InSight Crime. “Venezuela: A Mafia State?” Seven-part series, May 16, 2018 to May 25, 2018. Full report: InSight Crime. “Venezuela: A Mafia State?” Report (PDF): 1) “7 Reasons for Describing Venezuela as a ‘Mafia State’”, Mary 16, 2018; 2) “Drug Trafficking Within the Venezuelan Regime: The ‘Cartel of the Suns’”, May 17, 2018; 3) “The Devolution of State Power: The ‘Colectivos’”, May 18, 2018; 4) “The Devolution of State Power: ‘The Pranes’,” May 20, 2018; 5) “Colombia and Venezuela: Criminal Siamese Twins,” May 21, 2018; 6) “Honduras and Venezuela: Coup and Cocaine Air Bridge,” May 23, 2018; 7) “Dominican Republic and Venezuela: Cocaine Across the Caribbean,” May 24, 2018; 8) “Venezuela and El Salvador: Exporting Aid and Corruption,” May 25, 2018.
Instead of abetting or encouraging the survival of President Nicolas Maduro’s now brutal regime in Venezuela, Representative Ilhan Omar may do better to review how starvation came to visit the South American state — wondrously rich with resources — in the first place.
Venezuela as petrostate had a fine run on high and rising oil prices, but as crude pricing fell, the state discovered discovered itself as yet . . . undeveloped — and foremost in its oil sector. From the above cited Foreign Policy piece:
The problem for Chávez was that many of the PDVSA’s then-managers wanted to increaseproduction, by continuing the development of Venezuela’s technically challenging heavy oil fields. To do so, they needed to reinvest more of the company’s earnings rather than hand them all over to the government. So the managers had to go.
It was only the beginning of the mismanagement of Venezuela’s oil reserves.
What about other sectors of the economy?
On agriculture, here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post (Mariana Zunig and Nick Miroff, “Venezuela’s paradox: People are hungry, but farmers can’t feed them”, May 22, 2017):
“Last year I had 200,000 hens,” said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. “Now I have 70,000.”
Several of his cavernous hen houses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable, and armed gangs have been squeezing him for extortion payments and stealing his eggs.
As well known to other communist and socialist bureaucracies, the government owns all, but to play the role of an enlightened hub for all that the state needs and needs to share equally, it has to have something to distribute. As the oil economy collapsed, much around it appears to have caved as well.
Add desperation to insolvency: what the government hasn’t discouraged, ordinary thieves — not to blame them too much for their response to starvation — have apparently stepped in to pick up the slack.
Alas, also, Venezuela’s program had some items it distributes all too well for cash:
The network used a string of heavily guarded nightclubs to generate profits from the forced prostitution, which where then laundered through at least eight companies the group owned.
Thirteen victims were rescued and more than 2 million euros (almost $2.4 million) worth of properties, cash, jewelry and vehicles, as well as weapons, were seized as part of the operation.
Basically, Maduro’s dictatorship and its military (and the state’s mafia) have had between narcotics — noted at the top of this blog — and sundry other criminal undertakings — some nefarious ways of raising cash for themselves.
In the global politics, the regime has also the support of other feudal and absolute powers: Beijing and Moscow have both made arrangements with the hard-struck “socialist” state, and Turkey, famously, has been buying up Venezuelan gold now scraped off the earth by others scrambling for useful cash.
The state of war has become a constant between Beijing, Moscow, and Washington, but the issues are worked either “by other means”i.e., “diplomacy” or through punitive measures that would be violent swipes — and they are that — without the gun play. What works and how far it goes may be indicated by Venezuela’s continuing decline into chaos, darkness, and despair.
The western-supported alternative President Juan Guaido has been able to inspire defections — and that is saying something about the state of the Venezuelan state — but not yet raise the army to compete with Maduro’s heavily leveraged forces.
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