Playing A Game

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…Latin America Risk Report tells us that the Maduro regime is playing a game. The idea is to secure a Chavista victory in the upcoming 2024 presidential election through shady tactics but not outright voter fraud, as occurred in 2018, which might allow for diplomatic progress and possible sanctions relief.

 The most recent controversy is over the plan to replace authorities at the CNE (electoral council) with the First Lady in charge of the replacement process. It is driving distrust in the process among the public and division among the opposition.

 For Maduro that is exactly the point. If he can create some public outrage and get the opposition divided and distracted with a loud and noisy controversy it works in his favor. He might even accomplish a boycott by the opposition, as they’ve done in the past with disastrous results, so the best thing the opposition can do is ignore the noise, unite behind a single candidate (We suggest Maria Corina Machado, currently leading in the polls) and do it’s best in the 2024 election.

 The we have CNN reporting that US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Roger Carstens, was back in Venezuela for discussions about the safety and welfare of US nationals wrongfully detained in Venezuela, according to a State Department spokesperson.

 No further details were released but we can only hope this doesn’t mean that Joe Biden is going to do a prisoner swap deal for Alex Saab, the architect of several of Maduro’s corrupt and fraudulent schemes, currently awaiting trial in the US on a money laundering charge. Say it ain’t so Joe.

 Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 17 continued…

 …As badly as Chavismo crippled production in Venezuela you might think imports would be up. The stuff has to come from somewhere, right?  Well…no. In 2012, when the economy was headed towards trouble but still in fairly good shape due to the massive borrowing and high oil prices, the import numbers were up. Contrary to all their “smoke and mirrors” statements about increasing productivity the Chavista economic model was to import whatever they needed and pay for it with oil revenues and money borrowed from the Russians and Chinese. 2019 import estimates called for import numbers to be down about 83% from 2012 levels. So, they’re not producing goods domestically and they’re not importing them. Where are they getting what they need? Short answer, it’s a “Let them eat cake” kinda’ deal. Chavistas drink champagne while the rest of the population struggles to find water.

 Oh, and just so you know, I didn’t forget about exports. The 2019 exports were estimated at about $21.8 billion, down from $98 billion in 2012. This leads us to the precipitous drop in GDP. According to a July, 2019 IMF report, for the period of 2013-2018 the Venezuela economy contracted by 65%. Overall, the economy went from $350 billion to $70 billion under Chavista stewardship. As I’ve said before, these are numbers reserved for countries ravaged by war, natural disasters, etc. For Chavismo it’s business as usual.

 In case you didn’t know, Venezuela used to have an impressive amount of gold reserves. As recently as 2011 they had over $30 billion in gold in vaults around the world. To great fanfare, Chavez repatriated almost all of these reserves, supposedly to protect it from those who would “sabotage The Revolution”. The cameras were rolling and the flashes were popping as the gold arrived, was loaded onto trucks, and driven through the streets of Caracas in a parade-like or circus-like atmosphere. One had to wonder where it was going and more importantly what would happen to it (as if we didn’t know). That over $30 billion is now down to under $5 billion.  If it weren’t for the narco-trafficking money coming in those reserves would be gone too.

 This one is self explanatory…In 2018 suicides were up 500% in Venezuela.

 We already know the Chavistas are ignoring the health and welfare of the children of Venezuela, for that matter everyone in Venezuela who isn’t Chavista, but let’s stay with the kids. What about their education? Forget about the fact that as soon as Chavez took power one of his first moves was to replace all the school books with the new “Chavista-Revised” versions of everything. How about just getting the children in school? Chavez did a good job in the beginning of seeing that all children had access to schools. Just like every other aspect of 21st Century Bolivarian Sosialism it turned bad, and when it did it turned really bad. Check this out…

 As of June, 2019  78% of children did not attend school.

 67% of teachers did not attend on a regular basis.

 87% of schools didn’t comply with the national school food program.

 Of those that do comply, 96% didn’t meet the nutritional standards of the program.

 More tomorrow….

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