Bleak outlook for Venezuela

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With the supreme court compromised, the president outmaneuvering the congress, all members of the military under the watchful eye of Cuban zampolits (political officers), and the most loyal members of the military allowed to enjoy the spoils, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for either a peaceful solution or near-term end to the massive, intentionally caused humanitarian suffering in Venezuela.

Here are two short comments on the escalating violence and a long discussion of a feature article on the collapse of democracy and the economy.

6/16/17 – AFP at Yahoo News – Venezuela mobs kick, burn thieves in lynching epidemic – What happens when governments take actions that prevent the economy from working and as a result people are starving? Thieves start robbing people of food at gunpoint (money isn’t worth stealing).

What happens when robberies get out control because there is so much disruption and the government can’t do anything to maintain peace and there is widespread suffering? Mobs start lynching robbers.

There were 20 reported mob driven lynchings in 2015, 126 in 2016, and 60 in the first five months of this year.

In one attack on an armed robber, the police were able to pull the near-unconscious man into a police car as the mob cheered having beaten him. Another reporter filmed a robber being set on fire.

As another indicator of the breakdown in the social contract, Venezuela has one of the highest rates of murder in the world. That merely 6 out of 100 murders results in jail time dangerously wears away at the idea of government being able (or willing) to maintain social order. That contributes to the vigilante justice.

In addition to the massive suffering due to shortages of food, medicine, and electricity, Venezuela is slipping into a life of vigilante justice.

6/22 – Al Jazera – One killed as Venezuelan Troops fire on protesters – Another day of protests.

Another day of protesters getting shot at point-blank range.

One died, two wounded.

Number of dead in the last three months is somewhere around 80.

(Yes, Al Jazera is pointing out the collapse of Venezuela.)

6/23/17 – Wall Street Journal – ”The Last Battle for Democracy in Venezuela” – Article provides an in depth description of the economic collapse, current political direction, how the country got into this horrible disaster, and the bleak prospects for an end to the suffering.

Shrinking opposition

Opposition to the destruction of the country is coming from the Congress and Attorney General. The government is working to get rid of the Atty. Gen. and has a plan to replace the Constitution and Congress.

The government has already taken over control of the Supreme Court. The military was purged in 2002 after an attempted coup and now appears to be completely controlled by the government. The Cubans took over indoctrination and training of the military after the coup.

Path forward to end democracy in the country

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Venezuelan government supported with cash from investment bank while support from military is weakening

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A New York investment bank bought bonds from the Venezuelan central bank at a steep discount and got a lot of heat for doing so. The military is applying more violence to protesters as support from the rank and file appears to be shrinking.

5/30 – Wall Street Journal – Goldman Sachs Under Fire for Venezuela Bond Deal – Goldman bought $2.8B of bonds issued by the government-owned oil company for $865M. That is 31% of face. If, and this is a big if, the bonds were to be paid in full, on-time, at face value that would produce a 40% return.

Goldman is in a PR mess because the bonds were held by the Venezuelan central bank, meaning Goldman essentially put almost a billion dollars into the government’s hand.

Article says Goldman has been increasing their holdings of Venezuelan debt over the last few months. Their play is that if government gets its finances in order, the bonds will soar in value and Goldman will make a huge profit.

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Remembering those who sacrificed for our freedom

Ponder a moment on Memorial Day the cost of our freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the free because of the brave

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Those of us living in the United States are blessed with religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom because those who went before us fought for freedom.

Many of those fighting offered up their life for freedom and the offer was accepted.

I am humbled and grateful to God that some of my ancestors are included in the long list of those who fought. I am especially humbled that a great, great grand-uncle is in the list of those who died in the defense of freedom.

Because of their sacrifice, I get to enjoy this kind of freedom:

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Why, oh why, did production of oil and food collapse in Venezuela? What could have caused this amount of human suffering?

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Devastation in the oil industry and food supply chain in Venezuela is due to intentional government policies.

One article sees how the government caused the damage to the oil industry while another article sees the devastation in the food supply but cannot see any direct cause.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

5/7/17 – Forbes – How Venezuela Ruined Its Oil Industry – Here is a primer on how to destroy your oil industry when you have the world’s largest proven reserves of oil and are in the top 10 of world oil producers.

If you want to destroy your country, the article provides a how-to-guide, using Venezuela as the road map.

The high point of oil production in Venezuela was 3.5M bopd back in 1998, which not by coincidence was the year Hugo Chavez became president. Production then began to slip. How could that be?

After civil unrest in 2002 and 2003, Chavez fired much of the staff of the national oil company, letting go 19,000 experienced staff.

Let me translate that: 19,000 staff who knew how to produce extra-heavy oil were fired and replaced by people whose primary job skill was loyalty to the president.

Extra heavy oil takes specialized knowledge and is very expensive to produce on top of oil production already being capital-intensive.

To generate more revenue, Venezuela invited five of the oil majors to develop more oil production. The form of investment was a partnership. The five majors invested many billions of dollars in oil production.

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When do we get to call the ‘Maduro diet’ in Venezuela a crime against humanity?

Consequence of intentional government policies in Venezuela. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A one-year old child who weighs 11 pounds.

Eleven.

In what used to be the regions’s richest country, the average weight loss in the last year is 19 pounds.

That’s an average weight loss according to a survey by social scientists measuring the impact Venezuelan government policies are having on the citizens of the country.

It is called the ‘Maduro diet’ in dishonor of the president who is gladly continuing the polices that have broken the once rich nation.

It is a common site to see people picking through trash hoping to find something that is edible.

When will those of us who don’t have to decide which of our children get to eat today start calling the expected results of intentional policies a crime against humanity?

Let’s take a quick look at health care in Venezuela before returning to the starvation issue.

Collapse of the health care system

The medical crisis is so bad that even CNN has noticed. On 5/11/17 they reported Amid chaos in Venezuela, infant deaths, malaria cases skyrocket.

 

The government released statistics for 2016. They reported:

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Ongoing violence in Venezuela against those who merely want to their children to eat

In Venezuela, above activity is sufficient to draw weapon fire or armored tanks. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The violence in Venezuela directed against those people who merely wish to keep their children from starving continues.

My previous comment: 4/19/17 – Washington Free Beacon – Socialist Venezuela Leader Steps up Arming of Supporters After Outlawing, Confiscating Civilian Guns – The government has spent the last five years confiscating guns from private citizens. That’s what authoritarian, totalitarians, and other bad governments do.

Why? So they can’t defend themselves.

From what might individuals need to defend themselves from?

How about 400,000 loyalists who are going to be armed by the government. (more…)

Freedom continues to evaporate in Venezuela as misery continues to increase. Hmm. Why do those two trends typically seem to accompany each other?

What economic system produces this result? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Ponder what economic system produced this suffering, misery, and loss of freedom. (cross-post from Outrun Change.)

4/19/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Antigovernment Protests Turn Deadly – Teargas and gunfire broke up widespread protests on Wednesday.

The death toll rises. Two dead on Wednesday with many more surviving gunshots they received. Seven dead in the last month. Forty-two dead in 2014.

Shooting protesters after stealing all their guns is just how authoritarians and totalitarians tend to roll:

4/19/17 – Washington Free Beacon – Socialist Venezuela Leader Steps up Arming of Supporters After Outlawing, Confiscating Civilian Guns – The government has spent the last five years confiscating guns from private citizens. That’s what authoritarian, totalitarians, and other bad governments do.

Why?

So they can’t defend themselves.

From what might individuals need to defend themselves from?

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Venezuelan Supreme Court usurps all power of the nation’s legislature

Where the Venezuelan Supreme Court filed that part of their constitution defining the legislative branch. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled that it will take over all of the powers of the Congress. That essentially suspends the Congress and removes the remaining power center in the country that is not under the complete control of the president.

Since the president controls the supreme court and obviously now controls the legislature, there is no organized structure that can oppose him.

That’s a major step.

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

For more info, check out any of the following articles.

For entertainment, consider the spin some headline writers put into their work:

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Updates on continuing suffering in Venezuela – #20

Venezuela doesn't have enough money to get tankers out to international waters. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Venezuela doesn’t have enough money to scrub down hulls of tankers so they can enter international waters. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The suffering continues without a break. One of the more ominous articles describes that Venezuela is so short of currency that the national oil company cannot afford to scrub down the hull of oil tankers, which is required before they enter international waters – the country cannot even get the oil in those loaded tankers to market.

1/6 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Tees Up Its Next Dictator – The Venezuelan president faces a recall election this year. It looks like in anticipation of losing the election, a new vice president has been appointed. Under the country’s rules, if the president lost a recall before the end of 2016, there would have been a new election. If he is voted out after the first of 2017, the VP will take over.

The editorial points out the new VP will likely continue the present policies. He was previously a follower of the previous president. WSJ reporting indicates while the new VP was governor of a state, there were two Iranian companies (owned by the Iranian military) who had joint ventures with military in that state. More info in the editorial pointing to the new guy won’t be a change in direction.

Thus the opposition needs to decide which dictator they wish to rule them.

1/9 – International Business Times – Nicolas Maduro raises minimum wage in Venezuela by 50%(more…)

How a real hero responds when his Medal of Honor is mentioned: “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.”

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Why have I cross-posted this article from my other blog, Outrun Change?

Because freedom is expensive. It costs the bravery of so many heroes. Some we know, many we won’t ever hear about.

The quote in the title is from Bill Crawford, then a janitor at the US Air Force Academy, when asked by cadets if he was the person described in a history of WWII as having been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery under fire.

Before one of the cadets noted the similarity of names between this WWII hero on the page of the book and the janitor who kept the cadet squadron dormitory clean, Mr. Crawford was unobtrusive, doing his job diligently without any fuss.

The response of a real hero is someone who says some variation of he was just doing his job.

What was ‘his job’?

Well, here are a few articles to check out. I’ll then give some highlights. (more…)

Higher denomination bills still not available in Venezuela. Oh, by the way, socialism kills.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Well, never mind about turning in those worthless bills.

12/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Extends Use of 100-Bolivar Note to Jan. 2 – Since the large denomination replacement bills are not ready, the government graciously and on spur-of-the-moment decided to let people have until January 2 to turn in all their 100 Bolivar notes, each of which is worth about three US cents. By government dictat, the 100 bills will be valid until 1/2/17.

12/19 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Deploys Troops After Weekend Riots – Looting is spreading. Government sent 3,000 soldiers to the state of Bolivar after looting there.

12/30 – Associated Press at Wall Street Journal Venezuela’s President Once Again Extends 100-Bolivar Note’s Deadline – Deadline to turn in all 100 Bolivar bills before they become null and void has been extended a second time. Venezuelan citizens have until January 20 to turn in all the old bills.

The problem? The higher denomination bills are still not ready for distribution.

12/25 – New York Times – No Food, No Medicine, No Respite: A Starving Boy’s Death in Venezuela Focus of the article is not on surgeons who operate on bloodied tables because there is not enough water to wash it off, let alone enough sterilizing solution to make it clean. Neither is the focus on psychiatric hospitals where the lack of medicine’s forces the staff to tie psychiatric patients to their chairs.

That’s the state of medicine in Venezuela, but instead the article focuses on the death of one 16-year-old young man.

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Continuing devastation in Venezuela – #16

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

You know things are horribly bad when the New York Times and Washington Post are frequently reporting on the economic devastation in the socialist paradise of Venezuela.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

11/25 – New York Times – Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse – Mass numbers of people are fleeing Venezuela by foot, air, and now on rickety boats. The lack of food, water, electricity, and medical care is driving  people away, reminiscent of the flood of people paddling away from Cuba on tied-together inner tubes.

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Increasing political danger in Venezuela – #15

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The sinking feeling in my stomach tells me things are going to get far worse in Venezuela in the near future.

10/27 – Reuters at Yahoo news – Venezuela crisis enters dangerous phase as Maduro foes go militant – Article gives a depressing summary of the last few days.

On the same day, four different courts around the country released identical rulings saying the signatures gathered for the recall were invalid. Four courts. Same day. Identical rulings.

The election board said the referendum was off because the signatures were invalid.

Many of the opposition concluded that means they are living in a complete dictatorship.

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Venezuela slides further into the abyss – #14

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

More on the ongoing human tragedy that is the result of intentional government policies in Venezuela:

  • Infant mortality is soaring
  • Government starts to let go a bit on the widespread  price controls. Unexpectedly, food reappears on the shelves when priced at realistic prices
  • State owned oil company is losing ability to pump oil
  • Government suspends the recall effort, which leads to…
  • Lawmakers start impeachment effort

This is going to get far worse before the massive suffering ends.

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on October 28.)

10/17 – Wall Street Journal – Infant Mortality Soars in Venezuela – The infant mortality rate is soaring so far and so fast that doctors and hospitals are under pressure not to release any data because it reveals the depths of the human suffering in play.

Infant mortality is defined as the number of babies that die before their first birthday. Here is the infant morality rate, expressed in infant deaths per 1,000 live births:

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