A Chavismo Investigation

 We’ll get started with our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a few but first… We have Rio Times reporting that the Venezuela National Assembly (the Chavistas) has established a commission to review statements by former US President, Donald Trump and his administration officials. They aim to document instances of perceived US aggression towards Venezuela, potentially leading to international legal action against the US.

 The commission was initially formed in response to Trump’s publicized intent to seize Venezuelan oil and has expanded it’s scope to investigate alleged US plans to commit crimes against humanity targeting Venezuelans.

 Also under review are statements by former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Security Advisor, John Bolton, and Senator, Marco Rubio, who publicly acknowledged considering military intervention in Venezuela. The ultimate goal is to bring a case before the ICC (International Criminal Court).

 This is yet another example of the Chavista mindset (and their actions within Venezuela). Since there is no free speech, no free press, nor independent judiciary in Venezuela, if you speak out against Chavismo (the Maduro regime) they will take legal action against you (Remember, the law is what they say it is) and you will be hurt financially and/or possibly thrown in jail for perceived transgressions they can make up as they go along thanks, in part, to vaguely-worded laws like the “Anti-Hate Law”, which they use all the time. Since they can do as they please inside their borders they must think they will be taken seriously outside the country.

 The reality is that courts around the world, almost without fail, rule against the Maduro regime, more or less constantly. That’s probably why Diosdado Cabello, head of the Chavista’s political party in the National Assembly and considered by many to be the most powerful man in Venezuela, brought his $5 million defamation suit against a Spanish media outlet in a Venezuela court and not in Spain. FYI, the Venezuela court awarded him the $5 million but the judgement isn’t recognized anywhere else.

 In light of this I doubt the Chavistas would have much luck approaching the ICC, unlike the real investigation the ICC is conducting into alleged Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime, an investigation grounded in reality, based on things that were done, things that actually happened, not something somebody said.

 Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole

 How an emerging market democratic country was destroyed by 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 Chapter 1/ A way too common conversation

 As we pulled into the parking lot of the hospital I was taken aback. It was empty!

 “Just pull up over there at the far end past the morgue” directed Duglimar.

“Where is everybody, Dugs (pronounced Doogs)?”

 “Didn’t you know, the hospital is closed. We’re going to that small building over there for administration.That’s where we get our yellow cards.”

 “I didn’t see anything in the newspapers or on TV. How can that not be news?”

 “The government controls the distribution of newsprint so the papers don’t report anything that’s too negative or they won’t get any paper and you know what the TV coverage is like.”

 “Yeah, self-censorship or you get yanked off the air.”

Duglimar shrugged her shoulders. “It’s not like it really matters anyway. In Venezuela you go to the hospital to die.”

 That conversation stayed with me for a while. The real striking thing was Duglimar’s matter-of-fact attitude toward something that would horrify a non-Venezuelan. In the words of Chris Rock, “I’m not saying I agree with it…but I understand.”

 It’s difficult for Venezuelans to get too upset about any one thing in particular when they are constantly bombarded from all sides in every area of their life. They are too busy trying to survive to worry about something they perceive as beyond their control.

 So, what happened to Venezuela’s hospitals? After my conversation with Duglimar I knew I had to do some research. I went back to the beginning of Chavismo to try and get some kind of understanding.

 When Chavez came to power in 1999 one of his major achievements was the Barrio Adentro (inside the barrio) Program. I, like most people, thought this was a good idea. The opening of thousands of small hospitals in poor neighborhoods and rural areas that previously had little or no access to healthcare had to be a good thing. What could have been something so positive turned into an abysmal failure due to a poorly conceived, and even more poorly implemented, plan.

 As I try to explain this I’ll attempt to be as brief as possible but there are a few factors so please bear with me.

In the early years of building up the program oil prices were beginning what would be a ten year run of rising prices hitting all-time highs and remaining up there for years. For an oil-dependent economy that should be a good thing.

 In the early days of Chavez’s tenure oil production was also high (3 and 1/2 million bpd, barrels per day, compared to 720,000 in 2019 and lower today).

 At the same time, Chavez struck a deal with Fidel Castro to supply Venezuela with 25,000 Cuban doctors in return for oil shipments both at the time and in the future.

 So, the money is rolling in and you have cheap labor to staff the program. It should have been a slam-dunk to set up a program that was almost indefinitely sustainable and would benefit the Venezuelan people for generations. The only way this could fail would be an unprecedented series of mistakes, miscalculations, and levels of greed and corruption never seen before in Venezuela.

 More tomorrow….

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