Wanting It So Bad!

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…Spy Talk tells us that just before Christmas last year, Roger Carstens, the top US Envoy for Hostage Affairs, met quietly with Venezuela President (dictator), Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas.

 OK, so we already knew that and told you about it. What we didn’t know was that Nico offered a 9 for 1 prisoner swap deal if the US would release Alex Saab. This has been confirmed by three sources familiar with the matter as well as one source present at the meeting.

 There was also talk of the Chavistas freeing up to 200 jailed opposition members after a review of a list by the opposition of those they would want released (although I doubt if anyone takes that seriously).

 The Americans offered up by Maduro included the Los Angeles lawyer grabbed by the Chavistas at the Venezuela/ Colombia border, the former Green Berets nabbed in the failed 2019 attempt to overthrow the Maduro regime that was part Keystone Cops and part Marx Brothers, and even US fugitive, “Fat Leonard” Francis, who is the central figure in one of the largest corruption scandals in US military history. All these guys in return for “lil old Alex Saab”. This tends to confirm what we’ve suspected (or are certain of ) all along.

 Alex Saab, if you remember, is the architect of Maduro’s fraudulent CLAP government food program as well as the corrupt government housing scam and other schemes, who was arrested in Cape Verde, Africa, and extradited to the US where he awaits trial on money laundering charges. We’ve suspected that he knows “where all the bodies are buried” including implicating Maduro and other high-ranking Chavistas. If Maduro is willing to do a 9 for 1 deal (and possibly more) the Chavistas must really be worried about him making some revelations to US authorities.

 For now it appears nothing will happen but with Joe Biden you never know. The US-DOJ (Department Of Justice) strenuously opposed the US swapping convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout a.k.a. “The Merchant of Death” for WNBA star Brittney Griner but Biden overruled everybody and allowed the swap to go forward. We can only hope our senile old grandpa doesn’t pay any attention to this because it’s obvious…they are wanting it so bad!

 Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 16 continued…

 …Eventually, after passing through four different countries, the recording was recovered and the world got a glimpse of the real Nicolas Maduro. Ramos doesn’t believe he will be allowed back in Venezuela.

 With the appearance of Juan Guaido on the political scene in 2019, the level of  media repression, including issues like the Univision interview, reached new highs (or lows, depending on how you look at it). Whenever Guaido would speak at a rally or would lead demonstrators, the government blocked Twitter, You Tube, Google, etc. At times they would shut down the internet altogether, unless like me, you had satellite internet.

 On the morning of  the failed uprising of April,30th I was pleasantly surprised to be able to watch events unfolding live on CNN with my DIRECTV service. Well, that didn’t last long and the broadcast was yanked off the air. After a brief search I found coverage on BBC but that too was short-lived. Soon it seemed like everything was blocked although it came back bit by bit as it appeared the uprising would fail.

 It was for me a taste of what journalists in Venezuela must experience every day whether it’s putting out information or trying to get it. After the big blackout in March,2019 and the subsequent smaller blackouts (in many areas it would be a constant thing) it became hard for journalists to connect to the world. Besides lack of electric power and internet service they had to contend with the persistent shortages of food, water, and gasoline…just like everyone in Venezuela. In many parts of the country journalists couldn’t just jump in their cars to go cover a story. They jumped in their cars to go search for gasoline, food, water…whatever.

 A good comparison of Venezuela versus the real world can be found in lawsuits related to journalism. Various members of the regime file lawsuits against media outlets or journalists all the time in countries outside Venezuela and they are almost immediately dismissed. Compare that to the 2019 award of $5 million to Diosdado Cabello by a Venezuelan judge. Cabello, who most people believe is the most powerful man in Venezuela, sued the website La Patilla for posting a three year-old article from Spanish newspaper ABC  regarding his ties to drug trafficking. He knew he couldn’t get anything from a Spanish court but he could go after La Patilla in a Venezuelan court and get $5 million for “moral damage”.

 The courts are also helping the regime keep a lid on statistics they don’t want made public. The members of the National Assembly Finance Committee were stripped of their parliamentary immunity opening the door for the Chavistas to go after them. The committee is now missing five of  it’s twelve members of the fourteen who are in hiding or living in exile.

 Summary : So, where are we now? Well, the government currently owns 13 TV networks, 65 radio stations, 1 news agency, and 5 newspapers. Through Conatel’s public/private co-op they control 235 radio stations, 44 TV stations, and 120 newspapers. All this while Maracaibo, the country’s second largest city has NO NEWSPAPER!! This is due to the government withholding newsprint, which they control.

 We consumers of media were treated to the story of musician, Karen Palacios, who was being released from prison shortly after the UN-FFM (United Nations Fact-Finding Mission) released it’s report on Human Rights violations in Venezuela. In May, 2019, Ms Palacios was notified her contract with the National Philharmonic would not be renewed. She posted her frustration on social media, was arrested the same day, and imprisoned for violating…wait for it…the Anti-Hate Law! What wasn’t reported on government media was that she had been ordered released by a judge two weeks after her arrest. Nothing happened for over a month then, miraculously, she was released. By the way, she was released on probation and was prohibited from talking to the media. What more do you need to know?

 That will do it for this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment. We’ll be back tomorrow with a full slate of current news….

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