No Europeans Allowed

 We’ll get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment in just a bit but first…BNN Bloomberg reports that the head of Venezuela’s (Maduro’s) National Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, said he would not invite EU (European Union) electoral observers for next year’s presidential elections after the European Council extended sanctions against Venezuela (and 50 officials).

 Rodriguez said extending the sanctions violated the Barbados agreement in which the Venezuelan government agreed to invite five organizations, including the EU, to observe the elections, stating the observers couldn’t be impartial until the sanctions were lifted.

 Now we’ll see what happens with the Carter Center observers (from the US). An advance team is already in Caracas.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that six major creditors of Venezuela are urging the US Supreme Court to leave in place a 3rd Circuit Court ruling that affirmed PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) is liable for the country’s massive debt.

 This is rebutting an argument  by the Venezuela government (the Chavistas) that the appeals court “broke new ground” in it’s sovereign immunity analysis.

 It looks like the Chavista’s standard practice of dragging out court cases that they’re clearly going to lose to the bitter end is about to reach it’s conclusion.

 The Supreme Court is unlikely to overturn the ruling by the 3rd Circuit Court (I mean come on… everyone already knows that PDVSA and the Venezuela government are one and the same) so let’s just end this farce…finally!

 Then we have Reuters reporting that the US Treasury Department extended through May 16 a license allowing four oilfield service firms to maintain their current assets in Venezuela.

 Haliburton, SLB, Baker Hughes, and Weatherford International can maintain “essential operations” in Venezuela but remain prohibited from drilling, processing, lifting, purchasing, or shipping any Venezuela-origin oil.

 SLB’s CEO has already said he’s looking at expanding Venezuela operations but will proceed cautiously….Wise move!

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 2/ Setting The Record Straight…

 There is a lot of talk these days about sanctions. North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba… Before addressing the Venezuela sanctions I want to issue my disclaimer, the same one I always remind my family of…For the most part, I’m not a fan of most politicians, hence, I’m not a Biden guy, nor a Trump guy, nor Obama and so on. As a lifetime fan of history, it seems most of “my guys” are dead. History is best served when you take time to read what really happened, in as much as it’s possible, and do your best to understand it…whether you like it or not…agree with it or not.

 That said, there has been a lot of talk about the negative effect of sanctions on the population of Venezuela being parroted by members of congress and at least one prominent economist. The claim is that US sanctions are responsible for the deaths of 40,000 Venezuelans.

 The first thing that strikes me about that statement is the number, 40,000. If we’re talking about the number of Venezuelans that have died from malnutrition/starvation, lack of medicine/healthcare, suicide (yes, suicide), and other elated issues in recent years, I would have to say that number is extremely low. From my research I would have to say the number is more like 300,000 and that’s not counting the approximately 28,000 murders per year in Venezuela (not to mention the 1,400 extrajudicial killings per year by Maduro’s security forces).

 The next thing about that statement is it’s simplicity. All sanctions are not created equal and in order to understand the impact of sanctions you have to know what they are and how long they have been in effect… right?

 The sanctions against Venezuela were initiated by Barack Obama in 2015. I guess most of the progressive crowd either don’t know this or have chosen to overlook this fact. At that time the Venezuelan people were already dying from shortages of food and medicine. Food shortages were the most prevalent at the time and caused massive demonstrations in 2014 in which 40 demonstrators were killed, hundreds wounded, and thousands more imprisoned as the government repressed dissent.

 The “Guarimba”, as it was called, was exemplified by protestors carrying signs “Maduro, We’re Hungry” or some as simple as “Starvation”. It was typically barricaded streets and burning tires, the common manifestation in Venezuela. The repression was brutal.

 Unfortunately for the Venezuelans, the situation received very little coverage by the international media. At the same time Russia annexed the Crimea so the focus of the world was thousands of miles away.

 Over the next year or so stories surfaced about the lack or food and medicine as well as the Human Rights violations so then president Obama initiated the first sanctions. They targeted individuals and were meant to get Nicolas Maduro to address the situation. Maduro denied the humanitarian crisis, blamed the dead and wounded during the demonstrations on right-wing conspiracy and US imperialism and did nothing for the Venezuelan people.

 When Donald Trump became president he continued the sanctions and added more and more individuals over a tw0-year period in an attempt to get Maduro to change course and care for his people. The result was the same…more bluster and denial by Maduro and Venezuelans continued to die.

 More tomorrow….

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