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.
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.
North American Continental Appetite for Narcotics –> Cash –> Central / South America –> Cartel –> Gangs –> Related Violence –> Corruption of Authorities –> General Insecurity –> Displacement of Population | Northern Mass Migration
If you’re on the Soviet / post-Soviet flavored Left / Far Left Progressive Movement, the same that might obtain its image of the world from, say, 927+ or Mint Press, at least consider reading Christopher Dickey’s report on the Cuba-Venezuelan connection and the InSight Crime series on narcotics trafficking and the accumulation of wealth by nominally “communist” and “socialist” so-called “leaders” in captive Central and South American states.
In familiar Orwellian fashion, the New Old Now Old Far Out and Lost Left simply ignores the sustained Soviet / post-Soviet investment in the underworld and what it does to societies everywhere it travels.
Venezuela is of limited strategic importance to Russia, though it offers symbolic significance in demonstrating Putin’s reach into a region seen as Washington’s backyard. Russia doesn’t have the capacity to send forces there as it did to support Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, limiting itself to publicity stunts like a December visit by two nuclear-capable bombers.
Moscow reads the news too, and while perhaps absent of conscience but mindful of money, it’s confidence in the success of the political societies once aligned, captivated, or enthralled with their relationship to the Soviet may be dimming. While perhaps putting a “little” money in the under-the-table pockets of its own, it has also watched parts of Central and South American states churn into cesspool of competing cartels and gangs destroying communities, exporting the nasty — the full smorgasbord of contraband — and for hundreds of thousands producing flight en masse anywhere that hasn’t become a personal no-security hell. Now the chief Phantom of the Soviet appears to be having a look-see at the future of at least one portfolio of debt accumulated by a once ideologically favored son and the picture just isn’t so wonderful as it must have once appeared.
Banning the trading of Russian bonds have been tossed around ever since Trump got elected. Anti-Russian politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken full advantage of Trump being caught in a Russian scandal to force the president to play super hardball with Vladimir Putin and anyone within a country mile of him. Since taking office, Trump has already signed harsher sanctions against Russian individuals and Russian companies, making some of them extra-territorial. Extra-territorial means sanctions apply to non-U.S. citizens and entities transacting with the sanctioned firm subject to penalties.
Let’s start with “East v West”, i.e., “Moscow v Washington” -> “Feudal Absolutism (and Totalitarianism) v Modern Democratic Liberalism” -> and on this blog, “Medieval v Modern”:
As Venezuela’s political crisis is unfolding, the unwavering support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his allies for the embattled Nicolas Maduro has been a wide-discussed theme in international media. For some, by standing by Maduro against the “U.S.-backed coup ”, Turkey is only paying its respects to the Venezuelan president, who expressed solidarity with Erdoğan during the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. Interestingly, Venezuela was among the first countries to back Turkey during the botched coup attempt in Turkey. Maduro’s immediate support to Erdoğan came at a time the Western allies of Ankara were slow to show their reaction over the coup attempt.
What in the hell is Turkey doing in NATO (FB Presence in Part)?
You tell me.
They know how to hang together.
For the time being, some Venezuelans have figured out that money has meaning, and they have gone to ground, literally, to dig up gold that they sell to the Venezuelan state (who else?) and the state sells on to . . . Turkey!
Facilitating the transport of gold is Turkish Airlines, it said, noting, ”On New Year’s Day, 2018, Venezuela’s central bank began shipping gold to Turkey with a $36 million air shipment of the metal to Istanbul. It came just weeks after a visit by Maduro to Turkey. Shipments last year reached $900 million, according to Turkish government data and trade reports.”
— appears to have decided to start over with the Treasure of the Sierra Madre — i.e., with some portion of the people digging up wealth — gold — from out of the ground.
Hey, it’s money.
Oh — it’s also capitalism.
From Business Live:
The scale of Venezuela’s current social, economic and political crisis is so severe it is difficult to comprehend. Hyper-inflation has decimated the national currency and crippled the economy. Oil production — which accounts for 95% of the country’s export revenues — has halved since Maduro took power in 2013 and the industry has been further weakened by the collapse of the price of oil in 2014.
In 2018, the economy contracted by 18% and by the end of the year inflation had soared to 1-million percent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted inflation will increase to 10-million percent by the latter half of 2019. These are dizzying figures but they only reflect one part of the complex situation Venezuela is facing.
Yada yada yada — fodder for dozens to hundreds to thousands of articles avoiding reference to the Soviet / Post-Soviet disaster now 26 years past the dissolving of Russia’s Communist passion play — and the world’s tragedy.
Off the cuff —
Zimbabwe tells the story of a dictatorship that personally reintroduced cholera to its people — and Mugabe made it possibly by denying a rival funds for sanitation chemicals (you may look that one up yourself unless the editor here goes all OCD on you).
Syria — with the help of Moscow and Tehran, Bashar al-Assad has succeeded in barrel bombing half of his state (or more) into deeply depopulated oblivion. While one may thank Mother Nature — oh, and ourselves — for the global warming damaging Syria’s agricultural economy, the necessity, eventual of mass migration may have been met with kindness and international cooperation.
BC guesses not.
Where else would you like to go in the still medieval worlds of “political absolutism”?
BC imagines power quite intoxicating if it can do to innocents what is depicted in the above video.
MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) – Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against U.S. sanctions imposed on his country’s oil industry, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group.
The Organisation for the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and top oil producer but non-member Russia will not create a formal combined body as originally planned, Reuters hasreported. In a draft document, the countries said they aim to set up an alliance rather than a formal organisation when they meet on April 17-18 in Vienna.
BC would add to the list of Moscow’s sphere-of-influence failures — well what is one to expect of criminal mercenaries and politicians!? — Crimea, Ukraine, which has been battle torn torn for five suffering years under Moscow’s false pretenses. From Michael MacKay via his Radio Lemberg:
Almost five years after the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in Crimea, Putin’s army is still on the attack. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are bombarding and assaulting Ukrainian defenders in Donbas, as they have been doing continuously since April 2014. Yesterday, February 10, was typical in that the Russians violated the Minsk Agreement ceasefire in every sector of the battlefront.
The “Grand Game” may be over, but the war between the Medieval of Mind and the Modern Possessed of Conscience and Empathy, the foundations of Democratic Humanism and the above-board distribution of power supporting the best reasoned rule-of-law has just begun.
Iran and other producers have opposed a tighter partnership, fearing it could be dominated by Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to officials in the cartel. Riyadh and Moscow are the world’s top two oil exporters. A Russian Energy Ministry spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
(The story, what with Bloomberg’s “Tic-Toc” and much else in the Mainstream Media fray, has been moving too fast for BackChannels normally placid quasi-academic treatment, bibliography and all. Inline reference and plain old bald URL’s suit in the making of points).
Just so you know, Putin’s recent purchase of a part of Venezuela’s oil resources is part of his (Moscow’s) 49 percent stake in CITGO.
And what does Putin really want: a world beset and bloodied by a revanche in feudal absolutism wandering around intoxicated by supporting and conflicting medieval worldviews.
Venezuela’s President on deck appears less proud about extensions of Yankee democratic good will while altogether more practical:
BackChannels will not beat the majors, but it may yet make some points. Herewith, three videos posted on YouTube within the last 24 hours –>
That last: political criminals!
For other glorious examples of Soviet Communist and post-Soviet socialist era success and the success of other feudal elites propped up by their mafia and military, BackChannels suggests spending time online involved with Syria — political disaster of the 21st Century! — and Zimbabwe (with Robert Mugabe gone, the state appears on the cusp of positive / responsible change).
BackChannels has heard Venezuela describe as ” a dictatorship of corrupt soldiers who traffic with oil, drugs and weapons. They have kidnapped the country. Maduro does not dare confront them and has been kidnapped in the government palace pretending to be president.”
Perhaps Venezuela’s now defecting soldiery will put a stop to her suffering at the hands of military and political criminals.
In the Party I was beginning to see many people of a different stripe. During the war period I saw how opportunism and selfishness engulfed many comrades. They wore expensive clothes, lived in fine apartments, took long vacations at places provided by men of wealth. There was, for one, William Wiener, former treasurer of the Party, manipulator for a score of business enterprises, who wore Brooks Brothers suits, smoked expensive cigars, and lunched only at the best places. There were the trade union Communists who rubbed elbows with underworld characters at communist-financed night clubs, and labor lawyers who were given patronage by the Party by assignment to communist-led trade unions and now were well established and comfortable.
Communist Party USA leader Bell Dodd’s 1954 remark as relayed by Wikipedia may have special resonance today in the socialist’s disaster continuing to unfold — or perhaps preparing to fold — in Venezuela.
While it had been one thing to share Venezuela’s good fortune and wealth with the public, perhaps especially with massive revenues pumped out of the ground, it has been another for the socialist government to suppress the private ownership of productive ideas and resources while utterly failing to diversify a national economy with the intent to forestall a one-market boom-or-bust (it busted) disaster.
For BackChannels, the cite-quote-cite-quote method has grown tiresome, so the reader may take this post as a reference page but with the suggestion that Maduro’s now patently criminal junta — access the OCCRP and InSight Crime reports cited in reference — may choose to loot and flee the country having proven themselves unable to judiciously and responsibly govern the same — or, in the manner demonstrated by Assad in Syria, they may enjoy being carved up by similarly predatory trade partners.
BackChannels’ humanism in relation to economic development would counsel the damping of dogma in the search for a good mix of private incentives for economic diversification x public policies and programs fit to constituent needs for “basics” plus psychological enthusiasm, fitness, and growth. From the same stance, the messianic self-aggrandizement associated with dictatorships would be viewed as damaging and limiting the greater public experience and potential for good things, starting with community-wide and personal security.
(For related exploration or some meditation on dictatorship, this blog offers portals for “Malignant Narcissism” and its own proposed concept, “Facsimile Bipolar Political Sociopathy“. Neither would differentiate between Far Left and Far Right authoritarianism or kleptocracy — and it would place both as more appropriate in the operating environments of the feudal world and fit to related medieval worldviews associated with “political absolutism” and sovereignty. Wherever placed x space x time, the absence of conscience looms large with dictatorships and the related criminality associated with power becomes glaring and, eventually, beyond bearing).
Bella Dodd, by the way, would renounce Communism toward the end of her journey and again embrace the Catholicism with which she had been born.
What is clear from our investigations is that the following institutions are staffed at the higher echelons by individuals we believe are, or have been, engaged in criminal activity: The Vice Presidency, the Ministries of Interior (Ministerio del Poder Popular del Despacho de la Presidencia y Seguimiento de la Gestión de Gobierno), Defense (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Defensa), Agriculture (Ministerio del Poder Popular de Agricultura Urbana), Education (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Educación), Prison Service (Ministerio del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario), Foreign Trade and Investment (Ministerio de Estado para el Comercio Exterior e Inversión Internacional), Electricity (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Energía Eléctrica), the National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana), the Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Bolivarianas), the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – SEBIN) and PdVSA.
The penetration of so many key institutions, and the fact that they constitute the state’s main organs in the fight against organized crime, means that Venezuela cannot even contain organized crime, let alone effectively fight it. With so many state actors with interests in criminal activity, be it fuel smuggling, the black market sale of food and medicines or the trafficking of cocaine, this factor alone suggests that Venezuela qualifies as a mafia state.