More Wishful Thinking

 We’ll get started with this week’s segment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole in just a bit but first… reports that at the recent summit between the EU (European Union) and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) there was a much under-reported development in the  form of the CRESCll proposal, which would enable Caribbean nations to become co-owners of Venezuela’s proven and drilled petroleum and gas fields.

 Many of these oil and gas fields currently lie idle due to insufficient investment and maintenance. By investing in ear-marked oil and gas fields on preferential terms, Caribbean nations would assume a stake in the “barrels under the ground”, unlocking vast potential for the region’s energy security, while also supporting the rehabilitation and development of Venezuela’s oil and gas industry.

 Once a consortium of participating Caribbean countries has been established, it would enter into negotiations with Venezuela over the specific fields to be made available, and both the size and terms of the investment required.

 Depending on the participating fields, technical assessments, and the speed of investment, it should be possible for production to begin within 18 months (Never gonna’ happen).

 The article went into detail regarding expectations, assumptions, possibilities, and items anticipated as well as the issue of sanctions-easing needed for things to progress. We’ll save you some time with a dose of reality.

 Remember all the talk in recent months about the Maduro regime reviving PetroCaribe, the mothballed Chavista program that supplied Caribbean nations with heavily discounted oil at preferential terms?

 We’ve said all along it wouldn’t happen since the Maduro regime has no money and no spare production capacity and this proposal reinforces that.

 Nobody would be talking about this proposal were it possible for PetroCaribe to be revived and this proposal is just more of the same.

 We should also bear in mind that we haven’t heard anything about the Iranian repair/renovation project of Venezuela’s refineries that was supposed to be completed a couple of months ago.

 Again, as we told you, the thought that a hundred million dollars of repairs, when $10 billion a year is needed for 10 years, would accomplish anything was just wishful thinking. To think this new proposal has any chance of success is…well… can I say it again? More wishful thinking.

 Now, let’s go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 10/ The Card

 “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one”- Benjamin Franklin

 and a reprise…

 “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”- Ronald Regan

 Extort – To exact or wrest from, to get by threat, violence

The “Carnet de la Patria” (the homeland or fatherland card) was launched as a mechanism to streamline receipt of government payments and/or benefits. Sounds quite benevolent, huh? Well, only if the issuer has your best interest at heart and not their own. Perhaps a closer look is warranted.

 Although the “Carnet” was launched by Maduro in 2016, the foundation was laid by Hugo Chavez. In April,2008 Chavez sent a delegation to Shenzen,China, the technology hub and home to Chinese tech giant ZTE. China was already at the forefront in utilizing technology to further it’s “Big Brother” pursuits. Chavez billed the visit as an effort to help undocumented Venezuelans who might have difficulty opening bank accounts, voting, etc. Sounds well intended enough. (What was it Grandma used to say…”The road to hell is paved with good intentions”)

 One member of this group was Anthony Daquin, technical advisor and delegation member. He was amazed by the Chinese “smart card” system and it’s vast database. Through the card they could monitor every aspect of a person’s life, social, political, and economic behavior. Although still in the early stages of development it was easy enough for Daquin to see the tremendous possibilities as technology advanced. The Chinese were already accumulating data and rating/scoring their citizens. Uhh…OK…but do you get the same credit for being a dependable, hard worker as you get for being a loyal party member? Can you say “Cultural Revolution”? For those who don’t know, the “Cultural Revolution” in China under Chinese Communist Party leader, Chairman Mao, had similar ideals and was ultimately responsible for killing millions.

 Such was the quandary for Daquin. Right behind his amazement and the potential for doing a lot of good was his fear and the potential for doing a lot of harm, evil if you will. He approached government officials with his concerns about the possible abuse of such a system. Their response was quintessential Chavismo. He was detained, beaten, threatened, and eventually fled the country.

 Just because there wasn’t much news about this initiative doesn’t mean nothing was happening. The Venezuelans tried advancing the project on their own…and failed. They got the Cubans to help…and that failed. Finally they went back to the source, China and ZTE. With the advances in technology the Chinese had them set up in short order with biometric smart cards capable of using digital wallets to process payments and, more importantly, upgrading the database. If you have the “Carnet de la Patria” any government bureaucrat can access the following simply by entering your name :

 Family information

 Employment and income

 Property owned

 Medical history

 State benefits received

 Presence on social media

 Membership of a political party

 Participation in Socialist Party events

 Whether you have voted.

 More tomorrow….

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