The Experts Were Right

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in just a bit but first…It seems like “The Experts” have been wrong about everything lately… Covid…inflation…I could go on. One area I’ve found “The Experts” to be pretty accurate is the oil and gas industry. It looks like “The Experts” were right about the Venezuela oil outlook for this year.

 Reuters reports PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) oil exports fell 14% in May shipping an average of 606,258 bpd (barrels per day). Their other exports of methanol, urea, and petroleum coke also fell to the lowest level this year shipping just 209,000 metric tons.

 We’ve previously mentioned that Venezuela exports over the last month or two were utilizing oil from storage, not production increases. Inventories of Venezuela’s flagship Merey 16 heavy crude fell to 1.2 million barrels in May, down from 1.89 barrels in April, and inventories of lighter crude were also down 44%.

 However, even with declining overall exports and stockpiles, exports to Cuba (Maduro’s ideological ally) were up, shipping 58,100 bpd in May versus 45,250 in April, for which they receive no revenue. This as Venezuelans wait in long lines to fill up their gas tanks.

 In other disturbing signals we have production down at the PDVSA/Chevron crude oil upgrader and a 2.1 million barrel shipment of Iranian condensate (needed to process heavier grades of crude) has been waiting for a month to discharge it’s cargo.

 Clearly things are not running smoothly at PDVSA amid the wide-ranging corruption probe (purge?) and it doesn’t bode well for Maduro’s goal of 2 million bpd this year. No real surprise there as he had the same production target last year and PDVSA didn’t even achieve a third of that.

 In a follow up Reuters reported that the catalytic cracking unit at Venezuela’s Cordon refinery, the second-largest in the country, has broken down (again) and paused gasoline processing operations. Critics of PDVSA blame lack of investment and mismanagement for the outages while the company (the government) says they are due to sabotage. Either way it doesn’t look like those lines at the gas stations will be getting shorter any time soon.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 14 continued…

 …Bachelet, in her former capacity as president of Chile, while not a real backer of Maduro, wouldn’t outright condemn him either, nor his regime’s behavior. Prior to her visit there was a pre-investigation in progress by the ICC (International Criminal Court) prompted by a scathing report by OAS (Organization Of American States) on Human Rights violations committed by the Maduro regime, that was officially presented to the court. So…what would she do? What would she say?

 If Maduro thought he would get a free pass he was sorely mistaken. The report stated that in the prior 18 months the Maduro regime had been responsible for 7,000 extrajudicial killings (some say it was 9,000). The Chavistas, as usual, responded with mixed messages. “The numbers are inflated or inaccurate” or “They were people resisting arrest or obstructing justice” or the ever-popular “She’s (Bachelet) a puppet of right-wing imperialists” and there was a lot more. The report was quite long and detailed but here are a few of the highlights…

 During the 2019 protests there were 52 protesters killed by government-backed colectivos (armed motorcycle gangs). As of May,2019  793 people remained arbitrarily arrested. In the four months from November, 2018 to February, 2019 there were 1,557 deaths in hospitals due to lack of supplies. The population suffers from chronic food insecurity and access to food is a Human Right. The government is systematically violating the rights of indigenous peoples through environmental destruction of their ancestral lands and even denying them governmental representation. In these respects and many more the government ombudsperson, who is supposed to speak on behalf of the people, is suspiciously silent…always.

 Summary : The US government and the CIA in particular have been widely criticized for backing the Pinochet regime in Chile a few decades ago, and rightfully so. He was reviled for his death squads and the fact that the US backed him is a stain on US foreign policy to this day, again, and rightfully so. That said, Pinochet, during his 17 years in power, was responsible for anywhere from 1,200 – 3,200 (The Chilean government says 3,000) extrajudicial killings. If the global community is still outraged at 3,000 killings over a period of 17 years that occurred decades ago how will they react to the Chavistas killing 7,000 in a year and a half? When the FAES drags a barrio resident out in the street in the middle of the night and shoots him in the head it’s part of the Operation for Peoples Liberation. When a colectivo shoots a protester it’s an extension of “Plan Zamora”, the 2017 plan authorizing crowd control by sniper, coordination of colectivos and national militia by the government, and military trials for civilians.

 Maduro and the Chavistas have nothing but contempt for the rule of law, societal norms, or even common decency. They have proven time and again they will do anything to stay in power. The migration crisis and all the other issues in Venezuela are nothing short of tragic. The “Three-Headed Monster” of Maduro’s security services is nothing short of terrifying.

 That will do it for this week’s installment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole. We’ll have more current news for you tomorrow….

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