Falling On Deaf Ears

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…Courthouse News reports that a bipartisan coalition of US Senators urged the State Department to pay close attention to the Venezuela opposition’s primary elections pointing to the efforts by Venezuela President (dictator), Nicolas Maduro, to stifle opposition to his reelection.

 In their letter to Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, they said “The Venezuelan people cannot afford to see another fraudulent election…Unfortunately, with a presidential election scheduled for 2024 (not yet officially scheduled), the Maduro regime is already doing everything possible to undermine prospects for a credible vote.”

 They went on to mention various illegitimate actions by the Maduro regime that we’ve covered here recently including barring Maria Corina Machado, (the leading opposition candidate) from holding public office, the dismantling of the CNE (electoral council), which was restaffed through an arbitrary process led by First Lady (First Co-conspirator? … First Criminal?…First Human Rights Violator?), Cilia Flores, among other infractions. They also referenced the announcement by the Maduro regime that independent international observers would not be allowed to monitor the 2024 elections.

 I applaud the effort by the Senators but I’m afraid it’s going to fall on deaf ears. The Biden administration has shown it is willing to overlook the Maduro regime’s Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity in pursuit of it’s misguided climate change agenda (that means supporting the export of Venezuela heavy crude, the dirtiest oil in the world, to the US and EU, instead of supporting US oil production, the cleanest-produced oil in the world).

 In a sanctions-easing move about 8 months ago they issued Chevron a 6 month license to import oil into the US with a renewal contingent on the Maduro regime taking “concrete steps” toward free and fair elections and the restoration of democracy and if such steps were not taken the sanctions would “snap back”.

 The Maduro regime has not only failed to comply but has increased it’s repressive behavior and yet here we are, two months past the renewal date, and the Biden administration has failed to act and is even considering further sanctions-easing.

 It would seem that playing to it’s political base is more important to the Biden administration than keeping it’s commitment to freedom, democracy, and the Venezuelan people.

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that the Venezuela government’s Repatriation Program has helped 340,000 Venezuelans abroad return home to Venezuela, according to Deputy Foreign Minister, Rander Pena, over it’s five year existence.

 While the numbers may be questionable (the Maduro regime habitually overstates numbers that reflect positively on the government), this should be viewed as a positive thing, although it should be noted that 7.3 million (and counting) Venezuelans have fled the Maduro regime and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 Now, lets head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 8/ Free Gas…

 As an investor I have always thought it was important to own some stock in a major integrated oil company. I call it my oil insurance (a term I stole from Dan Ferris). Sometimes it’s a better investment than others but it’s kind of like owning gold. I sleep better knowing I have it. Since a large percentage of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which is controlled by those lunatic Iranians (a Maduro ally, BTW), they can cause the strait to be closed and the price of oil would skyrocket overnight. As such, I’ve followed the oil market for years. I thought I knew a little bit about it until I moved to Venezuela.

 We already dealt with the macro situation ie; PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company). This is about the micro, the lunacy of free gasoline, and why it stayed free in Venezuela, and yes, I said free, not cheap gas, free. When I would be in the US and tell people I was from Venezuela they would always mention two things, beauty queens and cheap gas. When I would tell them that Venezuela probably had more beautiful women per capita than anywhere else in the world they were never surprised. When I would tell them that gasoline wasn’t cheap, it was free, their response was always the same, “Come on…it can’t be free… can it?” Well, I don’t know about you but I consider one ten thousandth of a cent per liter free gas.

 Gasoline hasn’t always been free in Venezuela but it has always been exceptionally cheap.Politically it always made sense to mollify the population with cheap gas. Cars might be expensive but if you could afford to buy one you didn’t have to concern yourself with paying for gasoline. The only price increase for years came in 2016. Maduro was already a de facto dictator so he didn’t care about the political consequences of a gasoline price hike. In one shot he bumped up the price of 91 octane by 3,000% and 95 octane (we don’t even have 95 octane in the US) by 6,000%.

 Sounds like a big deal until you do the math. Lets use 95 octane for example. Remember, in 2016 we were using bsf – bolivares fuertes, not the bsS – bolivares soberanos, nor the new bolivar, not to mention the plain old bolivar – pre- Chavez. Anyway… here’s how it breaks down:

 one liter of 95 octane – 6 bsf

 approximately 55 liters for a tankful in the trusty old Toyota

 exchange rate at the time was about 1,200 bsf/ dollar

 More tomorrow….

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