New BFFs

 We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…Offshore Technology reports that PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) signed two new contracts to export petroleum coke. This comes after they suspended a contract with Maroil, owned by a long-time Chavista ally.

 PDVSA aims to export 1.6 million tons of pet coke in 2023 with over one million tons going to Letif Petrol, a Turkish entity. The second deal is with Reussi Trading based in St. Vincent and The Grenadines.

 The leaders of the two countries are political allies of Nicolas Maduro so it looks like the Chavistas are switching from the “old guard” to the new “BFFs”.

 Then we have Rio Times telling us that according to Ali Padron, Venezuela Minister of Tourism, the nation’s tourism industry has recovered to 80% of it’s previous capacity. Venezuela witnessed 650,000 international tourist arrivals in 2022 with projections for the current year at more than one million.

 I’m really just passing this along because it’s out there but according to my sources things in Venezuela, tourist-wise, are pretty much the same as they have been for years.

 A good example is what used to be my favorite tourist beach on Margarita Island, Playa el Agua. There is hardly anybody there and when I used to frequent the place there were thousands of people there daily.

 You do the math…one beach… thousands of people a day… 365 days in a year… Kinda’ makes 650,000 (or even the projected one million) international tourists for the whole country seem… well… like nothing.

 Then we have AA reporting that the FARC guerillas, in a brief statement, denied that Venezuela would act as guarantor in peace talks between the rebel group and the Colombia government.

 Colombia President, Gustavo Petro, had announced that Venezuela would act as guarantor in the peace process with both the ELN guerillas and the FARC dissidents. FARC didn’t deny that Venezuela could be a guarantor in negotiations but said the decision couldn’t be made unilaterally. I guess Petro didn’t ask them before his announcement.

And speaking of guarantors, Petro said Colombia is willing to act as guarantor in talks between the Venezuela government (He doesn’t call them the Maduro regime) and the opposition.

 It seems as though the two Marxist comrades in arms will solve each others problems… Terrific! I can hardly wait.

 Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 2/…

 …Finally the US had to make a choice. Continue on with the plan as is and watch as the death toll mounted and the migration crisis infected (literally) the entire region, or sanction PDVSA, the government-owned oil company, thereby impacting 96% of the government’s revenue (at least the legal revenue). The idea behind the strategy is if Maduro, who has never had an approval rating over 15% and last we heard was polling at about 5%, couldn’t afford to buy the loyalty of the military he would be forced to step down. These sanctions were not levied until 2019.

 When the 2019 sanctions were announced the Chavistas bemoaned the fact that they wouldn’t have the much-needed revenue to provide food and medicine for their people and the Chavistas were the first to use the number of 40,000 deaths caused by sanctions. Now this number is being tossed around by all the usual suspects, supporters of the Maduro regime or those wedded to socialist ideology. So, let’s recap…

 Since the first sanctions were put in place in 2015, the Maduro regime has had opportunity after opportunity to change policy and redirect funding to provide food and medical assistance (medical and healthcare items are exempt from sanctions BTW) to the Venezuelan people. They have done basically nothing while the death toll continues to mount. A couple of years ago they finally allowed one shipment from the Red Cross containing humanitarian aid to enter the country…ONE SHIPMENT!! There was food and medicine stockpiled in warehouses in countries surrounding Venezuela with billions of dollars in commitments for more and Maduro allows ONE SHIPMENT!! Other humanitarian aid shipments have been blocked or confiscated by the Maduro regime, solely for their own profit with no concern for the Venezuelan people. (Can you tell I get a little worked up about this?) There was a little aid allowed to enter from Russia and China and there has been a small amount recently allowed from other countries but it was mostly administered by the Chavistas and primarily became a corruption mechanism or extortion tool for political support.

 In 2019 there was another round of major protests and an uprising/ coup attempt/ prelude to civil war, depending on who you talked to. There were five deaths, 300 wounded, and about the same number of arrests.

 The sanctions pressure was increased in 2019 to include the mining sector, which I’ll address in subsequent writings. The rape of the environment, the slaughter of indigenous peoples, and the rampant disease caused by the government’s (Maduro’s) “Mining Arc” deserves special consideration. Suffice to say, the launch of the “Mining Arc” failed to produce any positive results for the Venezuelan people.

 More tomorrow….

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