Right Where He Wants 'Em

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…Rio Times reports that Venezuela’s opposition primaries have officially started and if this article is any indication, Nicolas Maduro has the opposition right where he wants ’em, weakened, fragmented, and disheartened.

Out of the 13 contenders for who will take on Maduro in the 2024 presidential election (still not officially scheduled BTW) only five announced plans for opening day

 Notably, Henrique Capriles, two-time presidential contender (and thought by many to have sold out) initiated the two-month countdown with a press conference in Caracas.

 Leading candidate, Maria Corina Machado’s team said she wouldn’t be holding any rallies on opening day, and VP (Voluntad Popular) candidate, Freddy Superlano, did not respond to inquiries. Hardly an auspicious beginning to the primary season, although it is understandable.

Maria Corina Machado, the leader in the polls, has been banned by the Maduro regime from holding public office for 15 years and there is a looming concern that the primaries may be cancelled due to a lawsuit filed at TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) by Luis Ratti, a former Chavista-affiliated politician, currently positioned as an independent (although nobody believes he’s not still Chavista).

 Since TSJ pretty much does whatever Maduro wants the odds of Ratti’s lawsuit being successful are pretty good (like 50,000 to almost zero rulings in favor of the Chavistas). Like we said, Nicolas Maduro has the opposition (and much of the international community) right where he wants ’em.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that Venezuela has contested an effort by Saint- Gobain to join creditors looking to get in on  the auction of Citgo shares, set to begin in October, saying the company is “rushing the court after wasting years on unnecessary litigation”…and what else would you expect them to say? Saint- Gobain is owed $42 billion by the Venezuela government.

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that Jorge Rodriguez, president of Maduro’s National Assembly, announced the appointment of five new primary members (including the head) and 10 new alternate members of Maduro’s CNE (National Electoral Council), to oversee the 2024 presidential election.

 They will replace the CNE members that resigned in March…Does anybody think the new members won’t be Maduro- friendly?

 Now, lets head Down The Rabbit Hole for the start of this week’s segment…

 Chapter 7/ The Real War…

 Almost from day one of Nicolas Maduro’s tenure as president (dictator) he has continually referred to “la guerra economica”, the “economic war” being waged against Venezuela. I would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate my bipartisanship with the Chavistas. I totally agree, there has been an economic war being waged against Venezuela. Unfortunately it’s the war Chavismo has been waging against the Venezuelan people.

 Many people like to, more or less, give Hugo Chavez a pass when it comes to the horrific situation in Venezuela. I am not one of them. Chavez planted the seeds of “21st Century Bolivarian Socialism” and was the beneficiary of historically high oil prices and unprecedented borrowing which enabled him to delay the consequences of his disastrous policies. Chew on this…

 There is no better means to control a population than food insecurity. It’s hard to focus on much of anything when you’re busy scrounging for something to eat or trying to scrape together a little money to buy some food. It’s certainly a challenge to find the energy to protest when you’re weak from missing meals so your children can eat. That is the situation in Venezuela and has been for years (about a decade).

 Pre-Chavismo Venezuela produced 70% of it’s food and imported 30%. Over the years of “The Revolution” the 70/30 split reversed course to 30/70 a while ago and today produces almost nothing. It was easy enough to see the signs of what was coming. I remember seeing a video of a rally Chavez was holding at a square in Caracas. He pointed to a building and shouted to his supporters, “Who owns that building? We’re taking it for The Revolution”!! Remember, Margaret Thatcher said that the problem with socialism is sooner or later they run out of “other people’s money”. Chavez got it cranked up early, taking from everyone to the cheers of his supporters. In the first 20 years of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism they reduced the number of private companies in Venezuela by 80%. Now, of course, all those companies were not food-related, but many of them were. And one area he went after was all food-related, agriculture. Those cheering crowds would soon disappear…along with their food.

 Venezuela has an abundance of arable land so it has always produced a sizeable quantity of fruits, vegetables, and grains as well as raising a lot of livestock. That is, until “The Revolution” came along. An easy target of him to please his cheering throngs was dormant farmland. Early on Chavez went after the farmers saying he was going to free the people from the oppression of the greedy elitists. They had so much land they couldn’t even use it all. Uhhh…Hugo…Have you ever heard of crop rotation so the soil can rejuvenate? I guess not…

 Anyway, he expropriated 3 and 1/2 million hectares (a hectare is about 2 and 1/2 acres) of farmland. He divided it into plots with some livestock for each and gave it (without title) to poor families from the barrio, mostly the slums of Caracas. Aside from the fact that my ancestral family were farmers, I think most people know farming is not an easy way to make a living. Families with generations of accumulated knowledge or corporate farms run by people with agricultural degrees have a rough go of it. What would be the chance of success if you took a family from the South Bronx and dropped them in Nebraska saying, “OK, here’s your farm… Good luck!”

 More tomorrow….

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