The ICC Explained

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…Our friends at Caracas Chronicles had this…”Explainer : ICC Will Open An Office In Caracas”. OK, so we told you about ICC (International Criminal Court) opening an office in Caracas last week so why is this important? Well, there are a couple of things and part of it is not exactly what I thought it was.

 The purpose of the office in Caracas is to provide permanent technical assistance to the Maduro regime in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of 1998. Venezuela was a signatory to the statute just before Hugo Chavez took power and he ratified it in 2000 after taking power.

 This means that Venezuela agrees to the ICC having jurisdiction regarding crimes against humanity. Were it not agreed to Maduro could simply ignore the whole “Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity” deal.

 As it is, the ICC can only investigate when a state, in this case Venezuela, is “unable or unwilling” to do so themselves. Karim Khan, the ICC Chief Prosecutor, has determined that the Maduro regime is not pursuing these cases of it’s own volition (except for a few minor cases and not involving any high-ranking Chavistas) so he is offering “technical assistance” in compliance with the Rome Statute.

 I thought the ICC opening an office in Caracas was to pursue it’s own investigation but that is not the case. The real purpose is to remove the possibility for the regime to be able to plead ignorance in pursuit and punishment of criminals. Now, if the  Maduro regime doesn’t do anything it’s because they don’t want to. It also gives the ICC a first hand look at what’s really going on in Venezuela.

 Then we have Rio Times telling us that Luis Ratti, a politician with ties to Chavismo, has filed an appeal against the opposition primaries and claims that leading candidate, Maria Corina Machado, (Our personal favorite) has called for violence and chaos in the country.

 Ratti is presented as an independent candidate but has been accused of trying to split the opposition vote in previous elections. Now, Machado’s candidacy faces significant challenges from both the CNE (electoral council) and the TSJ (Supreme Court), both controlled by the Chavistas. This follows Chavismos’s predictable pattern, “If you can’t beat ’em, disqualify ’em”.

 Now let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 17 continued…

 …Air Canada tried various negotiating strategies to continue servicing Venezuela. In a last-ditch effort to continue doing business they asked the Chavistas, if they weren’t going to allow enough currency conversions to reduce the burdensome balance, at least allow them to pay for refueling in Venezuela in Venezuelan currency. Remember, at the time it was illegal to transact business in Venezuela in anything other than the bolivar (the law is what we say it is). The Chavistas said NO! That was the last straw for Air Canada and they discontinued service to Venezuela.

 Air Canada wasn’t the first to discontinue service to Venezuela and they wouldn’t be the last. Many tried to hang on as long as they could due to Maduro’s threat that any airline that completely stopped flying to Venezuela would not be allowed back in the country but most eventually threw in the towel. A market that used to be serviced by dozens of carriers was now down to seven or eight (depending on who you talked to). When the auto industry hit $4 billion as a group they followed the same pattern although most continued to maintain a minimal presence. There are almost no new cars produced in Venezuela now, down from a couple of hundred thousand a year. Ditto for the pharmaceutical industry and so on.

 We’ve touched on expropriations but here are some shocking numbers. During the Chavez years Venezuela expropriated 1,147 companies or their facilities. Under Maduro accurate information is harder to come by but estimates put the number of expropriations for the Chavismo years at between 1,800 – 2,000. Compare that to fellow socialist ally, Ecuador. Over the same time period they expropriated less that 10% of the Chavista number.

 How about a little comic relief? One trait that seems common among authoritarian regimes is their penchant for making demands on the international stage. Maybe it’s because they are used to being the big fish in a small pond but, whatever the reason, they seem to do it all the time. Here’s one of many examples from Chavismo…

 At one time Venezuela was a leading member of the economic/political bloc, MERCOSUR, referred to as “The South American Common Market”. A couple of years ago the member countries, most of whom had been screwed on deals with the Chavistas, voted to drop Venezuela from their organization. No Venezuela representative was invited to the meeting as the organization had made numerous overtures to the Chavistas to change their ways, to no avail.

 Venezuela’s VP was Foreign Minister at the time and traveled to the meeting site to demand entrance. She was greeted by a MERCOSUR representative who informed her that without an invitation she would not be admitted. The Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, was incensed and demanded (there they go “demanding” again) someone meet with her immediately! She was shown to a conference room and told someone would be in to speak with her. After a few minutes (I would have probably made her wait longer) the same woman that had shown her to the conference room returned. When Delcy demanded to know who was going to meet with her…immediately, the woman informed her…”That would be me”.

 More tomorrow….

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