at the disaster that is 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism I like to compare Venezuela to Ecuador, which is also a socialist country. For Ecuador, the food inflation number came in at just over 7% for the same period. Venezuela’s overall inflation is estimated to come in at 400% for 2023.

 It’s important to remember that when Venezuela broke it’s string of 8 consecutive years of recession and pulled out of it’s over four year bout of hyperinflation (the second longest in history), Nicolas Maduro had the two guys from Ecuador that were responsible for turning Ecuador’s economy around advising him.

 Now that he’s reverted to his old ways the economy is contracting again and Venezuela is on the brink of hyperinflation again. Some people just can’t handle prosperity. In Nico’s case it’s because the policies responsible for the turnaround went against the ideology of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. We can’t have that now, can we?

 Then we have this from Reuters…We recently learned Venezuela’s coral reefs are at risk from a smothering coral that eventually destroys existing coral.

 We also know that they’re seeking assistance to get the certification that their buffalo herds, the largest in Latin America, are free of foot and mouth disease and they have been unable to obtain it thus far. They can’t export their buffalo meat and associated products without the certification.

What could possibly be next? Well, how about fusarium, a resistant fungus which wilts banana and plantain plants and infects the soil. The fungus, which dries out plants and is spread through infected soil, is affecting about 1,000 producers. The only way to eradicate fusarium is to rip out the plants and sow other crops like corn or grains which are not susceptible to the fungus.

 The good news is that the fungus has not yet been detected in Zulia, Venezuela’s largest banana and plantain growing state. The last thing the starving people of Venezuela need is to have an inexpensive food source removed from their table. Options are limited when the minimum wage is only $5 A MONTH!

 Reuters also reports that benefiting from the Biden administration’s sanctions-easing, Chevron has been shipping oil from it’s joint ventures with PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) and aims to recover $750 million in unpaid debts by year end and all $3 billion PDVSA owes them by the end of 2025.

 The initial shipments have rapidly drained oil inventories which built up for years. Now as they seek to increase exports they’re face with problems created by the Venezuelan government’s lack of dredging to maintain the primary navigation channels in Lake Maracaibo.

 An increase to exports will be limited by whether or not larger tankers can utilize these channels without running aground and PDVSA recently reported they can’t pay for dredging because they are “financially limited”.

 With inventories down, future exports will have to rely on production increases which will require additional infrastructure investment and Chevron has already said they won’t increase investment in it’s Venezuela joint ventures until the extension of sanctions-easing licenses are determined. It looks like the jury is out on sustainable export increases until these issues are resolved.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 11 continued…

 …With nobody, Maduro included, in favor of the TSJ being the most powerful entity in the country (this may be the only time Maduro sided with the international community), the TSJ reversed itself, “just kidding folks”, but it was too late. The people were fed up with the whole situation. The various factions vying for power while the Venezuelan people were dying in greater numbers for a variety of reasons all related to inept governance or just lack of governance. They took to the streets…again. It was all the same issues as the “Guarimba” of 2014, hunger at the forefront, with lack of medicine, healthcare, and pretty much everything else right behind.

 The demonstrations went on for four or five months at full strength and lingered after that. Maduro must have figured that the 40 protesters killed in 2014 didn’t get his point across so he upped his repression game this time. 165 protesters were killed, 1,958 wounded, and over 5,000 detained. Maduro, as usual, blamed all of Venezuela’s problems on the “economic war being waged against the Revolution” by the USA, Colombia far-right oligarchs, etc. He also blamed the same crowd for the violence associated with the protests and even the protests themselves. Certainly it was inconceivable that the Venezuelan people weren’t happy.

 As the days turned into months and the violent clashes mounted, along with the death toll, Maduro called for dialog. He abhorred the violence being perpetrated on the peaceful people of Venezuela by a few extremists. He failed to mention that his guys were the ones with the guns. The opposition didn’t want dialog, they wanted a recall election to oust Maduro, which was a foregone conclusion should free and fair elections be held.

 In 2017 the international community still hadn’t caught on to Maduro’s game and some of them haven’t to this day. When confronted with a threat to his regime he calls for dialog while he represses dissent (the usual killing, wounding, beating, and jailing) knowing full well that time is on his side. The opposition has shown in the past that given time they will always manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The dialog went on for months, changing venues, changing mediators, representatives shuffling in and out of meetings constantly telling anyone that would listen that progress had been made and they were optimistic about the prospects of the next meeting. The Dominican Republic, Mexico, former Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, and even The Pope continually parroted the same line.

 More tomorrow….


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