When The Music Stops

  We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole shortly but first…Law 360 reports that Spanish affiliates of Gruma SAB de CV, a Mexican tortilla manufacturer, asked the DC Circuit Court to enforce a $618 million arbitration award they won against Venezuela calling the country’s argument that it was denied due process “far fetched and wrong”.

 It looks like we have another company anxious to join the conga line to the upcoming auction of Citgo shares, owned by PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company).

 Remember, it’s kind of a “first come, first served” deal so it’s important to secure your place in line. With more than $20 billion in claims and Citgo’s NAV (Net Asset Value) estimated at approximately $10 billion, when the music stops there’s going to be a lot of people scrambling for chairs.

 Then we have Climate Home News telling us that at the recent Climate Summit two of the eight countries refused to commit to end deforestation of the Amazon by 2030, Bolivia and Venezuela. They were also the only two Amazon nations that wouldn’t sign the pledge to protect forests at the Cap 26 Summit in Glasgow in 2021.

 This news follows Maduro’s bluster last week calling on the military to confront the problem of “Colombian mafias” operating illegal mines in the Amazon region. The reality is the Venezuelan military is complicit in the illegal mining atrocities in Maduro’s “Mining Arc” and only performs occasional “cosmetic” raids and seizures for PR purposes.

 Then we have Insight Crime telling us that Venezuela military officials claim to have “voluntarily evacuated” thousands of miners from Amazonas state, Yapacana National Park from July 1 – August 13, as part of Operation Bolivarian Shield. Sounds impressive huh?

 When you look under the surface the picture is a little different. A local investigator and indigenous lawyer told Insight Crime that the rebel groups, like ELN, who has a mutually beneficial arrangement with the Maduro regime and operates mines in the area, leave when the soldiers deploy, suggesting possible collusion.

 SOS Orinoco, a local non-profit, calls the operation a “media show” and reports that many miners who are “evacuated” return shortly after the big splash is over.

 Now, lets head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 7/ continued…

 …And, the Hugo Chavez Plant, which hasn’t produced a single grain of local rice, is just the tip of the iceberg. CAMC was paid over $3 billion for at least 5 projects that were never completed. As with all other Chavismo- related frauds this is one piece of a complex puzzle. PDVSA Agricola, a new unit developed by Chavez to boost agricultural production, handled the contracts. The money went from China’s Development Bank to Venezuela’s Development Bank and was doled out from there. Remember, 60% of Venezuela government spending goes through FONDEN, which isn’t subject to government oversight, so the forensic accountants have their work cut out for them. As of 2019, $32 billion was tracked plus another $6 billion from an infrastructure fund created by Chavez. The ongoing investigation has already revealed dozens of people with millions of dollars going to each of them. In one of the interviews it was said “These guys were carrying around briefcases full of contracts”. It’s worth noting that Venezuela state-run media never reported any of this.

 In another example of the complete disdain “The Revolution” actually has for the people, as of the date of this writing we are currently in the second week of a hunger strike by former PDVSA workers protesting the government’s lack of response to their requests for money they were promised by Hugo Chavez so this goes back a ways (Maduro took power in 2013). Funny thing is, the money he promised was put in an account that was supposed to pay them in dollars. The government has been using outdated exchange rates from the time of the agreement and has been doling out a meager amount to them in bolivares, so it’s a win-win for Maduro. He’s fulfilling the promise of Chavez (technically) and with the favorable rates he’s using he’s paying out almost nothing. It’s somewhat of a double whammy for the workers. They’re on a hunger strike while their families and those around them are starving.

 Surely with a situation as serious as a starving population the government must be doing something to address hunger. Well, yeas and no. Here are a couple of recommendations from the government…One is their “Urban Farming” initiative. Residents in cities like Caracas should grow their own vegetables in roof-top gardens and on balconies. I’m sure that will more than make up for 3 and 1/2 million hectares of expropriated farmland. Another proposed solution regards the protein shortage in the average Venezuela’s diet as beef, chicken,etc. are beyond the means of all but the wealthy. It’s rabbits! They are a popular pet in Venezuela so the government says “You shouldn’t view them as cute little bunnies but as two kilos of meat”!

 The next idea had the potential to be a good thing but, as with all things Chavismo- related, they corrupted it. As the food crisis shifted from a simple lack of availability to a combination of limited availability and total lack of affordability the government came up with a plan to deliver food boxes to those that needed them every two weeks, enough to feed a family of five. OK, so we knew from the start that feeding a family of five was overly ambitious but it’s still a good idea…uhh…kinda’.

 More tomorrow….

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