Another New Term

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…We have this from Confidencial. It seems we have another new term relating to governments in Latin America, “presidential militarism”. (If we keep this up maybe I’ll have a vocabulary equal to that of everyone’s favorite Marxist bus driver?)

 In the 20th Century Latin American governments tended to be either right-wing military entities or leftist civilian/political entities. In the 21st Century the military has returned to the political scene but it’s not to replace democratically elected presidents, it’s at the behest of those presidents as we have seen in countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Venezuela.

 These guys have all learned that if they give the military control of sectors of the economy and society that the civilian governments used to keep for themselves they can benefit from the rampant corruption in Latin American countries which will keep them happy. No need for a military takeover if they already control the “good stuff” anyway.

 In Venezuela they’ve taken it a step further and altered the military structure. There are now so many generals that no one of them can accumulate too much power.

 But never fear, those of you that prefer your dictators “old school”, you know, secret (or not so secret) police and such. Venezuela’s president (dictator), Nicolas Maduro, in addition to ceding control of 1/3 of his Cabinet Ministries to the military, still has, not one but three, internal security forces.

 One is more adept at enforced disappearances while another is better at torture and a third is known primarily for killing people.

 One of these “security officers” even told a journalist that they had a standing order when they went to serve a warrant. “If you don’t find who you’re looking for, leave a body behind.”

 That might account for the Maduro regime’s average of 1,400 extrajudicial killings per year since taking power in 2013. Kinda’ makes the “right-wing death squads” of the Pinochet regime in Chile, that committed 3,000 (some say 5,000) extrajudicial killings in his 17 years in power, seem tame by comparison.

Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 13 continued…

 …So let’s say you’ve avoided the other numerous pitfalls and although you have nothing your life and your family are still basically intact.What do you do? Unfortunately for “the walkers” the Venezuela migrant/refugee crisis gets nowhere near the media coverage as migration-related issues in Africa and the Middle East. While I have enormous respect for the various aid groups around the world trying to keep their fingers in the dyke the reality is that help will always arrive too slowly. It’s much easier to jump on the news and pledge millions of dollars for relief here or there than it is to deal with the logistics of actually getting the help where it’s needed. That said, Venezuelans aren’t just getting less news coverage, they’re getting less money. According to NGOs, aid groups in Africa and the Middle East typically operate on 50% of needs. Yes, it sucks, but that’s the reality. As bad as that is the groups dealing with Venezuelan migrants are operating on 21% of needs.

 The reasons for the disparity go beyond just news coverage. While all refugees are needy, there’s “needy” and then there’s NEEDY! As we discussed earlier, the people of Venezuela are literally wasting away, many existing on 700 calories a day (that’s if they spend every penny they earn on food). The 85% medicine shortage of a few years earlier inched up to 90% in 2019 and vaccines (other than Covid) are almost nonexistent. Add to that a population that used to get contraception provided by the government, which is no longer the case, and they can’t afford to eat much less buy condoms so, despite the horrible circumstances, pregnancies are on the rise. It’s a real head scratcher that with both infant mortality and maternal mortality skyrocketing people are still cranking out babies. (Good human nature lesson : People are going to do what they’re going to do regardless of circumstances.)

 So what effect is this having on support services, you know, a million extra people that are malnourished, unvaccinated, carrying diseases thought to be eradicated and/or are pregnant? Last things first, in the border areas of Colombia there were 1,457 emergency room visits in 2015. In 2018 there were 131,958. The fiscal burden on these hospitals increased 8,800%. 20% of these emergency room visits are pregnant women with a variety of diseases and neonatal problems that can’t be treated in Venezuela. As of 2018 over 900,000 vaccinations had been given. All school classrooms were (and are) above maximum levels. As of 2019, 62,000 Venezuelan children were (are) on Colombian government welfare.

 With all support services overloaded and no jobs available for the latecomers most people are using the border areas as a rest stop on the way to Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. They sleep where they can, scrape together whatever money they may be able to earn (prostitution is a popular choice given the uncommonly beautiful physical attributes of Venezuelan women), and resume their journey onward. Unfortunately for many, they arrive at the next border area and are confronted with the same issues they faced crossing into Colombia not to mention the hazzards and hardships of their cross country travel.

 The outlook for the near term is bleak. Various NGOs are predicting famine conditions in Venezuela. What a travesty for a country that produced 70% of it’s food pre-Chavismo and in 2019 imported 95% of it’s needs. We already know the oil business is falling apart. In June, 2019 oil exports were 600,000 bpd (barrels per day). Almost all of that (it actually isn’t enough to cover obligations) goes to China, Russia, and Cuba, none of whom pay for it. Caracas Capital estimates that between drug trafficking and gold sales the government takes in about a billion dollars a month. The Chavistas/ military will get almost all of that and the people of Venezuela continue to starve.

 Summary : As the numbers mount and the protests continue the government calls for more dialog. With each call for dialog, the stampede increases as do the protests although not on as grand a scale as before due to the repression. Lather, rinse, repeat. We have progressed (regressed?) from taking flights out to cars and buses to walking out. There have also been various shipwrecks of overloaded boats trying to reach nearby island nations.

 The nations surrounding Venezuela, and those not so close, are waking up to the realization that an open border policy sounds good until you’re confronted with an extra 4-8 million people you have to take care of. Systems are collapsing, xenophobia is rising, crime is rising, (everywhere but Venezuela where there’s nothing left to steal and homicide numbers are down due to the high cost of bullets) and now we’re seeing immigration restrictions and deportation of Venezuelans rising.

 Perhaps one of these days the international media will catch on to the severity of the crisis in Venezuela. The problem is that with civil wars or natural disasters you get some juicy photos. This is just a slow motion train wreck that many are all too eager to blame on “Gringo sanctions” when the truth, the reality, is that …cue the mantra…this is a man made disaster… a Chavista made disaster.

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Monday with our next Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment and more current news. Until then… Have a great weekend everybody!!!!

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