Apologists Vs Realists

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…BA Times tells us that the Venezuela issue exposed fissures at what was meant to be a display of South American diplomatic good will and cooperation (referring to Brazil president Lula da Silva’s summit in Brazilia).

 Lula described the situation in Venezuela as “a hostile narrative”. Argentina president, Alberto Fernandez, called for an end to international sanctions against Venezuela and said a “political solution” to the situation facing the country could not be “subject to external pressures or conditions”. Both their stances have been well telegraphed and come as no surprise.

 All those present did not, however, share the “rosy depiction” of the Maduro regime. Uruguay president, Luis Lacalle Pou, said he was surprised to hear what’s happening in Venezuela described as “a narrative”. He has previously described Maduro as a dictator (which he is). He also said “The worst thing that we could do is bury our head in the sand”. He’s a center-right guy so his stance isn’t all that surprising but he was not alone.

 Chile president, Gabriel Boric, a left-wing guy, said “Human Rights must be respected everywhere, always, no matter the political colors of the leader in power…It’s a reality…and I have had the opportunity to see it in the eyes and the pain of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are in our country today”.

 So now we have the two sides, Maduro and his apologists vs the realists. Maduro, for his part, responded saying “Chile and Uruguay have one vision and Venezuela (The Maduro regime) another”. I guess it all depends on whether or not you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, as Maduro, Lula, and Fernandez clearly are.

 Then we have Reuters telling us that Venezuela-related claims at US courts pursuing the assets of Citgo surpass $20 billion, according to Horacio Medina, chief of the board supervising the company.

 He says the assets of the 7th largest refiner in the US, owned by PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) are valued at $11 billion and that some of the claims can be negotiated.

 We’ve been telling you for a while that there are a whole lot more claims than assets for Citgo although we had it valued at between 8-9 billion dollars. No matter how you slice it, when the appeals are finished, Citgo is finished.

 And we have Natural Gas World reporting that Trinidad & Tobago is requesting the US government amend the terms of a license authorizing the joint development of a promising natural gas field with Venezuela.

 The US authorization for the development of the Dragon Field project near the maritime border between the two countries currently bans any cash payments to the Maduro regime.

 Trinidad & Tobago did not disclose the financial terms they are seeking and the US government and PDVSA did not respond to requests for comment.

 Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 14 continued…

 …Oh, and don’t think you’re safe just because you’re Chavista. Party affiliation won’t protect you if you don’t follow the party line. In February, 2015 Alcedo Mora disappeared. The day before he “went missing” he sent a text that SEBIN was following him as he attempted to investigate corruption at state oil company PDVSA…and he was Chavista! At the same time two brothers involved in community organizing with Mora also “went missing”. In another example, Ricardo Moreno, Venezuela Foreign Ministry North American Director, was grabbed by SEBIN and held for twelve days with various explanations offered including treason and trafficking of influences. Is there a pattern forming here… multiple explanations/ allegations without proof? When Moreno was released after being held for twelve days nothing more was said by either party, his lawyers nor the government. It was like it never happened. Speculation was that next time he would simply disappear.

 In April, 2018 the Maduro regime crossed another line as far as acceptable behavior goes. That’s when they officially endorsed kidnapping in order to extort compliance with their wishes. We discussed earlier the websites that provide Venezuelans with information on the black market exchange rate to buy and sell bolivars (local currency) and dollars. The standard excuses for Venezuela’s economic disaster are always various forms of “economic warfare” by the “right-wing imperialists”. In April, 2018 they set their sights on these websites as a form of “economic terrorism”. The Venezuela Attorney General went on TV and blamed these site owners for Venezuela’s economic problems and demanded they be jailed. The problem for him was they weren’t in Venezuela. That’s when the Chavistas embraced a new strategy.

 Carlos Marron, owner of webdolarpro.com, had resided in the USA for years and his website had been around for years as well, one of twelve popular sites for black market rates. DGCIM grabbed his father when he went out for his morning walk in Venezuela. When he didn’t come home his wife tried to find him and was apprehended by CICPC (the scientific police, whatever that is) and held for eight hours. Up in the US, Carlos Marron got a phone call telling him if he wanted his father out of jail he would have to pay and payment must be made in person. DGCIM were waiting for him at the airport in Caracas, he was arrested for financial terrorism, spreading false information (according to the Law of Currency Exchange), money laundering, and conspiracy.

 Lavrentiy Beria was the head of NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB in the USSR. Stalin once called him “my Himmler” in reference to the head of Hitler’s SS. It’s a subject of debate whether Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich (head of the Gestapo), or Beria killed more millions of people. Beria is reputed to have said, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.” That seems to be the Chavista mindset.

 I’ve saved the best for last. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a long-awaited report on the Human Rights situation in Venezuela. The head of Human Rights (at the time) for the UN, Michele Bachelet, visited Caracas for two days. She met with various members of government, including Nicolas Maduro, as well as members of the opposition, NGOs, and alleged victims or families of victims of Human Rights abuse. Maduro’s detractors were concerned that the visit was too scripted. Maduro supporters (including Maduro himself) seemed satisfied with the visit and stated that they looked forward to cooperating with the UN-OHCHR on this important issue. The report was highly anticipated for a couple of other reasons.

 More tomorrow….

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