They're Still Coming

 We’ll  go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…The Tribune reports that nearly a thousand migrants that recently crossed from Guatemala into Mexico formed a group to head north in hopes of reaching the border with the the US. The group, mostly Venezuelans, carried a Venezuela flag with the phrase “Peace, freedom, SOS”.

 The article reinforced a point we’ve made numerous times. Venezuelan migrants previously sought refuge in other South American countries but increasingly are making the perilous journey through the jungles of the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama in an attempt to reach the US. There may have been less news about Venezuelan migrants recently but they’re still coming.

 The journey is not an easy one with migrants often targeted by kidnapping, extortion, and other violence (including murder). I’ll say it again, the Venezuela migrant crisis is way under-reported.

 These people wouldn’t be doing this if they had any other option. Clearly , remaining in Venezuela under the disastrous (brutal, oppressive, corrupt, and a whole lot of other bad adjectives) Maduro regime isn’t a choice  with the last number reported at 7.3 million Venezuelan migrants, the highest in the world, other countries in the region are overwhelmed.

 And all these leftist leaders in South America and around the world want to “normalize relations” with the Maduro regime…in the words of John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious!”

 Then we have Reuters reporting that at least 150 Venezuelan migrants have gone missing in the Caribbean sea off Venezuela’s north coast since 2015, according to the UN-IOM (United Nations Institute Of Migration).

 Of the at least 7.3 million migrants who have fled Venezuela’s Maduro regime and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism over 100,000 have traveled by sea to island neighbors like Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, and Cracao.

 It is not clear if the sea crossing is more dangerous than the overland route heading north which takes migrants through the Darien Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant crossings in the world. After years of silence from authorities, families of those missing are still waiting for answers.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 2 continued…

 …”The Guarimba”, as it was called, was exemplified by protesters carrying signs “Maduro, we’re hungry!” and some as simple as “Starvation!”. It was typically barricaded streets and burning tires, the common manifestation in Venezuela. The repression by the Maduro regime was brutal.

 Unfortunately for the Venezuelans the situation received very little international coverage. At the same time this was happening the Russians annexed Crimea so the focus of the world was thousands of miles away.

 Over the next year or so, stories surfaced about the lack of food and medicine in Venezuela and the Human Rights violations so then President, Barack Obama, initiated the first sanctions. They targeted individuals and were meant to get Maduro to address the situation. In keeping with his MO, Maduro denied the humanitarian emergency, blamed the dead and wounded in the demonstrations on right-wing conspiracy and US imperialism, and did nothing for the Venezuelan people.

 When Donald Trump became president he continued the sanctions and added more and more individuals over a two year period in an attempt to get Maduro to care for his people. The result was the same, more bluster and denial, and Venezuelans continued to die.

 In 2017 tensions boiled over and another round of mass protests erupted. The repression ratcheted up and 140 were killed, more than 1,500 were wounded, and thousands more were arrested. This time the world was distracted by North Korea firing missiles so, once again, Venezuela was a secondary issue. Conditions stayed the same for the Venezuelan people. The only change in behavior for the government was they finally defaulted on some of their bonds as the government was, for all intents and purposes, going broke. Due to oil revenues there was cash flow. There were also a number of countries and international organizations offering help for the Venezuelan people. Maduro still refused to do anything for his people, just more denial and bluster.

 With the individual sanctions having no effect on Maduro’s behavior the US, sensing the time was right due to selective bond defaults, sanctioned the bond market so the government couldn’t issue new debt and added more individuals to the sanctions list. The cash flow was still there as were the offers of international assistance with humanitarian aid but Maduro continued to ignore the needs of his people.

 The outflow of migrants which had been steadily increasing became a tsunami and for good reason. The situation for the Venezuelan people continued to deteriorate. In typical Venezuelan humor they called it “The Maduro Diet” with the average Venezuelan losing 20 pounds. Over the next year and a half over 3 million Venezuelans would leave.

 The sanctions kept ratcheting up now including the banking sector and more individuals. It was a measured approach designed to have an effect on the Chavistas and their irresponsible behavior while minimizing the effect on the general population. At each step along the way Maduro steadfastly refused to do anything for the Venezuelan people and they continued to die in ever increasing numbers.

 More tomorrow….


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