Maybe Now It Will Die

We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…Cryptopolitan reports that Venezuela is set to liquidate it’s national cryptocurrency, El Petro, according to insiders at Sunacrip, Venezuela’s cryptocurrency regulatory agency.

 Suspicions began to mount regarding the asset’s stability when it’s blockchain operations were halted in late May. All we can say is…”What took so long?”

 The Petro App, the platform created by the Chavistas for executing cryptocurrency financial transactions has been a fraud from day one, created because none of the existing platforms wanted anything to do with Maduro’s scam.

 We did an entire chapter on this farce in Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole so we won’t revisit it here except to repeat what the Washington Post said, “El Petro might be the most obviously horrible investment ever”. Maybe now it will die.

 Then we have La Prensa Latina telling us that Venezuela’s book sector (book stores, publishers, and distributors) has shrunk 80% since 2013, the year Nicolas Maduro took power, and the sector was already depressed during the Chavez years.

 The major blow to the book industry was the Chavista government policy banning books produced by private publishers in public schools. FYI, it’s a common practice across the socialist/communist spectrum to suppress history or rewrite it so it will reflect positively on their failed ideology.

 The other major factor in the downturn for books has been the overall economy under Maduro and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. Venezuela’s GDP contracted for eight consecutive years under Maduro and is down 80% since Maduro took power, yes, the same 80% contraction experienced by the book sector.

 Here’s another 80% number for ya’. The number of private businesses is down 80% under Chavismo. As Ian Flemming said, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

 And we have VOA reporting that the vaccine for HPV, a virus that can lead to cervical cancer in women and other cancers in men is neither available nor affordable in Venezuela.

 We can add that to the long list of vaccines which are neither available nor affordable in Venezuela which has led to the dramatic resurgence of diseases previously thought to be eradicated in the country before to onset of Chavismo and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 Now let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 16 continued…

 …Fact checking became a huge challenge without any independent media. When the government, in an attempt to prove that not all economic news was bad, reported coffee production at 126,270 tons it was way after the fact that the real number of 39,000 tons came out. On a personal note, I like to keep track of oil production figures as it accounts for 94%-96% of government revenue (official revenue anyway). It took me a while but I finally found a way to get verifiable numbers, not believing the government production figures. There’s a satellite tracking service that monitors tanker shipments and you can’t falsify actual tankers leaving ports so that gives you real export numbers. To nobody’s surprise their numbers are always substantially lower than what the government puts out there. If I have that much trouble getting real export numbers I can’t imagine what journalists go through trying to get the truth out. In 2018 reported on businessman Alex Saab and his ties to Nicolas Maduro and his family regarding the CLAP food program as well as the government housing program. The government banned further reporting by them regarding Alex Saab and began harassment tactics causing four of them to leave the country. It was subsequently reported that their information was accurate and the corruption of the CLAP food program became a huge scandal, over a year later.

 The only real-time reporting available to those without internet access (I’m talking about the truth here) is on the bus system (currently running at 10% capacity). Yes, to find the truth in Venezuela you take the bus and there, if you’re lucky, you’ll be exposed to BUSTV. A group of young people, realizing that many Venezuelans had no access to real news, began putting on impromptu pseudo news shows on busses utilizing cardboard cut-out TV screens. So far they haven’t been thrown in jail…but we’ll see…

 In 2019 Venezuela entered a new phase of free speech repression. On numerous occasions the National Guard blocked access to the parliamentary chamber by the National Assembly so they could engage in debate over serious issues while allowing Maduro’s ANC (constituent assembly) to meet in the same building. That year at least 32 journalists were arrested and illegally detained. The regime also has an alternative strategy when they don’t actually arrest or deport journalists. When journalists periodically have to return to their home countries, for one reason or another, as happened to Nick Casey of the New York Times, they are denied re-entry into Venezuela.

 The judicial system is, as you might expect, complicit in journalistic repression. After National Assembly members were allowed entry into parliamentary chambers journalists wanted to cover the proceedings but were denied entry by the National Guard. They petitioned TSJ (the Supreme Court) for relief but TSJ wouldn’t hear the case. When some of the same journalists flied a motion to re-open the investigation of attacked journalists the motion was denied. These are but two examples of what happens all the time.

 However, every now and then we get a glimpse into reality when the regime makes a miscalculation. Maduro surprisingly granted Jorge Ramos of Univision an interview at Miraflores, the presidential palace. The prevailing rationale behind the granting of the interview was that Jorge Ramos was widely known to be a critic of Donald Trump so maybe he would look favorably upon Maduro and lob up some softball questions…wrong!

 About 17 minutes into the scheduled one hour interview Ramos asked Maduro how he could deny there was a food crisis in light of proof like this, and he showed him a video on his ipad of people digging for food out of the back of a garbage truck. A furious Maduro stormed out and security stormed in. Ramos and his crew were detained, their equipment and devices confiscated, and they were deported. Normally only well scripted interviews were aired so Ramos said he doubted the interview would be seen, even referring to it as “my best interview nobody will ever see”.

 More tomorrow….

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