How did Venezuela end up this way?

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sun May 13, 2018 7:40 am

Many Venezuelan Workers Are Leaving The Job, And The Country
May 12, 20188:07 AM ET By John Otis

Caracas resident Barbara Rojas used to have a coveted position at Venezuela's state-run oil company, the kind of job that not so long ago people would hang on to until retirement due to the generous pay and benefits.

But in February, Rojas quit her job as an office administrator. She was disgusted that hyperinflation and the collapse of Venezuela's currency had rendered her wages nearly worthless. Rojas points out that nearly half of the 149 people in her office have walked off the job.

"I could no longer support myself," said Rojas, 22, who plans to join a mass migration of Venezuelans by moving to Chile. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to other South American countries and beyond in recent years.

Amid Venezuela's worst economic crisis in modern history, worker absenteeism is soaring. Although there are no official statistics, Carlos González of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the country's main business association, estimates up to 40 percent of employees have either quit their jobs or regularly skip work. Many now get by partly doing odd jobs or selling food on the black market, and partly on money sent by relatives overseas. Those vital cash transfers from abroad, called remittances, totaled an estimated $279 million in 2016, according to Pew Research Center.

Besides quitting over low wages, González says people must often skip work to scrounge for groceries because of widespread food shortages. Commuting to work has also become a nightmare. A lack of tires and spare parts has cut the fleet of functioning buses and subway cars, while fares for public transportation have skyrocketed. Some employees spend a quarter of their day's wages just to get to work — and decide it's not worth it.

That was the conclusion of Yajira Delgado, who used to work as a seamstress at a textile plant that produces baseball and soccer jerseys. She quit in December to spend more time with her two kids. "I didn't earn enough to cover bus fare and food," Delgado explains.

During a recent visit to the plant, located in a Caracas slum, rows of sewing machines sat idle. Of the 20 people once employed here, six remain. Plant owner Enzo Pascarela says he's not surprised.

"Venezuelans are not lazy," he says. "But salaries are absurdly low. You would be stupid to go to work."

Worker absenteeism is one of several factors dragging down the Venezuelan economy, which shrank by 13 percent last year, according to Congress. Production of everything from milk to aluminum to oil is plummeting. González, the business chamber official, who runs a construction company in the western city of Valencia, says it often takes his crews several extra days or weeks to finish projects due to a lack of workers.

To placate job holders and secure more votes, President Nicolás Maduro, who hopes to win another six-year term in Venezuela's May 20 election, announced this month a 95 percent increase of the minimum wage. But the new base salary of 2.5 million bolivars per month amounts to about $3 on the black market.

What's more, analysts say the increase is unlikely to have much effect given that this is the third wage hike this year and prices are rising even faster. The Central Bank of Venezuela has stopped releasing inflation figures. But congress, the only branch of government controlled by the opposition, said this week that the annual inflation rate is running at more than 13,000 percent.

Hyperinflation and the dearth of public transportation is deeply demoralizing to those who still have jobs, like Yorman Jiménez and his wife, Maribel Barrera.

They live in a mountainside slum and travel every morning to government jobs in downtown Caracas. The journey begins before down as they climb an outdoor staircase that leads up the mountain to the bus stop. Buses are hard to find and many people climb aboard dump trucks and pickups that offer rides. Bus fares have doubled in the past month. That means Jiménez and Barrera will shell out a quarter of their day's wages just to get to their job sites.

The bus drops them off at the subway station. To offset rising bus fares, the government has waived metro fees. But that's led to overloaded trains. Even with packed cars, scores of people try to push their way on board. The metro is slow, the AC doesn't work, and it stops for unexplained reasons in the dark tunnel.

After nearly two hours of travel, Barrera exits the subway for her job at the attorney general's office.

Jiménez heads to the Transportation Ministry where he earns about $4 per month as a truck driver. He arrives 45 minutes late but has still beaten most of his colleagues to work. Others have stopped coming — an option that Jiménez contemplates.

"I've thought about quitting my job," he says. "I've also thought about leaving Venezuela for good."

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sun May 13, 2018 1:07 pm

From Bloomberg:
Politics - Venezuelan Soldiers Desert in Droves With Presidential Election Ahead
By Fabiola Zerpa and Noris Soto - May 7, 2018, 4:42 PM CDT

Shorthanded army is charged with overseeing May 20 election - Retirees have been recalled as officers flee the country

Military officers are joining the exodus of Venezuelans to Colombia and Brazil, fleeing barracks and forcing President Nicolas Maduro’s government to call upon retirees and militia to fill the void.

High desertion rates at bases in Caracas and the countryside are complicating security plans for the presidential election in 13 days, which by law require military custody of electoral materials and machinery at voting centers.

“The number is unknown because it used to be published in the Official Gazette. Now, it is not,” said Rocio San Miguel, director of Control Ciudadano, a military watchdog group in Caracas. She said soldiers are fleeing for the same reason citizens are: “Wages are low, the quality of food and clothing isn’t good.”

Last week, officers who rank as high as general were called in and quartered for several days at their units. Retired officials and militia members were also contacted by their superiors, according to one retired officer who asked not to be named for fear of angering the regime. Government officials are training these fill-in personnel for the election, said a second retired officer.

The shortage of troops comes as hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flee a societal collapse, crowding cities and makeshift camps throughout the region in the largest mass emigration in modern Latin American history. Hyperinflation has made the currency virtually worthless, and malnutrition is endemic. Almost 2 million Venezuelans are living outside the country.

Amassing Power
As the once-prosperous nation fell apart, Maduro consolidated power by creating an all-powerful assembly to bypass the national legislature. The regime jailed and banned opponents and launched a wave of arrests before the May 20 vote. The U.S. and regional organizations have refused to recognize the balloting as legitimate, and the main opposition coalition has promised a boycott in the face of what it says will be a rigged contest.

Venezuelan elections are overseen by its military, the strongest force in the country and one increasingly intertwined with Maduro’s regime. The rush to fill out units is required by the so-called Plan Republica, the security deployment of the Defense Ministry that begins on the eve of election day and lasts until the day after. By law, the armed forces are guarantors of peace and security, guarding ballots and voting machines at all 14,000-odd voting sites. They transport these materials and machinery to each voting center, often a school, and guard it.

Silent Treatment
But the level of desertion from the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana has grown exponentially in the last year, especially among troops at lower ranks. At least 10,000 soldiers have asked to retire, Control Ciudadano’s San Miguel said in March.

“Since 2015 there has been an increase in military detainees accused of treason, desertion and other crimes,” she said. “Our estimate is that there are 300 people who are imprisoned, mostly troops. A few are senior officers, others are civilians linked to the military.”

A spokesman for the armed forces didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on the desertions.

High-ranking members of the military are barred from much contact with the lower ranks . Lines of young military men asking for retirement are long, said the first retired officer. The officer tried to chat with one, but officers running the barracks forbade them from talking to each other. The retiree said top officers fear too much conversation will permit officers and enlisted solders to form alliances for a coup.

“Those who ask to retire are put into arrest for a week at the military counterintelligence headquarters,” said Gonzalo Himiob, director of Foro Penal, a human-rights group. “That’s how worried the government is.”

He said most leave the country after they are released. Himiob said that so many have tried to resign in recent days that the regime has no room to jail them, and many are allowed to quit.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Thu May 17, 2018 11:07 pm

Meet The Popular Venezuelan Candidate With The Best Chance Of Taking On Maduro
May 17, 201812:03 PM ET By John Otis

Rather than a sunny, uplifting campaign message, Henri Falcón, the main opposition candidate in Venezuela's May 20 presidential election, has settled on the more blunt "¡Se va!"

That's Spanish for: "He's leaving!"

The phrase refers to Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's increasingly authoritarian president, who is seeking another six-year term despite leading Venezuela into its worst economic crisis in modern times. Amid hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages, and the mass emigration of Venezuelans, Falcón claims the only path to progress is for voters to give the boot to Maduro.

"People work for a month but don't earn enough to buy a carton of eggs," Falcón tells supporters during a campaign trip to Valencia, an industrial city west of the capital. "That means hunger and misery. But we are going to get rid of this inept government."

The polls show a topsy-turvy race. A poll in early April had Falcón up by 7 points, but other surveys in May gave Maduro more than a 12-point lead.

Rather than regime change, the vote could wind up helping Maduro consolidate power. That's because of unfair conditions that analysts say will guarantee his victory — and have prompted an election boycott by parts of the opposition.

The opposition's most popular leaders — among them Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles — are in jail, in exile, or have been banned by the government from running for president.

Critics say the government is using food handouts and the threat of mass firings of state workers to pressure people into voting for Maduro. Venezuela's electoral board tasked with overseeing the vote is stacked with Maduro loyalists. What's more, the government controls most TV and radio stations and is transmitting a constant stream of of pro-Maduro propaganda — while his rivals get scant airtime.

"How do you defeat a candidate like Maduro who has the entire government apparatus working in his favor?" said Luis Butto, a political science professor at Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, who predicts the president will be easily re-elected.

Analysts and opposition leaders say that similar advantages as well as dirty tricks — such as moving polling places in opposition strongholds on election day — helped the ruling Socialist Party sweep gubernatorial elections in October and mayoral elections in December.

Meanwhile, the opposition coalition of more than 20 parties from across the political spectrum is split over Falcón's candidacy.

He is considered suspect by many right-wing leaders within the opposition coalition because Falcón, a former state governor, once embraced the socialist revolution ushered in by the late Hugo Chávez 19 years ago.

Falcón points out he broke with Chávez a decade ago and has been a staunch critic of the late leader's loyal successor Maduro. What's more, he has pledged to repair relations with Washington, which has increased pressure and sanctions on the government and its associates. He even wants to replace Venezuela's badly devalued currency with the U.S. dollar — a hated symbol of "yanqui imperialism" for die-hard Chavistas, as government loyalists are known.

Meanwhile, the largest opposition parties have refused to field candidates and are calling for an election boycott. The United States and several Latin American countries say they will not recognize the results, while the European Union has called on Venezuela to suspend the voting and to organize free and fair elections.

Falcón belongs to a small left-wing party called Avanzada Progresista, meaning "progressive advance." He has been expelled from the opposition coalition for defying its boycott. Opposition lawmaker Negal Morales tells NPR that by taking part, Falcón is helping to legitimize an electoral farce.

But unfair voting conditions don't always mean victory for autocrats. In 1988, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet lost a plebiscite that paved the way for Chile's return to democracy. Two years later, Nicaraguans defied the odds by voting out the Marxist Sandinista government. Falcón is counting on a similar surprise.

Speaking with NPR on his campaign bus, Falcón says it's not the time for politicians to go into hiding. He adds: "What sense does it make to tell people not to vote and then provide them with no alternatives?"

Francisco Rodríguez, Falcón's chief policy adviser, insists that it's the boycotters who have been duped.

"Maduro wants people to abstain. He wants nobody to come out to vote," Rodríguez says. "Because that's the only election he can win. And the opposition fell into that trap."

Rodríguez claims that electoral boycotts rarely prove to be an effective means of protest and have often backfired. In Venezuela, for example, the opposition sat out the 2005 legislative elections that effectively turned Congress into a rubber stamp for Chávez and helped him consolidate his grip on power.

Taking part in an election under unfair rules "does not mean legitimizing those rules," Rodríguez says. "It means that you are willing to fight for you rights. What we are not willing to do is to let Maduro get away with six more years in power without a fight."

For his part, Maduro predicts the elections will be clean — and that he'll win by a landslide.

"We have the support of the people," Maduro told a recent news conference. "You can't call that an unfair electoral advantage."

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Fri May 18, 2018 9:56 am

State Dept. Has 'Serious Concerns' For Safety Of Utah Man Imprisoned In Venezuela
May 18, 20185:23 AM ET By Scott Neuman

The U.S. State Department has expressed concern over the welfare of a Utah man jailed in Venezuela, a day after he managed to upload a video to Facebook saying inmates at his prison had seized the complex and were trying to kill him.

As we have reported previously, 26-year-old Joshua Holt traveled to Venezuela in 2016 to marry Thamara Caleno Candelo, whom he met online. Police later raided the couple's Caracas apartment, where they claimed to find an AK-47 rifle and a grenade, hauling them both off to jail.

In two 20-second videos shot on a cellphone and posted on his Facebook page from Venezuela's notorious El Helicoide prison, Holt said earlier this week that he had "been begging my government for two years. They say they're doing things but I'm still here."

He also said that the prison had "fallen" during a riot by inmates and people were "trying to break into my room and kill me."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that the U.S. has "serious concerns about the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens who are being held" in Venezuela.

"The Venezuelan government is responsible for the safety of all detainees in its prison system, including U.S. citizens in detention," she said.

Nauert the State Department had been in contact with a top Venezuelan diplomat seeking Holt's release on humanitarian grounds.

In February, a top-ranking Republican aide, Caleb McCarry, met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela to discuss Holt's possible release. In the same month, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch sent a letter to Holt in prison saying that he and others officials were working "tirelessly for your freedom."

Hatch said he was "confident" that Holt's "dark chapter will close and you will soon be reunited with your family."

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sat May 19, 2018 3:34 pm

Your guide to the election in troubled Venezuela

Click the link for pics & more related articles.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by LowKey » Sun May 20, 2018 12:23 am

DoctorCandelario wrote:
Halfapint wrote:
DoctorCandelario wrote:Following President MAduro calls on a constitutional assembly (they want to create a new, comunal constitution (so called "the people's and the working class constitution")) opposition called for protests today

They wanted for people to protests for a couple of hours, but people carried on. Clashes ensued. Government paramilitary thugs go out to have some fun while terrorizing protestors.

This two videos are from the Sucre municipality in Caracas, around El LLanito.

Words speak by itself. No fatalities were reported today, but at least 6 wounded by gunfire, including military personel.

https://twitter.com/RCamachoVzla/status ... 4515665920

https://twitter.com/juanjoserivasr/stat ... 8358316032
I saw some live streams going from a couple websites. Looked like the government was blocking protesters from marching into the mayday parade. Not sure if that's where the big violence happened but it looked like some pretty heavily armed troops.
Those two videos are from today.

But indeed, in the Mayday parade there were a lot of deployed troops and police. No fatal casualties that day, but a lot of wounded.
This, I believe, was the last contact we had from DoctorCandelario.
If anyone else has had contact from him, please let the rest of us know he's still surviving.

As I'm currently between contracts, I'm willing to go hunt for him if there are folks to help defray costs. I make no claim to bad-assery, just a bit over a decade of dealing with third world corruption and thuggery.
All in all, I'd prefer to hear that he's safe and simply out of contact, but I will go looking if we have enough interest and a thread to start with.
Last edited by LowKey on Sun May 20, 2018 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sun May 20, 2018 5:59 am

From CNBC: Venezuela’s Maduro seeks fresh mandate amid unprecedented social and economic crises
The vote comes at a time when citizens of the Latin American state are struggling to cope with widespread food shortages, the collapse of their traditional currency and relentless hyperinflation.

Officials from the United Nations, the U.S., the European Union and Venezuela's neighbors have already denounced Caracas' forthcoming presidential election as a sham.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is thought to be considering adding targeted crude sanctions to measures already taken to stop Venezuela issuing more debt.

By Sam Meredith | @smeredith19 - Published 8:26 AM ET Fri, 18 May 2018 Updated 10:19 AM ET Fri, 18 May 2018 - CNBC.com

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is poised to win re-election on Sunday, despite widespread anger over the country's crushing economic crisis.

The vote comes at a time when citizens of the Latin American state are struggling to cope with widespread food shortages, the collapse of their traditional currency and relentless hyperinflation — which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast to hit 13,000 percent in 2018.

At the same time, almost 75 percent of Venezuelans are reportedly suffering from weight loss while unemployment in the country is expected to skyrocket to 32 percent over the next four years.

Yet, with the country's mainstream opposition boycotting the vote — and two of its most popular leaders barred from running — the socialist incumbent is seen on the brink of securing a fresh mandate to serve as premier for another six years.

'Propaganda war'

"Maduro will win… the opposition is completely demoralized and broken. In fact, they are even unsure if the boycott is the right way to go because divisions between the two candidates only helps Maduro's cause," Nicholas Watson, Latin America analyst at New-York based Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC in a phone interview.

An abstention push from Maduro's political opponents, on the grounds that voting conditions in the oil-dependent country are unfair, has left the outcome of the ballot in little doubt.

Nonetheless, Watson said the boycotting strategy was not completely without merit.

"It actually could be quite an effective tactic if national and international photographers have nothing but sparse queues to take pictures of. Okay, the government will probably respond with pictures of slightly busier voting booths, but that could still spark a propaganda war."

What about the political challengers?

Maduro's main political rival is former state governor Henri Falcon, who broke with the opposition coalition in order to stand for election, insisting the only way to remove the incumbent would be to defeat him at the ballot box.

While polling in the country is somewhat unreliable given the larger-than-expected abstention rates, some projections do show Falcon ahead of Maduro.

Regardless, even if Falcon or another political opponent could win the vote, analysts say he would most likely be hamstrung by Maduro's allies. The current president controls the military and effectively every branch of government.

And the international response?
Officials from the United Nations, the U.S., the European Union and Venezuela's neighbors have already denounced Caracas' forthcoming presidential election as a sham.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is thought to be considering adding targeted crude sanctions to measures already taken to stop Venezuela issuing more debt. External observers have said such a move would constitute the "death knell" for the OPEC member's economy.

President Donald Trump walks into the Rose Garden at the White House on May 3, 2018 in Washington, DC.
"Oil sanctions would be devastating to the Venezuelan economy and to the regime's internal stability as they would very strongly impact the revenues that flow through the patronage regime," Fernando Freijedo, Latin America analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via email.

'Key moment' for Venezuela

Maduro's leftist administration is almost entirely dependent on crude sales in order to try to decelerate its spiraling crises.

Venezuela's production collapse has seen its crude output drop to around 1.4 million barrels a day (bpd) in recent months — a spectacular fall of nearly 40 percent since 2015.

"Whether sanctions are enacted or not, it is very likely that reasonably soon — say, within the next 12 months — there will be an internal crisis in the regime as the patronage system that ensures internal stability becomes eroded. That will be a key moment for Venezuela," Freijedo said.

Sam Meredith - Digital Reporter, CNBC.com
I hope Dr. C is ok. :?

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by woodsghost » Sun May 20, 2018 7:07 am

There are good reasons to talk about civil war on this forum. Many of our membership is not US based. I too hope Doc C. is ok.
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sun May 20, 2018 5:51 pm

The voting is ongoing in Venezuela right now. Very low turnout according to NPR on their hourly podcast.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by NamelessStain » Mon May 21, 2018 5:29 am

Well guess who won with 68% of the vote? (Also a 75 disapproval rating?) Could have saved a lot of money just announcing this last week and skipping the show.

https://www.afp.com/en/news/23/venezuel ... oc-1572035
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Stercutus » Mon May 21, 2018 6:04 am

NamelessStain wrote:Well guess who won with 68% of the vote? (Also a 75 disapproval rating?) Could have saved a lot of money just announcing this last week and skipping the show.

https://www.afp.com/en/news/23/venezuel ... oc-1572035
Amateurs.

Saddam had 100% of the vote in 2002.
Kim Jon il = 99.9%
Raul Castro 99.4%
Saparmurat Niyazov 99.5%
Bashar Al-Asad = 97.6%
Mikheil Saakashvili = 96%

Those are real margins of victory there, not leaving nearly a third as troublemakers.
I hope Dr. C is ok. :?
Some of the world's slowest internet combined with low scale civil war and oppressive governmental controls of media will slow things down.
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Mon May 21, 2018 7:20 am

From NPR: Venezuela's Maduro Wins Boycotted Elections Amid Charges Of Fraud
May 21, 20181:13 AM ET By Scott Neuman

Venezuela's leftist President Nicholas Maduro has easily won a second term, but his main rivals have refused to accept the results, calling the polling fraudulent — a view shared by the United States and many independent observers.

Venezuela's National Election Council, run by Maduro loyalists, said that with nearly 93 percent of polling stations reporting by Sunday, Maduro had won almost 68 percent of the vote, beating his nearest challenger, Henri Falcon, by almost 40 points.

"They underestimated me," said a triumphant Maduro to cheers from his supporters as fireworks sounded and confetti fell at the presidential palace in Caracas.

Maduro, 55, replaced Hugo Chavez when the longtime Venezuelan socialist died of cancer in 2013. Since then, Maduro has presided over a collapsing economy, hyperinflation, widespread hunger and a mass of refugees trying to escape the desperate conditions. The country has been further hit by falling oil exports and U.S. imposed sanctions.

Fewer than half of registered voters turned up at the polls, but the opposition, which has boycotted the election, said even that figure was inflated.

Those opposed to Maduro have long maintained that the election is fraudulent, not least because the opposition's most popular leaders — the ones with the best chance of unseating the president — were barred from running.

As NPR's Philip Reeves reports from Caracas, "Throughout the day voting stations appeared almost empty around the capital." Despite that, election officials claim turnout of nearly 50 percent.

"The process undoubtedly lacks legitimacy and as such we do not recognize it," said Falcon, a 56-year-old former state governor.

According to The Associated Press, "Falcon was joined in his call for a new election by third-place finisher Javier Bertucci, who got around 11 percent of the vote. Bertucci, a TV evangelist, stopped short of challenging the results, saying what he called a mistaken opposition boycott also boosted Maduro."

Reuters writes:
"Falcon, a former member of the Socialist Party who went over to the opposition in 2010, said he was outraged at the government's placing of nearly 13,000 pro-government stands called "red spots" close to polling stations nationwide.

Mainly poor Venezuelans were asked to scan state-issued "fatherland cards" at red tents after voting in hope of receiving a "prize" promised by Maduro, which opponents said was akin to vote-buying.

The "fatherland cards" are required to receive benefits including food boxes and money transfers."
In the run-up to the election, Freedom House issued a statement calling it "clearly unconstitutional" and called Maduro a "dictator" who has crushed all opposition.

As voting took place on Sunday, a senior State Department official warned that the U.S. might press ahead on threats of imposing crippling oil sanctions, according to the AP.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Stercutus » Mon May 21, 2018 6:54 pm

"They underestimated me," said a triumphant Maduro
Indeed, I thought it would take him ten years to destroy the country. He's a fast mover that one.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Tue May 22, 2018 7:23 am

From NPR: President Trump Approves New Sanctions On Venezuela
May 22, 20183:49 AM ET By Scott Neuman

President Trump has signed new economic sanctions against Venezuela a day after the country's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, won elections that have been widely condemned as fraudulent.

The U.S. order would clamp down on the South American country's ability to liquidate assets, but the Trump administration fell short of imposing threatened new oil sanctions.

Trump said the executive order would prevent Venezuela's government from conducting "fire sales" of its assets.

"[This] money belongs to the Venezuelan people," he said.

Also on Monday, 14 nations from throughout the Americas, including heavyweights such as Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, pledged to scale back diplomatic relations with Venezuela following elections over the weekend that renewed Maduro's grip on power with a comfortable margin of victory, even though the country's most popular leaders have been barred from running and the opposition boycotted the vote.

"We call for the Maduro regime to restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression and economic deprivation of the Venezuelan people," Trump said in a statement.

Maduro, 55, replaced long-time socialist ruler Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in 2013. Since then, Maduro has presided over an economy in freefall, which has spawned hyperinflation, widespread hunger and an exodus of economic refugees.

Trump also called for Venezuela to release all political prisoners, a likely reference to the case of Joshua Holt, 26-year-old Utah man who has been imprisoned without charge since he was arrested in Caracas two years ago.

The Associated Press notes that Venezuelan opposition leaders "said the Venezuelan people had delivered a silent by powerful message by largely abstaining from Sunday's vote. The election drew the lowest participation on record for a presidential contest in decades."

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Tue May 22, 2018 7:16 pm

From NPR: What The World Needs To Do After Venezuela's Vote
May 22, 20181:35 PM ET By Ted Piccone

Ted Piccone (@piccone_ted) is a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

Venezuela's latest electoral affair only worsened the country's continued slide from a relatively stable middle-income democracy to a socialist authoritarian system stricken with hyperinflation, rising poverty, declining oil production and record levels of violent crime. Rather than boost President Nicolás Maduro's standing after five years in power, the low voter turnout — down from 80 percent in 2013 to 46 percent on Sunday — coupled with a clear rejection of the results by the United States, Canada and a group of 13 Latin American nations, leaves the protégé of former President Hugo Chávez with a crisis of governability. Maduro may have won the vote count but in the process lost the legitimacy to govern.

Venezuela's deterioration toward despotism and despair comes as little surprise. For years, experts have warned that increasing executive control of the country's democratic institutions alongside gross mismanagement of its oil-dominated economy would lead to worsening conditions for its 30 million citizens. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have left the country in the past two years, many of them desperate to escape the confluence of food and medicine shortages, lack of decent jobs, terrible crime and political repression.

The situation today is a tragic reversal of the heady days when Chávez first launched his Bolivarian revolution in 1998, promising to spread Venezuela's vast petroleum wealth more fairly among the majority poor. For years, the charismatic revolutionary rode the wave of high oil prices to deliver social benefits to his constituents, helping him not only to overcome general strikes, mass protests and a coup attempt, but also to win relatively free and fair elections multiple times. He abused that electoral popularity and government largesse to rewrite the constitution in his favor, create paramilitary "Bolivarian circles," stack the courts and electoral council with his loyalists, control the state-owned oil firm, and stifle free media.

Chávez also effectively used the country's oil reserves, the world's largest, to insulate his regime from U.S. pressure, securing favorable loans from China and new military equipment and energy deals from Russia.

By the time Chávez died in March 2013, the winning formula for an elected authoritarian was well-entrenched. His hand-picked successor, Maduro, narrowly won elections a month later and quickly consolidated control by digging even deeper into the trough of state resources to buy off the military, nationalize industries and woo enough voters to stave off electoral defeat.

This strategy, however, has probably run its course. With mounting foreign debt, falling oil production, increased sanctions, diplomatic isolation and a spreading humanitarian crisis on his hands, Maduro can survive only by taking painful steps to reform a system that fuels his regime's authority. Since this is unlikely, we should expect to see an increasingly desperate hardening of his administration's tactics against his opponents, domestic and foreign, and an intensified reliance on China and Russia for support.
The goals are relatively clear — weaken Maduro enough to force him to negotiate a peaceful exit while preventing a worsening humanitarian crisis. Washington, however, is not well-positioned politically to lead the charge.
For the United States and the international community, Venezuela presents a particularly tricky case. The goals are relatively clear — weaken Maduro enough to force him to negotiate a peaceful exit while preventing a worsening humanitarian crisis that is already destabilizing neighboring Colombia and fragile Caribbean states and could bring thousands of desperate Venezuelans to U.S. borders.

Washington, however, is not well-positioned politically to lead the charge. Threats of military intervention, already uttered by President Trump, are a non-starter. Support for a military coup likewise would seriously set back U.S. standing in the region. For the past three decades, the U.S. has mostly stood firm in support of democratic and negotiated solutions to the Latin America's internal political crises. That leaves expanding the list of targeted economic sanctions, coordinated with partners in the region and Europe, to pressure Maduro and his allies to come to the negotiating table in a serious way.

Up until now, Maduro has managed to avoid such a negotiated pact with the opposition, which remains divided and demoralized. They are not, however, defeated. They will likely return to the streets to protest the government's abuses and economic malfeasance. As the country becomes more ungovernable, moderates in the ruling socialist party may realize that the benefits of the current system can only be preserved through compromise.

A new mediation process should be launched as soon as possible, facilitated by the United Nations under the secretary-general's banner of conflict prevention, and supported by a coalition of states that includes not only key South American countries like Peru, Chile and Argentina, but also the United States, France, Germany, China and the Vatican. An early agreement should be reached to allow international agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance to malnourished and sick Venezuelans before they attempt to leave the country. And a package of economic incentives should be assembled to prepare for a post-Maduro scenario.

In sum, while Maduro may claim a historic victory that solidifies his hold on power, the reality is just the opposite. If the domestic opposition can rally, it will signal to the international community that a coordinated plan of increased sanctions and facilitated talks is feasible.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by NamelessStain » Thu May 24, 2018 7:34 am

It seems some people are not happy with the results.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-secur ... -election/

Any ZSers down there, stay safe.
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Thu May 24, 2018 10:14 am

NamelessStain wrote:It seems some people are not happy with the results.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-secur ... -election/

Any ZSers down there, stay safe.
I hope Dr. C is ok. (slightly worried emoji).

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Thu May 24, 2018 3:20 pm

From the Mises Institute: Are China and the Yuan the Future of Venezuela?
05/23/2018 By Tho Bishop

Nicolás Maduro may have received more votes in Venezuela’s recent presidential election, but the record-low voter turnout is widely seen as its own form of protest against his increasingly oppressive socialist regime. So as long as Maduro’s government controls the voting process, his opponents will continue to advocate elections boycotts to try to erode the legitimacy of his government. Once again we see democracy being wielded as a weapon by tyrants, rather than an answer for political victims.

The true challenge to Maduro’s regime will not come from elections, but rather the growing threat of a coup. While the political heir to Chavez has managed to keep the military loyal by allowing them to profit from cartelizing vital supplies, the continuing deterioration of the nation’s economy has sparked growing rebellion and desertion among the ranks. As Maduro’s government has continued to doubled-down on the same failed socialist policies that created one of the world’s gravest humanitarian crises, action by the military is increasingly seen as inevitable – including by the leaders of neighboring countries.

Of course the destruction of Venezuela is not the result of a single man, and the issues plaguing the country will not simply disappear with his removal. So the question is what options realistically exist for a post-Maduro Venezuela, and what would those ramifications be for both its people and the rest of the world?

A few years ago I looked at what Ludwig von Mises would recommend Venezuela do, drawing inspiration from his writings on post-World War I Austria. Policy recommendations included condemning the socialist ideology that destroyed the country, mass-privatization of the economy, abandoning the bolivar, and abandoning all trade restrictions. While these would still be the ideal tonic for what ills the country, even in the face of socialist ruin the intellectual climate of Venezuela is still far from the classical liberalism of Mises.

This is demonstrated by the sad reality that the leading opposition parties, including Justice First, Popular Will, Democratic Unity Roundtable, and Democratic Action are a reaction to the violent crackdown and growing unconstitutional authoritarianism of Maduro’s government, rather than socialist ideology itself. In fact, all but Justice First still explicitly make socialist appeals in their political campaigns. The continued appeal of socialism among the public is so great that Henrique Capriles, a leading oppositional figure, called for a socialist-coalition as the best strategy to take down Maduro.

So if the public will does not exist to embrace true market reforms, what options exist for the country?

The first issue Venezuela faces is transitioning away from the bolivar that has become worth less than World of Warcraft currency thanks to Maduro’s hyperinflationary policies.

The best recent example of transitioning away from such monetary chaos is Zimbabwe, which stopped printing its own worthless currency in 2009 and transitioned to using the US dollar at an exchange rate of $1 for Z$35,000,000,000,000,000. It’s possible that Venezuela could make a similar move – especially as US dollars are already circulating in what few markets still function in the country.

Unfortunately this may not work quite as well in today’s Venezuela.

If the Venezuelan people are not prepared to completely discard the personality cult of the late-Hugo Chavez, a full embrace of the American dollar may face complications – in part due to the US’s militarization of financial markets in recent years. While the pros may still outweigh the cons to formally adopting the dollar, there may be another option with unique appeal to Venezuela: the Chinese yuan.

Will China Bailout Venezuela?

Even during the peaks of the oil boom, the Venezuela’s socialist economy relied greatly on the Chinese government. China is already Venezuela's biggest lender, and has already been forced to restructure payments with its largest investment in Latin America. Of course Venezuela is going to need more than debt restructuring to stabilize its financial situation. Given its aggressive desire to expand its global economic footprint, China may see potential in a broad Venezuelan bailout package – one that could include the country formally adopting the yuan.

In 2015, the Mugabe government of Zimbabwe tried to make a big deal out of adopting the yuan as a legal currency in exchange for debt cancelation. The problem is that the announcement ignored that the yuan had already been legal currency dating back to 2009, and the debt forgiveness package was largely “a mirage.” This is understandable. Zimbabwe is of modest value to China outside of its use in projecting a growing global Chinese influence – with its tobacco industry the most lucrative trade the African nation has with its Eastern benefactor.

Venezuela’s oil reserves, on the other hand, have long interested China’s Communist Party – and Maduro’s government already prices it in renminbi as a way to get around the US dollar. What if China offers a bailout package – including perhaps skilled workers to replace those that have fled the government-operated PDVSA – dependent on Venezuela receiving oil payments made in the yuan? Given how vital the oil economy is to Venezuela’s economy – making up 50% of GDP - renminbi would likely begin to quickly circulate through the Venezuelan economy in a way that hasn’t happened in Zimbabwe markets.

China would benefit from this arrangement in ways beyond its own energy consumption. A formal adoption of the yuan would give the country its strongest foothold in Latin America to date, a new partner to its “One Belt, One Road” initative, and would offer the most significant challenge yet to the dollars' hegemony in energy markets due to the sheer size of Venezuela’s reserves. Since Chinese officials have made it clear that they want to reduce global dependence on the dollar in the future, this could be a strong power play – particularly given the back and forth on trade we’ve seen between Xi and the Trump Administration (which could possibly see this as a 21st Century violation of the Monroe Doctrine.)

Of course Venezuela’s hyperinflation is really a consequence of the country's larger economic evils: the destruction of economic productivity due to the nationalization of industry and an expensive welfare state.

The rise of China is itself a testament to what even modest steps to market liberalization can do for a previously socialist economy. If Chinese support comes with stronger property rights than we see under Maduro – whose government recently nationalized a Kellogg’s plant – then this too would represent a positive step forward for Venezuelan citizens, even if it would reduce the country to more of a vassal state of China.

China Can’t Save Venezuela

While a Chinese bailout of Venezuela could offer desperately needed relief to the country, this third-way approach can’t go on forever – and China itself may end up being an illustration of this. For all the talk of China’s economic strength, the country has been forced to resort to overstating its own economic growth in recent years, and is very likely still doing so today.

Even more troubling is China’s own reliance on debt to keep its economy growing. While lacking the massive welfare programs of Chavez and Maduro, China has been indulging in a decade-long debt binge with massive government spending on everything from infrastructure, industry, and island creation. While the strength of China’s government gives it significant power in kicking the can down the road, global officials – such as the Reserve Bank of Australia - are starting to get alarmed.

The threat to China stems from the same reason that could make it attractive to a future Venezuelan government: their shared socialist ideology and belief in central planning. While China has long departed from the communist policies in Mao – even if Xi aspires for his degree of power – its continued reliance on government-centric five year plans and bloated state-run firms has created its own form of Keynesian nightmare.

In the words of Per Bylund:
The Chinese economy obviously relies very heavily on state-sponsored, state-planned projects such as these constructions of buildings. It probably wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that the Chinese economy is a Keynesian jobs project of outrageous scale, which also means that is as removed from real value creation as any Keynesian undertaking....

What China teaches us about economics and economic policy is the lesson that is generally not provided in college classrooms: the important distinction within production between value creation and capital consumption. The story of China’s economic development is to a great extent one of unsustainable, centrally planned growth specifically in terms of GDP — but a lack of sustainable value creation, capital accumulation, and entrepreneurship.
In conclusion, while my wish is to see the Venezuelan people be rid of the vile Maduro government as quickly as possible, the country is haunted far more by its continued loyalty to socialism than it is the actions of a particular government leader. While the realities of modern Venezuela – combined with the global ambitions of China – could make a deal between the two countries a logical outcome, the Chinese model is not one that will bring prolonged prosperity.

True hope for Venezuela, and the rest of Latin America, must come from rejecting the inevitable failures of Marxism and embracing a Misesian understanding of economics and classical liberalism.

In other words, Menos Marx, Mas Mises.

Tho is an assistant editor for the Mises Wire, and can assist with questions from the press.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sat May 26, 2018 9:38 pm

CELEBRATION!!!!

From NPR: Joshua Holt, American Held In Venezuela, Is Welcomed Home
May 26, 2018 9:26 PM ET By Emma Bowman

Joshua Holt, a Utah native held in Venezuelan jail for nearly two years, returned to U.S. soil on Saturday, and was welcomed by President Trump.

In 2016, the 26-year-old set out for Venezuela to marry his fiancée Thamara Candelo, but ended up in the El Helicoide prison without trial, after police claimed to have found weapons in the couple's apartment.

As NPR reported last year:
"After their honeymoon last year, the couple settled into Candelo's apartment in a housing project on the outskirts of Caracas. They had planned to move to the U.S. with Candelo's two young daughters, and were waiting for approval for her U.S. visa.

But on June 30, an anti-gang police squad burst into Candelo's apartment, where agents claimed to find an AK-47 assault rifle and a grenade. Holt and Candelo were hauled off to jail."
Holt's release comes a day after Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) personally met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. In April, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) had also met with Maduro to press Holt's release.

President Trump said Saturday morning that he looked forward to welcoming Holt to the White House that evening.

"Looking forward to seeing Joshua Holt this evening in the White House," he tweeted. "The great people of Utah are Celebrating!"

Surrounded by his family on one couch, and the lawmakers who had long sought his release on another, Holt was welcomed home in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House Sunday evening.

"You were a tough one!" Trump told Holt. "But we've had 17 [prisoners] released," during the Trump administration, the president said.

In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nodded to the efforts of those who had followed Holt's plight. "We extend our special thanks to Senator Bob Corker, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, Representative Mia Love, and all the other members of Congress who have worked on behalf of the Holt family over the past two years and helped to make this day a reality," he said.

Holt said he was "overwhelmed with gratitude" to those who urged his release.
There is also some backstory on this webpage.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:56 am

Venezuelan security forces killing hundreds, UN says, with rule of law 'virtually absent'
Government security forces in Venezuela are carrying out unjustified killings without any apparent consequences as the rule of law in the country quickly vanishes, according to the United Nations.

A report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Venezuelan officers accused in some 500 questionable killings appeared to be evading any charges.

That is a sign that checks and balances have been chiselled away, leaving state authorities unaccountable, high commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.

The UN report highlighted a case from early this year in which rebel police officer Oscar Perez and six in his group were shot to death as they tried to surrender.

UN officials say they believe the group was killed on orders from top government officials, in violation of their basic rights.

"The rule of law is virtually absent in Venezuela," Mr Zeid said in the report.

"The impunity must end."

Venezuela rejected the UN report as a "grotesque media farce", saying it omitted information officials in Caracas provided to investigators.

The findings were part of an international push against Venezuela led by officials in Washington, the ministry said.

"Venezuela reiterates its unrelenting commitment to human rights set out in Venezuela's Constitution and international treaties," officials in Caracas said in a statement.

However, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres "believes that the numbers are truly shocking," deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said later on Friday at UN headquarters.

He said Mr Guterres felt the report "attests to the need for political dialogue and a fully inclusive political solution" to the problems roiling Venezuela.

The report shed light on the death of Mr Perez, who was killed in January when government forces hunted his group down to a mountain hideout outside Caracas.

He had been Venezuela's most-wanted fugitive after attacking government buildings in a stolen police helicopter.

The report said 400 officers armed with assault rifles and an anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher surrounded Mr Perez, who was seen on video calling to surrender.

Police later recovered four rifles, a pistol and two hand grenades from the hideout.

UN officials said their investigation led them to believe that officials who reported directly to socialist President Nicolas Maduro killed the seven rebels in violation of their human rights, and then destroyed evidence.

Venezuela a country in crisis

Venezuela is in the grips of a deepening political and economic crisis marked by food and medicine shortages and soaring inflation that has driven thousands to flee the country in search of a better life.

The country's government has drawn international condemnation since last year, when officials loyal to Mr Maduro formed a constitutional assembly, robbing power from the democratically-elected congress, which is controlled by the opposition.

The UN report looked at cases of excessive government force seen beyond violent street protests and also cites examples of officials threatening or detaining health care workers for shedding light on the lack of medicine and poor conditions.

The report concluded that between 2015 and 2017, some 357 officers were placed under investigation stemming from 505 killings during supposed neighbourhood raids.

But Venezuela's attorney-general, who was critical of Mr Maduro, was replaced last August, and no more information about the prosecutions had been made public, the report said.

It added that evidence appeared to have vanished from case files.

"The state appears neither able nor willing to prosecute serious human rights violations," Mr Zeid said, suggesting the International Criminal Court play a deeper role.

Venezuelan officials did not allow UN officials into the country to compile the report.

Investigators gathered information remotely and included interviews with victims, witnesses, lawyers and doctors.

AP/ABC

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:01 pm

Venezuela Travel Advisory
Venezuela Travel Advisory

Travel Advisory May 29, 2018 Venezuela - Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel:

On roads after dark outside of Caracas due to crime.

To certain neighborhoods within Caracas due to crime.

Within 50 miles of the Colombian border due to crime.

Violent crime, such as homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking, is common.

Political rallies and demonstrations occur, often with little notice. Demonstrations typically elicit a strong police and security force response that includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets against participants and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism.

There are shortages of food, electricity, water, medicine, and medical supplies throughout much of Venezuela. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 ‘Avoid Nonessential Travel’ notice on May 15, 2018 due to inadequate healthcare and the breakdown of the medical infrastructure in Venezuela.

Security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods. The U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Venezuela:

Do not travel between cities after dark.

Avoid travel between Simón Bolívar International Airport and Caracas at night.

Do not take unregulated taxis from Simón Bolívar International Airport and avoid ATMs in this area.

Avoid demonstrations.

Bring a sufficient supply of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.

Review the Crime and Safety Report for Venezuela.

U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Areas outside Caracas

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Caracas as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside of Caracas. Inter-city travel by car from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. is strongly discouraged and, in some cases, may be prohibited for U.S. government employees.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Certain neighborhoods in Caracas

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services in certain neighborhoods in Caracas as U.S. government personnel and their families are subject to travel restrictions for their safety and well-being. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling in the following neighborhoods on personal business:

Western Libertador (Coche, El Valle, El Retiro, 23 de Enero, Blandin, La Vega, La Rinconada, Las Mayas, Tazón, Oropeza Castillo, Lomas de Urdaneta, Propatria, Casalta, Lomas De Propatria, Carapita, Antímano, Tacagua, Ruíz Pineda, Caricuao, La Quebradita, El Atlántico, Sarría, San Martín and La Yaguara)

Eastern Sucre (Barrio Píritu, Barrio La Rubia, Barrio Altavista, Petare, Caucaguita, La Dolorita, Paulo Sexto, El Llanito)

Specific neighborhoods in Baruta (Las Minas, Santa Cruz del Este, Ojo de Agua, La Naya, Las Minitas)

U.S. personnel are also prohibited from travel outside of the Embassy’s housing area between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. in a single, unarmored car. Additionally, all U.S. personnel are required to be out of public venues and physically located within the Embassy’s housing area or another specified secure location from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m.

See the Safety and Security section of the country information page for additional details.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Colombian border

Drug traffickers and armed groups are active in the Colombian border states of Zulia, Tachira, and Apure. Cross-border violence, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and smuggling occur frequently in these areas. Some kidnap victims are released after ransom payments, while others are murdered.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the Colombian border as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel there.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by NamelessStain » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:02 am

Utopia!

https://www.bloombergquint.com/business ... takes-over


(Bloomberg) -- To arrive at the El Paraiso water-filling station in Caracas by sunrise, Rigoberto Sanchez wakes before 4 a.m. Hours later, his tanker is in a slow-moving line with a dozen others. Only two of the 10 pumps work and Sanchez will have time for a couple of deliveries if he’s lucky. If he’s luckier, the military won’t intercept him.

“They hijack our trucks, just like that,” said Sanchez, leaning on a rusty railing. “Once that happens, you’re in their hands, you have to drive the truck wherever they want you to.”’

Venezuela’s military has come to oversee the desperate and lucrative water trade as reservoirs empty, broken pipes flood neighborhoods and overwhelmed personnel walk out. Seven major access points in the capital of 5.5 million people are now run by soldiers or police, who also took total control of all public and private water trucks. Unofficially, soldiers direct where drivers deliver — and make them give away the goods at favored addresses.

President Nicolas Maduro’s autocratic regime has handed lucrative industries to the 160,000-member military as the economic collapse gathers speed, from the mineral-rich region of the Arco Minero del Orinoco to top slots at the state oil producer to increasingly precious control over food and water. Maduro has promoted hundreds of officers since he became president in 2013 — there are some 1,000 active and retired generals, admirals and officers in public office, and military officers hold 9 of 32 cabinet posts.

Last week, the president named Evelyn Vasquez, an official of state utility Hidrocapital, as the head of a new water ministry, a move he said would help achieve access and care standards laid out in the United Nations’s Millennium Development Goals. The country was supposed to have reached that landmark by 2015, but the crisis hasn’t respected bureaucratic timetables.

“The water sector has been completely taken because of a government that believes the military can grant order to things,” said Norberto Bausson, who was the head of Hidrocapital in the 1990s. “If on top of this institutional incompetence, you add a dry year, then the consequences are tremendous.”

Thus has necessity become a luxury in Venezuela.

Theoretically, water in the socialist nation is subsidized, costing pennies a month. But the pipes in Caracas haven’t been renewed in three decades and Bausson said that repair crews have dwindled to about 40 from 400 back when he was in charge. Most pumps that bring water from reservoirs outside Caracas are only partly working. Two auxiliary dams, meant to guarantee supply for 15 days in emergencies, are critically low or empty.

Hidrocapital sometimes entirely cuts service for as long as 48 hours. Most people in Caracas get 30 minutes of water mornings and nights, igniting a mad rush to leave work or social gatherings to shower, wash and clean.

An unpublished report from the Caritas charity, which serves the poorest areas in four states, found that in April only 27 percent of families had continuous access to safe water from state supplies. About 65 percent had access less than three days a week. In Miranda state, no poor families at all had water more often that.

Those who want more must pay. Private tankers like Sanchez had been filling up and reselling water for many times its worth. Then, military personnel were deployed to the capital’s water points in May in an emergency supply plan.

The El Paraiso station is blocks from El Guaire, a filthy river carrying sewer water that the late President Hugo Chavez pledged to clean enough for a swim back in 2005. Even before the sun heats the muddy waters, the scent is putrid. It is untreated. Unpotable and drinking water must come from elsewhere.

Depending on driving distance from the water point, Sanchez charges about 18 million bolivars to fill an average residential building’s tank. For bigger jobs he can charge up to 50 million. While that’s just $17 at black-market exchange rates, compares that to a month’s minimum wage of about $1.

Recently, Sanchez has a new expense: Military officers have begun commandeering trucks, according to a dozen water providers in Caracas. Drivers are forced to go wherever officers tell them without the expectation of pay. Sometimes they’re led to government buildings, others to military residences or private homes. In other cases, soldiers simply block access to springs and wells. At a filling station near a large park in Eastern Caracas, a lock had been placed on the water lever.

Kariandre Rincon, a press official for Venezuela’s Defense Ministry, declined to comment on the military’s recent encroachment on the country’s water resources and trucks.

Read a QuickTake: Why Venezuela’s Sliding Toward Dictatorship, Default

When water makes a rare appearance at Odalys Duque’s two-bedroom home, it’s usually at dawn and wakes her with a rattle at the bottom of a plastic drum. She then has to rush to align buckets, bins and pots in hopes of gathering every drop for her husband and two small children.

In mid June they’d had none for three weeks. Instead, they survived on what was left in a roof tank and what her husband could carry in paint buckets strapped on his shoulders from a well at the bottom of the sprawling hillside slum of Petare.

“It’s an ugly situation that keeps getting uglier,” said Duque, 32. “The little one cries when I pour the bucket of cold water on him, but at least we still get something. My family that lives higher up the mountain hasn’t had water in months.”

The Latin American Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank together loaned Venezuela more than half a billion dollars in the past 10 years for water projects. They included the renovation of some of the country’s largest treatment centers and treatment of El Guaire, where protesters last year waded into its filthy waters to escape tear gas during massive anti-government rallies. None of it helped.

Mosquito-spread diseases like dengue fever and Zika have multiplied as the insects lay eggs on people’s buckets or rain barrels, according to Carlos Walter, head of a Central University social-science institute. Lack of personal hygiene promotes skin diseases like scabies, he said.

“Access to water is even more important than access to food for the population’s nutritional well being,” said Susana Raffalli, an expert on nutrition in countries under crisis. “Unsafe or contaminated water leads to diseases that alter the biological structure needed for nutrition or even worsen malnutrition.”

The situation governs much of Duque’s life. For drinking water, she waits for particles to settle at the bottom of plastic buckets and then pours the surface water into a pot where she boils it at least half an hour. For laundry, she’ll wash several loads of clothes and linens in the same dirty water.

Elderly people and children from neighborhoods even higher up the mountain knock on her door asking for water. “I always give them something, even if it’s just a glass,” she said.



©2018 Bloomberg L.P.
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Stercutus » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:58 am

Mosquito-spread diseases like dengue fever and Zika have multiplied as the insects lay eggs on people’s buckets or rain barrels, according to Carlos Walter, head of a Central University social-science institute. Lack of personal hygiene promotes skin diseases like scabies, he said.

“Access to water is even more important than access to food for the population’s nutritional well being,” said Susana Raffalli, an expert on nutrition in countries under crisis. “Unsafe or contaminated water leads to diseases that alter the biological structure needed for nutrition or even worsen malnutrition.”

The situation governs much of Duque’s life. For drinking water, she waits for particles to settle at the bottom of plastic buckets and then pours the surface water into a pot where she boils it at least half an hour. For laundry, she’ll wash several loads of clothes and linens in the same dirty water.

Elderly people and children from neighborhoods even higher up the mountain knock on her door asking for water. “I always give them something, even if it’s just a glass,” she said.
Lots to think about here especially for those dependent upon a water delivery system.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

MPMalloy
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 3670
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 2:48 am

Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:53 pm

Truly! It is paradise on Earth!

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