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Messages - captainccs

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The U.S. Army has 315 General Officers. Generals (O-7 to O-10) comprise 0.06% of the Army. There is 1 General for every 1600 Soldiers.

The above is for perspective.

Maduro has promoted hundreds of officers since he became president in 2013 — there are now some 1,300 generals and admirals. High-ranking members of the military control legitimate industries, black markets and the nation’s security, creating a “perverse relationship,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, an Americas analyst at IHS Markit, a London consultant.

The Bloody Grab for Gold in Venezuela’s Most Dangerous Town
With free rein from Maduro, the military cuts a violent swath through the failing state. Dispatches from ground zero, El Callao.

By Andrew Rosati
April 9, 2018, 7:00 AM GMT-4

In Venezuela’s gold capital, national guardsmen block the roads. Military convoys and motorcycles circle while soldiers keep wary watch behind sandbag checkpoints or patrol with faces covered by balaclavas and rifles in hand.

The military has been fighting for months to master El Callao, the dangerous nation’s most dangerous town, and a beachhead in efforts to develop a mineral-rich region the government calls the Arco Minero del Orinoco. President Nicolas Maduro granted the army the handsome prize, a move that helps ensure the unpopular autocrat’s power. But the takeover has been punctuated by blood and bullets as soldiers raid neighborhoods and clandestine mines across 70,000 square miles from Colombia to Guyana, asserting themselves over gang lords and claiming revenue both legal and illicit.

On Feb. 10, the army seized weapons,  burned vehicles and killed 18 civilians — including a woman and a youth — in one of the deadliest clashes since the project’s inception. Many victims were shot in the head and face, according to police photos and death certificates obtained by Bloomberg.

Soldiers “know that they can benefit from the uniform they’re wearing,” said Miguel Linares, 31, a trucker who ran gasoline to mines — and whose 34-year-old brother, Tigue, and close friend Carlos Alfredo Brito were among the dead.

“You have to pay,” he said. “They can put you in jail.”

Maduro faces a May 20 election with support from only about a fifth of the population and he is turning over swathes of the economy to the 160,000-member military, the strongest power in a failing state. Active and retired officers hold 14 of 32 cabinet posts. Soldiers have replaced many of the 80 state oil company leaders whom Maduro has imprisoned since August. The ports have been militarized and the Defense Ministry oversees the hungry nation’s food supply.

The Arco Minero is another lucrative franchise granted by Maduro.

“It’s an incentive for loyalty,” said Rocio San Miguel, president of the Control Ciudadano watchdog group in Caracas. “It’s indicative of where the forces of power lie in Venezuela. Military power is hegemonic and in control of everything.”

Maduro has promoted hundreds of officers since he became president in 2013 — there are now some 1,300 generals and admirals. High-ranking members of the military control legitimate industries, black markets and the nation’s security, creating a “perverse relationship,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, an Americas analyst at IHS Markit, a London consultant.

In El Callao, years of dwindling oil revenue and failed statist policies have the government craving gold deposits it claims total as many as 8,000 tons, which would be the world’s second-largest behind Australia. The Arco Minero produced 8.5 tons in 2017, while Maduro hopes to raise production to 24 tons by year-end, according to mining minister Victor Cano. Venezuela needs it desperately. The nation's gross domestic product is projected to fall about 15 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, a cumulative drop of almost half in five years.

Gold processing ground to a halt amid neglect and mismanagement after late President Hugo Chavez nationalized the industry in 2011, and gangs imposed themselves over illegal miners who descended by the thousands. Official production fell to a single ton in 2016, according to the CPM Group, a commodities researcher. But that year, Maduro granted the armed forces wide-ranging security powers and let them create a company that would provide mining services. He invited 150 companies to exploit diamonds, gold and coltan in the region, but few partners materialized.

Now, shootouts regularly erupt among soldiers and rival gangs. The miners are extorted by all sides, but still they flock to muddy pits and hand-dug shafts to pick and pan.

In a gang-run mine tunnel hundreds of feet below the outskirts of El Callao, Gregorio Aguilar was working a 36-hour shift lugging sacks of rocks and rust-colored soil. Weeks earlier, he had been bagging what few groceries there were in nearby Puerto Ordaz.

“You’re in God’s hands here,” said Aguilar, 28. “What’s the alternative? We came to survive.”

Many don’t. El Callao last year ranked as the country’s most-violent municipality, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, which estimated a homicide rate of 816 per 100,000 residents.

El Callao sits amid mountainous jungle along the Yuruari River, and gold brokers, jewelry and tool shops line its thoroughfares. Paved roads quickly give way to dirt tracks, where makeshift camps and tarp-covered tunnels are around every bend. Businesses cater to miners: Open-air bars stocked with cold beer are within walking distance of the pits, stacks of speakers blare salsa music and prostitutes ply the streets. In a country where cash is scarce, residents carry brick-sized wads of bills to bodegas and markets that offer meats, milk and imported pasta.

At the apex of this isolated economy sits the national guard. The force manages the flow of gasoline for generators and water pumps, and controls commerce. In the almost 120 mile (190 kilometer) drive from Puerto Ordaz to El Callao, there are more than a half-dozen military and police checkpoints.

“They control the territory, they control the legal system — the rules — and they have the guns,” said San Miguel of Control Ciudadano. “It’s an area that functions in a completely feudal sense.”

Low-ranking soldiers shake down individual miners and smugglers, while officers extract tributes from armed groups for the right to do business. Those gangs in turn extort anyone wishing to work.

Then, there’s the official business: The Venezuelan central bank purchases gold in El Callao from select brokers, mill associations and groups of registered miners, dubbed “mining brigades.” State gold processor Minerven melts the ore into bars, which military aircraft take to airbases around Caracas. Soldiers unload the riches into armored vehicles bound for the central bank.

The bank is selling off gold to keep the country afloat, drawing down its reserves of the metal to $6.6 billion from almost $20 billion at the beginning of 2012, according to a report from investment bank Caracas Capital Markets. “Venezuela has been running on fumes for years and hoping the reserve tank would get them to safety,” said Russ Dallen, managing partner of the bank.

When the gold arrives in Caracas, it is presented — sometimes to Maduro himself — in ceremonies broadcast on state television. The president, who has said he plans to launch a bullion-backed cryptocurrency, was shown kissing a bar with his eyes shut. Such ardor belies the brutal struggle in the Arco Minero. Over the past year, local news outlets have reported dozens of killings by state forces in El Callao and surrounding areas.

The Feb. 10 army raid that killed the civilians happened at a mine called Cicapra, about 25 miles from El Callao, according to a military communique seen by Bloomberg.

Carlos Alfredo Brito, 27, had recently begun delivering gasoline to wildcatters along with the Linares brothers. He had been making a pittance hauling vegetables, livestock and furniture but needed money to buy epilepsy medicine for his mother.

“I begged him to just go to Peru just like all the other young people in Venezuela,” said his mother, Petra Rodriguez, a 52-year-old from the small town of Soledad.

Brito’s last trip was a gamble, said Miguel Linares, who negotiated the deal with a gang leader for 20 barrels but returned home before the attack. The group of six would be paid in gold. They traveled in an SUV and two trucks, stopping repeatedly to repair a balky clutch and selling some of the gasoline to buy parts.

Brito’s mother last heard from her son Feb. 8. She had texted Brito to let him know she had managed to find 11 boxes of medicine and hoped God would watch over him.

“Amen, mommy!” Brito responded. “What relief. You have no idea how happy this makes me. I love you.”

The group stayed at the mine after night fell Feb. 9, surrendering their cell phones to the gangsters. The army arrived in the small hours.

After the violence, soldiers recovered assault rifles, pistols and grenades, according to the internal communique, which didn’t explain why the army came to the mine. It said the victims were resisting authority, but the families insist they were slaughtered.

A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman declined to comment on the killings. “They’re not going to make any statement, and there are no statements on the matter,” Kariandre Rincon said.

Cano, the mining minister, said in an interview the armed forces respect human rights, but miners must put themselves on the right side of the law. “If they’re doing criminal activities, they can’t be expected to be treated like saints.”

On Saturday, Feb. 10, Brito’s mother texted him, “God bless you, son! How are you? What are you doing?” No reply. The family heard of his death later that day.

By then, the army had delivered his body to a police station in southern Bolivar state, victims’ relatives said. From there, the remains were taken to an overheated morgue near Puerto Ordaz, where families came to collect them. The naked corpses were stacked head to toe on metal trays, with numbers taped to their chests.

Brito had been shot repeatedly in the chest. His family buried him that Monday in Soledad. The date was written with a finger on his concrete slab.

— With assistance by Fabiola Zerpa, Ben Bartenstein, Danielle Bochove, Luzi-Ann Javier, and Noris Soto

Lots of pictures in the orignal

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: February 19, 2018, 09:40:12 AM »
This is the most accurate narrative of the current Venezuelan situation I have yet read. Many of the topics covered have been circulating for years but have not been covered by the US mainstream media which covers only the superficial "shelves are empty and people are starving" that any idiot can see with his own two eyes. The US mainstream media isn't worth the paper it's printed on and much less the screens it's displayed on.

I want to comment on the Arab presence in Venezuela because if you don't know anything about it the article might give you the wrong impression.

Venezuela has a very large Arab presence that goes back a very long time. I don't have an explanation for it but it is a historical fact. This is a well integrated community in no way related to Islamic extremism. There is a sector in downtown Caracas, El Silencio, where Arabs and Jews (collectively called Turks by the locals) have retail businesses side by side in perfect harmony. Some of the most polite shop keepers in Caracas are Arabs. In the aftermath of the Six Day War there was a comment circulating in Venezuela that captures perfectly the spirt of our melting pot culture. "Had Golda Meir and Gammel Abdel Nasser shared a cup of coffee in El Silencio, there would not have been a Six Day War." That war happened in 1967, more than 30 years before the assent of Chavez. To drive the point home, let me add that a friend of mine had a furniture factory with lots of Arab shops for customers. For a time I helped him out by selling and delivering the furniture which gave me the opportunity to interact with these people and I have the highest regard for them based on that personal experience.

None of the above has changed except that it is the perfect cover for Iran's ambitions in Venezuela. I have not spoken to these people about this subject as I keep my relation with them on a strictly non-political basis. What I do know is that Arab shopkeepers, like all other Venezuelan shopkeepers, are very unhappy with the economic situation.

Denny Schlesinger

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: February 09, 2018, 05:50:00 AM »
When in trouble, make war!  :evil:

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: January 25, 2018, 04:07:39 PM »
I believe one is duty bound to vote in a democracy. Until Chavez took power I had never missed an election. I even voted in the primary of a party I don't belong to (I never have been a party member). I abstained in one election when the opposition advised abstaining which turned out to be a mistake. Last year I didn't vote because elections are openly rigged, candidates are banned, gerrymandering has been raised to an art form giving some people two votes, and to top it all, the opposition is feckless.

A curious incident happend on a corner near where I live. A street vendor was selling home made ice cream. A group of street walkers bought some but failed to pay. Half a block away were stationed some soldiers supposedly to keep order. The ice cream vendor asked them for help. They made fun of him and sided with the street walkers. This happened across the street from a tire shop I have been using for over 25 years and they gave me these details.

There are no police on the streets, they are patrolled by various military groups whose mission is not to protect the people but to protect the government from the ire of the people. On one such military outpost there is a slogan that says "Socialist Justice." Is there more than one kind of justice? It's all sloganeering. The theft of a country. I've been saying since 2012 that the only way to remove these gangsters is by force and it will come to that, sooner or later. Ricardo Husmann's turnabout is a clear sign that this idea is finally taking root.

Denny Schlesinger

Politics & Religion / Ricardo Hausmann calls for military intervention
« on: January 25, 2018, 11:22:26 AM »
Denny is fine, thank you! Just tired of talk, talk, talk and no action. The Venezuelan opposition has been utterly useless. Maduro is NOT in charge, he is a puppet of the military. Chavez named him vice president because he was the safest, tamest, least dangerous lackey he could find. The military are in control, not Maduro. In the attached article Ricardo Hausmann says as much.

In an about face Ricardo Hausmann is calling for military intervention in Venezuela, something I was and still am against in principle. Ricardo Hausmann is no light weight!

Ricardo Hausmann, a former minister of planning of Venezuela and former Chief Economist of the Inter-American Development Bank, is Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University and a professor of economics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

D-Day Venezuela

As conditions in Venezuela worsen, the solutions that must now be considered include what was once inconceivable. A negotiated political transition remains the preferred option, but military intervention by a coalition of regional forces may be the only way to end a man-made famine threatening millions of lives.

CAMBRIDGE – The Venezuelan crisis is moving relentlessly from catastrophic to unimaginable. The level of misery, human suffering, and destruction has reached a point where the international community must rethink how it can help.

Two years ago, I warned of a coming famine in Venezuela, akin to Ukraine’s 1932-1933 Holomodor. On December 17, The New York Times published front-page photographs of this man-made disaster.

In July, I described the unprecedented nature of Venezuela’s economic calamity, documenting the collapse in output, incomes, and living and health standards. Probably the single most telling statistic I cited was that the minimum wage (the wage earned by the median worker) measured in the cheapest available calorie, had declined from 52,854 calories per day in May 2012 to just 7,005 by May 2017 – not enough to feed a family of five.

Since then, conditions have deteriorated dramatically. By last month, the minimum wage had fallen to just 2,740 calories a day. And proteins are in even shorter supply. Meat of any kind is so scarce that the market price of a kilogram is equivalent to more than a week of minimum-wage work.

Health conditions have worsened as well, owing to nutritional deficiencies and the government’s decision not to supply infant formula, standard vaccines against infectious diseases, medicines for AIDS, transplant, cancer, and dialysis patients, and general hospital supplies. Since August 1, the price of a US dollar has added an extra zero, and inflation has exceeded 50% per month since September.

According to OPEC, oil production has declined by 16% since May, down more than 350,000 barrels a day. To arrest the decline, President Nicolás Maduro’s government has had no better idea than to arrest some 60 senior managers of the state-owned oil company PDVSA and appoint a National Guard general with no industry experience to run it.

Rather than taking steps to end the humanitarian crisis, the government is using it to entrench its political control. Rejecting offers of assistance, it is spending its resources on Chinese-made military-grade crowd-control systems to thwart public protests.

Many outside observers believe that as the economy worsens, the government will lose power. But the organized political opposition is weaker now than it was in July, despite massive international diplomatic support. Since then, the government has installed an unconstitutional Constituent Assembly with full powers, deregistered the three main opposition parties, sacked elected mayors and deputies, and stolen three elections.

With all solutions either impractical, deemed infeasible, or unacceptable, most Venezuelans are wishing for some deus ex machina to save them from this tragedy. The best scenario would be free and fair elections to choose a new government. This is Plan A for the Venezuelan opposition organized around the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, and is being sought in talks taking place in the Dominican Republic.

But it defies credulity to think that a regime that is willing to starve millions to remain in power would yield that power in free elections. In Eastern Europe in the 1940s, Stalinist regimes consolidated power despite losing elections. The fact that the Maduro government has stolen three elections in 2017 alone and has blocked the electoral participation of the parties with which it is negotiating, again despite massive international attention, suggests that success is unlikely.

A domestic military coup to restore constitutional rule is less palatable to many democratic politicians, because they fear that the soldiers may not return to their barracks afterwards. More important, Maduro’s regime already is a military dictatorship, with officers in charge of many government agencies. The senior officers of the Armed Forces are corrupt to the core, having been involved for years in smuggling, currency and procurement crimes, narco-trafficking and extra-judicial killings that, in per capita terms are three times more prevalent than in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines. Decent senior officers have been quitting in large numbers.3

Targeted sanctions, managed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), are hurting many of the thugs ruling Venezuela. But, measured in the tens of thousands of avoidable deaths and millions of additional Venezuelan refugees that will occur until the sanctions yield their intended effect, these measures are too slow at best. At worst, they will never work. After all, such sanctions have not led to regime change in Russia, North Korea, or Iran.

This leaves us with an international military intervention, a solution that scares most Latin American governments because of a history of aggressive actions against their sovereign interests, especially in Mexico and Central America. But these may be the wrong historical analogies. After all, Simón Bolívar gained the title of Liberator of Venezuela thanks to an 1814 invasion organized and financed by neighboring Nueva Granada (today’s Colombia). France, Belgium, and the Netherlands could not free themselves of an oppressive regime between 1940 and 1944 without international military action.1

The implication is clear. As the Venezuelan situation becomes unimaginable, the solutions to be considered move closer to the inconceivable. The duly elected National Assembly, where the opposition holds a two-thirds majority, has been unconstitutionally stripped of power by an unconstitutionally appointed Supreme Court. And the military has used its power to suppress protests and force into exile many leaders including the Supreme Court justices elected by the National Assembly in July.

As solutions go, why not consider the following one: the National Assembly could impeach Maduro and the OFAC-sanctioned, narco-trafficking vice president, Tareck El Aissami, who has had more than $500 million in assets seized by the United States government. The Assembly could constitutionally appoint a new government, which in turn could request military assistance from a coalition of the willing, including Latin American, North American, and European countries. This force would free Venezuela, in the same way Canadians, Australians, Brits, and Americans liberated Europe in 1944-1945. Closer to home, it would be akin to the US liberating Panama from the oppression of Manuel Noriega, ushering in democracy and the fastest economic growth in Latin America.2

According to international law, none of this would require approval by the United Nations Security Council (which Russia and China might veto), because the military force would be invited by a legitimate government seeking support to uphold the country’s constitution. The existence of such an option might even boost the prospects of the ongoing negotiations in the Dominican Republic.

An imploding Venezuela is not in most countries’ national interest. And conditions there constitute a crime against humanity that must be stopped on moral grounds. The failure of Operation Market Garden in September 1944, immortalized in the book and film A Bridge Too Far, led to famine in the Netherlands in the winter of 1944-1945. Today’s Venezuelan famine is already worse. How many lives must be shattered before salvation comes?

Ricardo Hausmann

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: September 21, 2017, 04:15:16 PM »

So what did you think of Trump's mention of Venezuela in UN speech?

I think it was a terrific speech specially after the last two jokers the Americans had for president. The Venezuelan mention got one of the three applauses but I fail to see what a foreign country can do when the mischief is inside a country. Iran and North Korea are public menaces but Venezuela is only a menace to itself.

BTW, Venezuela's problem is not socialism, that was tried and it failed several years ago. What we have now is a military dictatorship whose sole aim is to enrich the military and keep it in power. The government is firing workers because it can't afford them but I have never seen so many military types on the streets of Caracas ever before. Some of the supposed "police" wear camouflage and carry long guns, military gear not police gear.

Venezuela is back to the age of the caudillo, the all knowing, all powerful leader, disguised as a democracy.

Politics & Religion / Maduro's finaces continue to unravel
« on: September 20, 2017, 03:08:25 PM »
News via email from Caracas Capital Markets

Venezuela's oil production continued to fall in August.

According to OPEC, Venezuela production fell 31,900 barrels per day (bpd) from July and is now 1.918 million bpd.  That is 52,000 bpd below Venezuela's OPEC quota.  Venezuela's rig count fell to 48 last month -- a low it also touched last year but the lowest rig count since the PDVSA strike of 2002.

India Withdraws Support for Joint Venture

India's state oil company ONGC Videsh has abandoned plans to raise funds for the $1.3 billion Petrolera Indovenezolana SA (PIVSA) joint venture project in Venezuela. ONGC had been seeking to syndicate a $304 million loan to fund PIVSA which it holds 40% of.  Venezuela had even been trying to entice India into buying another 10%.

Russia & Rosneft Riding to Venezuela's Rescue? (Part 1)

As you can see from our above Bill of Ladings data, in early August we began noticing a surge in Venezuela oil exports to the USA that were being paid to Rosneft (TNK is owned by Rosneft and operates out of the exact same Swiss address).  Now there are a whole host of things about this development that bothered the heck out of us.

The second thing that bothered us was that we were essentially paying sanctioned Russians for the sanctioned Venezuelans so that the sanctioned Russians could continue helping the sanctioned Venezuelans, enabling them both to continue subverting U.S. efforts to help clean up the Venezuelan mess.

Venezuela Misses Payment on Venezuela 9.25% of 2027

I am sorry to report that as of this morning, this $185 million interest payment that was due on September 15 has still not been received by bondholders.  Our inquiries to ONCP have received conflicting and confusing answers, but basically the conclusion we have been able to draw is that this $185 million interest payment on $4 billion of the oldest of Venezuela's bonds (issued pre-Chavez and re-tapped by Chavez) has not been paid as of Wednesday, September 20.

Politics & Religion / Canned sardines plan
« on: September 14, 2017, 09:13:00 AM »
This week I made an interesting discovery. Pork for stewing (no bones) is BsF. 40,000.00 per kilo, chicken breast (no bones) is around BsF. 36,000.00 while a can of sardines in vegetable oil, 119 gr. drained weight, is BsF. 2,250.00, that's BsF. 18,907.00 per kilo.

Not only are the sardines healthier, they are half the price of equivalent chicken and less than half the price of equivalent pork. Fresh sardines are among the cheapest fish but they are a pain to clean and cook.

BTW, sardines make a good pasta sauce.

Politics & Religion / Hyperinflation
« on: September 08, 2017, 05:58:03 AM »
This week I got my first billion bolivar check, Bs. 1,850,000,000.00 to be exact. I've come a long way from my first monthly paycheck of Bs. 800.00! Or have I? Let's do the math.

Back then, 1960, the exchange rate was Bs. 3.35 per US dollar.
The Chavistas knocked three zeros off the new bolivar fuerte (BsF).
The exchange rate on Wednesday was 19,490, I got 18,500.

   Bolivares       Rate  US dollar
      800.00       3.35     238.80
1,850,000.00  18.500.00     100.00

The country has run out of cash and the government can't afford to print new bills, they don't have the money or the credit to pay for them! This has forced the banks to limit the cash withdrawals to BsF. 30,000 per day (some banks less), which is all of $1.50 per day. Were it not for credit/debit cards and bank transfers commerce would be paralyzed. I need the cash mostly to buy stuff from street vendors some of whom have yet to get a point of sale device. One third of yesterday's BsF. 30,000 went to pay for a 2 Kg. papaya. Yesterday I made nine debit card purchases, mostly food, for BsF.128,256.00, on average less that a dollar each purchase.

Hyperinflation is just plain crazy! It's hard to imagine the details until you are in the midst of it.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: August 23, 2017, 06:16:44 PM »
The point of my last post is that you don't need to take a political right/left position with respect to the economy. It has its way of doing things and we can bend it a bit (right or left) but bend it too far and we break it.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: August 23, 2017, 05:34:36 PM »
Where did Ami Horowitz pick up the idea that in Venezuela we have income equality? Not true.

Income equality is not an economic issue but a morality/policy issue. Left to its devices wealth distribution follows a power law distribution which is what creates the 80-20 and the 99-1 distribution of wealth. Just as the young people interviewed by Horowitz have no clue about it neither do most investors. The Nobel Prize winning Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model uses the normal distribution when it should be using a power law distribution. These guys were Ph.D.s.

I didn't get it either until quite recently because it is not intuitive, we are familiar with normal distributions but not with power law distribution although much in nature follows power law distribution, earthquakes, for example: many little one and a few large killer ones.

An easy to replicate economic experiment is to watch people play poker. Start the game with the same kitty for each player. Play long enough and there will be one winner and all others will be losers. Try this game:

In the stock market people are convinced that fund managers are clueless since 75% of them underperform the market indexes. They are not clueless, the systemic nature of the stock market is to follow a power law distribution. I wrote an article about it:

February 20, 2011
Why Does the Average Mutual Fund Underperform?

It has often been stated that the average mutual fund underperforms the market but I have never seen an adequate explanation. I used to believe in a simplistic reason: Since mutual funds make up the average, if you deduct their management fees, their results will be that amount below the average. While this holds true, it is not the real reason. For an explanation we have to look at the Pareto Distribution of wealth.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: August 23, 2017, 04:51:56 AM »
#Invalid YouTube Link#

Why invalid link? It worked or me.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: August 21, 2017, 05:37:31 PM »
Posted to Twitter and The Motley Fool.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: August 21, 2017, 11:37:38 AM »
Secondly, please let us know by private message what we can send under what labeling to you.


Thanks but shipments are searched twice, once by the shipper in the USA so they don't get into trouble with the law and by the authorities when it arrives. The stuff would be confiscated. "Legal" stuff I usually order from Amazon.

Thanks for all the help. Public opinion needs to be turned against Maduro after it was turned in favor of Chavez by American fellow travelers

Fellow traveler
One who supports the aims or philosophies of a political group without joining it. A “fellow traveler” is usually one who sympathizes with communist doctrines but is not a member of the Communist party. The term was used disparagingly in the 1950s to describe people accused of being communists.

Politics & Religion / Re: Prohibited Imports
« on: August 20, 2017, 05:34:46 PM »
Well, Doug has published things on a blog with national viewership.

That would be great, thanks!

Politics & Religion / Prohibited Imports
« on: August 20, 2017, 04:56:52 PM »
I need your help. Please report the list below to blogs and the news outlets to let the world know how cruel and absurd the Maduro regime really is:

Prohibited Imports

Now under Maduro we have a new prohibition, importing anything that protects against riot police such as gas masks, bullet proof wests, metal balls and marbles (could be used as projetiles), knives, sports padding gear, helmets, etc.

But it goes even further: Banned first aid stuff:

Antacids, gauze, cream to treat burns, bandages, eye drops, bicarbonate, etc.

I asked a drug importer to bring me milk of magnesia. Sorry, antacid, banned article! I don't have an issue with the riot police, I'm CONSTIPATED. Tough! Eat prunes.

Here is the list from my courier service. It would be wonderful if you made it available to blogs and the American press.

Carriers have to make sure these items are not shipped in, NO EXCEPTIONS.

This is an abuse of human rights!

Denny Schlesinger

BREAKING: US Court Throws Out Venezuela's Diosdado Cabello Lawsuit Against Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK -- A Federal Judge in Manhattan has dismissed a libel lawsuit brought by Venezuela political leader Diosdado Cabello against the Wall Street Journal.

Cabello, a Venezuela political leader and former military leader, is one of the most powerful politicians in Venezuela. He has served as Vice President, President of the country's parliament as well as in a variety of other positions. Cabello participated with Hugo Chavez in the failed coup d'état of February 1992, leading four tanks to attack Miraflores, the Presidential Palace. He was jailed for two years before being released after President Rafael Caldera pardoned him.

"Cabello alleges that Dow Jones published a defamatory article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub," wrote U.S. Federal District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest, dismissing the suit. "For the reasons set forth below, Cabello has failed to adequately plead material falsity as to most challenged statements and actual malice as to all challenged statements."

"Plaintiff has failed to make out a prima facie case of libel and his second amended complaint is therefore DISMISSED. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the motion ... terminate this action," concluded Forrest.

The Wall Street Journal "caused, and continues to cause, enormous damage to Mr. Cabello's reputation and good name, both personally and in his capacity as a key member of Venezuela's National Assembly," the suit filed in May 2016 alleged, adding that Cabello suffered "substantial economic damages" as a result of the article's publication.

The story was part of an attack by "North American imperialism" against Venezuela, Cabello claimed.

Cabello's lawsuit claimed that he was a "devout husband and father of four," a "distinguished Venezuelan politician," and "high-ranking member of the military."

Earlier this week, after journalists began noticing increased security personnel around U.S. Senator Marco Rubio over the last month, The Miami Herald reported that law enforcement had intelligence indicating that Cabello had allegedly initiated an assassination plot against Rubio.

Armed Venezuelan soldiers caught in Guyana begging for food
AUGUST 15, 2017 3:31 PM

A handful of Venezuelan soldiers — armed and in uniform — were caught in neighboring Guyana last week begging for food, local police reported, another sign of Venezuela’s deepening hunger crisis.

Guyanese Police Inspector Christopher Humphrey said he’d gone to the border along the Amacuro river, which divides the two nations, to investigate reports that the Venezuelan military was stealing food from locals. But the three soldiers he encountered — two carrying military assault rifles — said they had come to beg for meals and hadn’t harmed anyone.

Humphrey said the men had crossed into Guyana on a wooden raft and seemed genuinely hungry.

“They were desperate,” he told the Miami Herald. “They were here for some time and they showed me a can of sardines and the place where they had cooked it over a fire.”

Hunger is on the rise in Venezuela, amid triple-digit inflation and the government’s inability to import basic goods. And neighboring Colombia, Brazil and Guyana have seen a spike in Venezuelans looking for food.

Venezuela’s armed forces — which are key to propping up the Nicolás Maduro administration — have always been perceived to have easier access to basic goods. Lately, though, there have been growing but uncorroborated reports of soldiers going hungry, particularly at far-flung border outposts.

Venezuela’s military is under intense scrutiny for signs that its support for Maduro might be eroding. In July, a rogue police inspector lobbed grenades onto the Supreme Court from a helicopter, which did not result in injuries.

And on Aug. 6, former National Guard Capt. Juan Caguaripano announced he was launching a military revolt named “Operation David” to “rescue the country from total destruction.” A week later, authorities said they had detained him and other “ringleaders.”

That soldiers would cross into Guyana is telling. The two nations have been locked in a centuries-old border dispute over a swath of Guyanese territory known as the Esequibo and are not on good terms. In 2015, as tensions escalated, Venezuela sent troops and antiaircraft missiles to the border.

Humphrey said he thinks the men learned that they can’t count on crossing the border for food.

“But that doesn’t mean some other set [of soldiers] won’t come back,” he said.


Read more here:

Politics & Religion / Venezuela’s PDVSA Profit Disappears
« on: August 13, 2017, 09:51:25 PM »
Venezuela’s PDVSA Profit Disappears as Oil Output Drops Amidst Chaos

Six weeks past the deadline and late on a Friday night, Venezuela's state oil company releases devastatingly bad financial results

By Vanessa Dezem in Sao Paulo
& Michelle F. Davis in Mexico City

Profit at state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA plummeted almost 90 percent last year amid declining output and a drop in oil prices, a new blow for a country rocked by political and economic chaos.

Net income declined 88.7 percent to $828 million in 2016 as production fell 10 percent to 2.57 million barrels per day, according to PDVSA’s annual financial statement published on its website. Average oil prices in Venezuela declined to $35.15 per barrel from about $45 per barrel in 2015.

Venezuela and PDVSA are under intense scrutiny from investors as U.S. sanctions against key government officials and a power grab by President Nicolas Maduro threaten to disrupt financial flows. Prices for government and PDVSA bonds have tumbled in recent weeks amid concerns that Maduro’s actions will trigger more severe measures against the oil-producing nation that may choke off its ability to repay debt.

The profit slump was "quite a dramatic fall," said Russ Dallen, managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets. “PDVSA was the golden goose of Venezuela and what these financials tell us is that these guys are killing it."

Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s $1.1 billion of dollar-denominated bonds that mature in November of this year fell 1.1 percent to 86.8 cents on the dollar Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Press representatives for PDVSA didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and email seeking comment outside of normal business hours.

Oil Prices

PDVSA was obligated under rules for its bonds due in 2020 to provide audited financial reports for last year by the end of June, but asked bond investors for a temporary waiver from the requirements until Aug. 11.

PDVSA’s exports slumped 9.7 percent to 2.2 million barrels per day. Maduro’s regime has set a $3.2 billion plan to boost output by 250,000 barrels a day within 30 months.

Faced with persistently low oil prices, Venezuela -- which has the world’s largest reserves and depends on crude sales for 95 percent of its export revenue -- has been plagued with shortages of everything from toilet paper to antibiotics and food. With the government running out of money to pay for imports and interest payments on foreign debt, it has turned, in part, to asset sales to raise whatever cash it can.

The nation is also dealing with increasing tensions with the U.S, which has imposed a series of sanctions on people associated with Maduro, freezing their assets in the U.S. and blocking anyone in the U.S. from doing business with them. On Friday, Trump said he’s considering a military option in response to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

The latest numbers give bondholders more clarity on the gravity of the state oil company’s financial situation. PDVSA has $3.2 billion in bond principal and interest payments due for the rest of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

PDVSA may struggle to cover that, Dallen said. “They’re going to have to either borrow more money from the Russians or the Chinese or sell assets." Bloomberg

Politics & Religion / lots of oil
« on: August 13, 2017, 09:46:15 PM »
About the "faja petrolifera del orinoco," the Washington Times quote is not very accurate:

Unlike light and sweet crude from Saudi Arabia, oil from Orinoco is tarlike. It is laced with metals and sits beneath deep jungles. Getting to the oil field means building roads, electrical-power grids and other major infrastructure. Once the oil is extracted from the ground, it is technically difficult to process.

It's not "deep jungles" but "tropical grassland plain."

Conventional oil has been produced for over 50 years north of the Orinoco belt between the towns of Anaco and El Tigre and shipped north to Puerto La Cruz by pipeline for processing and export. The additional challenges of the Orinoco belt are extraction and processing, not access.

Los Llanos in Venezuela

Los Llanos (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈʎanos], locally [ˈʝanos], "The Plains") is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the flooded grasslands and savannas biome.

The Llanos' main river is the Orinoco, which forms part of the border between Colombia and Venezuela and is the major river system of Venezuela.[1]

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: August 02, 2017, 11:07:06 AM »
If Venezuela Were Stable
Aug 2, 2017

By Allison Fedirka

Sorry, Crafty_Dog, Allison Fedirka is lame and should get her head out of her geopolitical hole.

Try this for size:

Why was Venezuela the most prosperous and stable country of Latin America during the 50s, 60s, and 70s?
5 Answers
Juan Pérez, Forty happy years in Venezuela - then 10 more around the world
Answered Aug 21, 2016
I’m glad you’ve asked this question!

For people under 40’s or whom never heard or read about Venezuela in the 50’s, 60’s or 70´s (or simply have just forgotten) it might difficult to imagine that Venezuela was on those years the BEST country to live in all South America - and even better than many European countries. You can see for example a spectacular photo reportage by American photographer Cornell Cappa from LIFE magazine in 1953 in Caracas - then known as “the capital of the opportunities in South America”: FOTOS | Así de hermosa era la Caracas de 1953 según LIFE.

More, MUCH MORE, at

I arrived in Venezuela in 1946 and I'm an eyewitness to much of this story. I even had a part to play in the nationalization of the Orinoco deepwater channel which was operated by US Steel. The story about Arturo Uslar Pietry is incomplete. Here is the rest of it:

August 6, 2006
Uslar Pietri, Venezuelan Democracy's Undertaker

Arturo Uslar Pietri was considered one of the leading Venezuelan intellectuals of the 20th century. He certainly was entertaining and educational on TV where he addressed his "invisible friends." He was also a failed politician who ran for president and lost badly. Carlos Andrés Perez (CAP) was of the opinion that, having failed to reach power via elections, Uslar Pietri was trying to reach a position of power through machination.

More at,%20venezuelan%20d.html

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: July 22, 2017, 06:59:11 PM »
The tangible real world effects of marijuana legalization seen firsthand aren't exactly as benign as promised.

Neither is smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. That's not the point. The point is that the war on drugs is pointless. As pointless as Prohibition was but some people just never learn. Anyone who expects humanity to be a bunch of saints is plain crazy. The best we can expect is to keep these things moderately under control.

The current state of the war on drugs is that it is not working because addicts still can buy the stuff, distribution is out of control, jails are full, and the bad guys are making a killing. What's to like? The war on drugs is an UTTER FAILURE. Typical political solution, if it does not work do more of it until it does. Like body count in Vietnam.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: July 22, 2017, 02:35:45 PM »
So, what should the US do?

Legalizing and regulating drugs (like alcohol and tobacco) would be a good start. It would bankrupt the Venezulean military, the word's leading drug cartel.

Prohibition didn't work and neither does the war on drugs. It just makes bad people rich.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: July 22, 2017, 02:19:39 PM »
The measures under discussion are similar to those imposed against Tehran

which did NOT topple the Teheran government, they just made people suffer more.

Politics & Religion / Re: Leopoldo Lopez to House Arrest
« on: July 08, 2017, 05:17:51 AM »
A different version at the same link....

Venezuela Releases Political Prisoner Leopoldo Lopez to House Arrest after 3.4 Years

CARACAS -- Venezuela has released political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez to house arrest according to the nation's Supreme Court and Spain's President Rajoy.

The Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López has left the prison of Ramo Verde.

López, who has been detained since February 2014, was released Saturday morning and has been placed under house arrest.

Venezuela's Supreme Court said that he was released for health reasons.

The new measure - house arrest - coincides with three months of intense protests against the regime of Nicolás Maduro in which 89 people have died.

López, leader of the Popular Will (VP) party and exalcalde [former mayor] of the municipality of Caracas Chacao, arrived at his house at 4:00 am local time. His release has come as a surprise, even for his family. On several occasions he had expressed, through his wife, Lilian Tintori, that the condition to leave the prison was the departure of all political prisoners. López was sentenced in 2015 to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in jail, to be served at Ramo Verde military prison. Judge Susana Barreiros found him guilty of participating and instigating the 2014 demonstrations, which killed 43 people and injured hundreds.

Politics & Religion / Leopoldo Lopez released to House Arrest
« on: July 08, 2017, 05:11:18 AM »
This is a surprise move. I wonder what's behind it. Putting a kinder, gentler face on the tyrant?

Venezuela Releases Political Prisoner Leopoldo Lopez to House Arrest after 3.4 Years

CARACAS -- Venezuela has released political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez to house arrest according to the nation's Supreme Court and Spain's President Rajoy.

The Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López has left the prison of Ramo Verde . López, who has been detained since February 2014, has been placed under house arrest and has been at home since Saturday morning, as confirmed by Spanish Javier Cremades, one of his lawyers. The Venezuelan opponent has returned to his home without accepting any conditions for his return, reports Cremades. The new measure - which in Venezuela is known as "house by prison" - coincides with three months of intense protests against the regime of Nicolás Maduro in which 89 people have died.
López, leader of the Popular Will (VP) party and exalcalde of the municipality of Caracas Chacao, arrived at his house at 4:00 am local time. His release has come as a surprise, even for his family. On several occasions he had expressed, through his wife, Lilian Tintori, that the condition to leave the prison was the departure of all political prisoners. López was sentenced in 2015 to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in jail, to be served at Ramo Verde military prison. Judge Susana Barreiros found him guilty of participating and instigating the 2014 demonstrations, which killed 43 people and injured hundreds.

Politics & Religion / Maduro storm troopers attack congress
« on: July 06, 2017, 04:48:45 PM »
The link to this article (at the bottom) has a video of the violence.

Maduro Supporters Storm Venezuela's Congress and Attack Opposition Lawmakers

Joshua Goodman / AP

Jul 05, 2017

(CARACAS) — Pro-government militias wielding wooden sticks and metal bars stormed congress on Wednesday, attacking opposition lawmakers during a special session coinciding with Venezuela's independence day.

Four lawmakers were injured and blood was splattered on the neoclassical legislature's white walls. One of them, Americo de Grazia, had to be removed in a stretcher while suffering from convulsions.

"This doesn't hurt as much as watching how every day how we lose a little bit more of our country," Armando Arias said from inside an ambulance as he was being treated for head wounds that spilled blood across his clothes.

The unprecedented attack, in plain view of national guardsmen assigned to protect the legislature, comes amid three months of often-violent confrontations between security forces and protesters who accuse the government of trying to establish a dictatorship by jailing foes, pushing aside the opposition-controlled legislature and rewriting the constitution to avoid fair elections.

Tensions were already high after Vice President Tareck El Aissami made an unannounced morning visit to the National Assembly, accompanied by top government and military officials, for an event celebrating independence day. The short appearance at the congress by top officials who have repeatedly dismissed the legislators as a band of U.S.-backed conspirators was seen by many as a provocation.

Standing next to a display case holding the founding charter, El Aissami said global powers are once again trying to subjugate Venezuela.

"We still haven't finished definitively breaking the chains of the empire," he said, adding that President Nicolas Maduro's plans to rewrite the constitution — a move the opposition sees as a power-grab — offers Venezuela the best chance to be truly independent.

After he left, dozens of government supporters set up a picket outside the building, heckling lawmakers with menacing chants and eventually invading the legislature themselves. The siege only lifted after seven nerve-wracking hours when police set up a corridor to allow the hundreds of people trapped inside the legislature, including lawmakers and journalists, to leave.

The brazen attack on one of the symbols of Venezuela's already limping democracy drew widespread international rebuke.

"This violence, perpetrated during the celebration of Venezuela's independence, is an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela's independence 206 years ago today," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Despite the violence, lawmakers approved a plan by the opposition to hold a symbolic referendum on July 16 that would give voters the chance to reject Maduro's plans to draft a new political charter.

Later Maduro condemned the violence, but complained that the opposition doesn't do enough to control "terrorist attacks" committed against security forces by anti-government protesters.

"I will never be an accomplice to acts of violence," said Maduro during a speech at a military parade.

The clash followed Tuesday's appearance of two short videos by a former police inspector who allegedly stole a helicopter and fired on two government buildings last week.

Oscar Perez, repeating a call for rebellion among the security forces, said that he was in Caracas after abandoning the helicopter along the Caribbean coast and was ready for the "second phase" of his campaign to free his homeland from what he called the corrupt rule of Maduro and his "assassin" allies.

Perez gave no other details but pledged to join youth who have been protesting on the streets the past three months against Maduro.

"Stop talking. Get on the streets. Take action. Fight," he said in the video, sitting before a Venezuelan flag and with what looks like an assault rifle by his side. He also denounced Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution.

"If this constitutional assembly goes through, Venezuela will cease to exist because we'll have given away the country to the Cubans," he said.

Hours later, another video appeared in which he urged Venezuelans to march on a Caracas military base, not the presidential palace, to locate and remove Maduro along with the ruling elite.

The bold though largely harmless June 27 attack shocked Venezuelans who had grown accustomed to almost-daily clashes since April between often-violent youth protesters and security forces that have left more than 90 people dead and hundreds injured.

Perez apparently piloted the stolen police helicopter that sprayed 15 bullets toward the Interior Ministry and dropped at least two grenades over the supreme court building.

While Maduro claimed Perez had stolen the helicopter on a U.S.-backed mission to oust him from power, many in the opposition questioned whether the incident was a staged by the government to distract attention from the president's increasingly authoritarian rule.

Adding to the intrigue is Perez's colorful past.

In 2015, he produced and starred in a film called "Suspended Death," and several photos show him in fatigues, scuba diving while toting an assault rifle, skydiving and standing in action poses with a German shepherd by his side. In his political debut, he read a manifesto in which he claimed to be part of a group of disgruntled members of Venezuela's security forces determined to save the country's democracy.Perez said in the video that the strike produced no casualties because he had taken care to avoid them. Neither of the buildings he attacked suffered damage. The helicopter he stole was found 24 hours later, abandoned in a verdant valley near the Caribbean coastline outside Caracas.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: July 06, 2017, 04:45:12 PM »

May I ask you to keep this thread current as well?

Thank you,

PS:  How are YOU doing in the midst of all this?

The other board is in Spanish and it's hard to find Spanish language news because there is a lot of local censorship.

I'm doing just fine. Having hard currency makes it easy to keep up with inflation and having lived most of my life in Caracas I know my city well and I know where to go and where not to go. My dad bought a house near where I live back in 1948, almost 70 years ago. I live in a middle class development that is of little interest to politicians and thieves so it's kind of quiet but quite close to the action. The political activity is fairy well localized to certain streets and buildings but it could erupt into more general mayhem. It will have to happen sooner or later because these guys are not going to go quietly.

Politics & Religion / Re: captainccs -question
« on: July 06, 2017, 05:06:39 AM »
what do you think is the end game here?

any way to predict?

Sadly, the safe bet is for the status quo to continue. I hope I'm wrong. Next to a true civilian uprising, which I see as unlikely, the other factor that could topple the government is national bankruptcy which is likely with oil under $50 a barrel. A more remote possibility is an uprising of "young turks" in the military.

March 31, 2017
Democracy by Consent of the Military

For a democracy to work all parties have to accept the rules of the game. A most telling example is that the British call (or called?) the opposition "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition." The elephant in the china shop is the military, a good reason for the secretary of defense and the commander in chief to be civilians. arepaArepa, the Venezuelan cornmeal breadIn Venezuela both rules are broken. Some sixty years ago the then leader of the majority party asked his followers who their most dangerous enemy was. He got a chorus of standard replies "The Yankees, the capitalists.!" "Wrong! Our biggest danger comes from the military" was his reply. From that meeting sprang up the policy known as "el bozal de arepa" (the bread muzzle). Politicians would allow the military to buy as many toys as needed to keep them happy and in their forts. In Venezuela the secretary of defense has always been a general and this separations of powers broke down completely when Chavez, a military commander, won the presidency. Venezuela has been a de-facto military dictatorship since 1998.

Why am I making the above emphasis? Because the President of the National Assembly last night practically begged the military to side with the opposition. The fly in the ointment is that the "bozal de arepa" has been made so extensive that the military now controls the most lucrative activities in Venezuela from drug trafficking to food imports. When Maduro needed a "Tzar" to turn around the economy he didn't call on our most successful businessman (the CEO of the company that makes the Harina P.A.N. shown in the illustration) but on a general.

The dismantling of democracy started as early as 1998 when civilian gun permits were revoked in the name of public safety but with the real purpose of eliminating armed resistance by the people. A second and even more powerful blow was the packing of the Supreme Court with Chavez acolytes. The method was simple, they doubled the number of magistrates and appointed friends to the new posts. Now there was a new balance of power, a seemingly democratic one but dictatorial in practice.

This week's self-coup d'état was orchestrated with the help of the illegally packed supreme court and it will be enforced by the military. The mood in the streets is mostly how to survive another day. People have lost faith in both government and opposition.

Denny Schlesinger

Politics & Religion / Constitutional Assembly
« on: July 06, 2017, 04:32:47 AM »
A constitutional assembly is the latest ploy by Maduro to perpetuate himself and his military backers in power. The linked PDF by Caracas Capital Markets is the best analysis I've seen showing how Maduro is trying to thwart the will of the people. I have no ties to Caracas Capital Markets beyond the fact that Russ Dallen was my stock broker some 15 years ago.

Please give this document the widest circulation. It shows how a dictatorship can masquerade as a democratic regime by keeping up the appearance but thwarting the intent of democratic institutions.

Maduro’s “Hydrogen Bomb”

In the simplest Dantesque terms, Venezuela is entering a new circle of hell. For anyone concerned about Venezuela, what is now going on in Caracas represents the most important paradigm shift in the country since Chavez and sets in motion a coming inflection point and clash that is destined to become much more violent. While we have made allusions to Dante in these reports over the last year, Venezuela is now moving toward a new inflection point and into a new level of hell more closely associated with the late 18th century of Robespierre’s France rather than the 14th century of Dante’s Italy.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: May 18, 2017, 04:23:53 PM »
The "Poopootov" is a terrific non-lethal highly demoralizing weapon. Imagine the poor officer having to wait for hours to clean up. And tomorrow expect more "Poopootov!" Do you really want to go to work?

It's a war of attrition and we are not running low on "Poopootov" ammunition.  :evil:

All countries and economies have some socialism in them,

Voluntary cooperation is very useful in a well functioning society but that's not socialism. It's more in line with the original form of anarchism which was overthrown by people who though that strong leadership was required to implant socialism. Marx highjacked anarchism -- a very interesting bit of history that is mostly forgotten.

Voluntary cooperation is also aligned with altruism.

The problem with socialism is that a small group of self anointed elites tries to tell -- nay, force -- the rest of us to do as they say.

Politics & Religion / Re: How Venezuela ruined its oil industry
« on: May 09, 2017, 08:02:04 AM »
I have been told that marxism is scientific.

Scientific or not it is not self sustaining. Funny thing, Marx said that capitalism wasn't self sustaining.  :roll:

Politics & Religion / Re: How Venezuela ruined its oil industry
« on: May 09, 2017, 07:49:41 AM »
Wait, you are suggesting that socialism might not work as advertised?

The problem with altruism is that it is not self supporting.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela news live
« on: May 01, 2017, 10:37:57 AM »
I hope they don't know where you live.

No need to be paranoid!  :-D

Some rich places are dangerous but I live in a middle class area. Thanks!

Politics & Religion / Venezuela news live
« on: May 01, 2017, 08:02:59 AM »
A group of government supporters just went by my house (11 AM local time) and they were greeted by pot-banging. There were not enough of them to fill a city block!

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: April 30, 2017, 08:32:24 AM »
Earth has at least two poles so why not two Polars?

Founded 1941

Wikipedia - Empresas Polar

Polar website

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: April 30, 2017, 05:48:12 AM »
Polar started out making beer but has since diversified into all sorts of foods one of the most popular being Harina  P.A.N., precooked corn meal for making arepas. They now export the stuff made in Colombia. Lorenzo Mendoza, the current head of Polar is probably the most successful Venezuelan businessman but no friend of the government. I doubt he would lead a revolt but he would probably accept an economic post in a new government.

Politics & Religion / May Day Alert
« on: April 29, 2017, 05:06:09 PM »
Monday is May Day, International Labor Day, typically a day for parades by workers and speeches by labor unions and politicians. My cousin showed me a video taken today by friends of hers of a dozen or so 18 wheelers hauling field hospitals marked "Humanitarian Aid" on the freeway through Caracas.

Are they expecting something or is this psychological warfare?

My cousin used to work for Polar. Her retirement plan includes a monthly basket of food products made by Polar. She got a call warning her that the basket will be delayed this month because the Bolivarian Circles (Chavez brown shirt thugs) vandalized their warehouse trashing what they could not haul away.

I've been saying for over a decade that we won't be rid of these vandals until there is blood in the streets. It could happen any time, the pressure is getting to be unbearable.

Politics & Religion / Why is this country starving?
« on: April 22, 2017, 08:13:08 PM »
Why is this country starving?

Because minerals underground are not wealth.   :-(

Politics & Religion / Maduro backs down!
« on: April 02, 2017, 06:45:21 PM »
Back from the brink? Venezuela reverses its congressional ‘coup’ but tensions remain



Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Saturday reversed a controversial decision that had stripped congress of all its powers, sparked fears of a coup and brought an anvil of international pressure down on the beleaguered socialist administration.

President Nicolás Maduro praised the court’s decision and said the “controversy had been overcome,” but the whiplash changes left many in the region uneasy — particularly since the theoretically independent court seemed to be following the president’s orders.

During an emergency meeting of the Mercosur bloc of countries Saturday, the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay issued a statement asking Venezuela to follow its own constitution and guarantee “the effective separation of powers.”

Opposition governor and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles went further, saying the court couldn’t undo the damage by issuing “clarifications.”

“You can’t resolve this coup with a ‘clarification’,” he wrote on Twitter. “Nothing is resolved.”

The firestorm began Wednesday, when the Supreme Court — stacked with ruling-party figures — declared that it was assuming all legislative functions under the premise that the opposition-controlled congress was illegitimate for being in contempt of previous court decisions.

The move raised alarms around the region as it drew comparisons to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s 1992 decision to dissolve that nation’s congress. The Organization of American States has scheduled an emergency meeting Monday, several Latin American countries recalled their ambassadors and the opposition took to the streets.

The decision even opened divisions within Maduro’s usually lock-step administration, with cabinet members and high officials saying the move was a violation of the constitution.

The backlash prompted Maduro in a late-night speech to ask the courts to review their decision in order to “maintain constitutional stability.”

On Saturday, the Supreme Court complied, publishing two “clarifications” of its rulings.

Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno in a press conference Saturday reaffirmed that the court would not strip the National Assembly of its functions or deny legislators their parliamentary immunity.

However, the courts still don’t recognize the legitimacy of congress, and the administration is likely to keep ignoring lawmakers as its done since the opposition took control of the body in 2016. 

Wednesday’s contentious decision that sparked the troubles was embedded in a narrower ruling that allows the executive to sign joint-venture petroleum contracts without congressional approval.

By all accounts, the cash-strapped government needs foreign financing to make interest payments and stay afloat, and congress had threatened to block new debt. According to local media, that part of the ruling was maintained. (The Supreme Court’s website where the decisions were initially published, was offline Saturday.)

Opposition leaders celebrated their victory, transforming their planned morning protest into an outdoor political rally welcoming the move. Hundreds of people joined them at their gathering in a wealthy area of eastern Caracas.

Several high-profile opposition lawmakers cut international trips short to participate in the impromptu celebration.

But the tensions are unlikely to subside any time soon. Lawmakers have threatened to retaliate by encouraging street protests and demanding the impeachment of judges who participated in the ruling.

Late Friday, Maduro suggested the entire mess was part of a larger plot, saying the country was the victim of a “political, media and diplomatic lynching.”

“Dark forces,” he said, “want to get their hands on our Fatherland.”


Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: March 31, 2017, 05:43:14 AM »
Crafty Dog, I'm fine, thanks for asking! Yesterday I went for a medical checkup (doing OK) and only found out about our new troubles in the evening when I heard a very loud "cacerolazo" (people banging on pots and pans to signal their opposition to the government).

The NYT article you linked is correct as far as it goes. I haven't had a TV set in 25 years and my last radio broke down some four or five years ago. My source of information is the WWW but Venezuelan news are censored and muzzled so it takes some doing to find out what is really happening. I chanced upon the live broadcast of the President of the National Assembly explaining the issues from the opposition side's point of view. The truth is that everyone pussyfoots around the core of political reality in Venezuela,

A democracy by the consent of the military.

For a democracy to work all parties have to be willing to accept the rules of the game. A most telling example is that the British call (or called?) the opposition "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition." The elephant in the china shop is the military, a good reason for the secretary of defense and the commander in chief to be civilians. In Venezuela both rules are broken. Some sixty years ago the then leader of the majority party asked his followers who their most dangerous enemy was. He got a chorus of standard replies: the Yankees, the capitalists, etc. "Wrong! Our biggest danger comes from the military" was his reply. From that meeting sprang up the policy known as "el bozal de arepa" (the bread muzzle). Politicians would allow the military to buy as many toys as needed to keep them happy and in their forts. In Venezuela the secretary of defense has always been a general and this separations of powers broke down completely when Chavez, a military commander, won the presidency. Venezuela has been a de-facto military dictatorship since 1998.

Why am I making the above emphasis? Because the President of the National Assembly last night practically begged the military to side with the opposition. The fly in the ointment is that the "el bozal de arepa" has been made so extensive that the military now controls the most lucrative activities in Venezuela from drug trafficking to food imports. When Maduro needed a "Tzar" to turn around the economy he didn't call on our most successful businessman but on a general.

The dismantling of the democracy started as early as 1998 when civilian gun permits were revoked in the name of public safety but with the real purpose of eliminating armed resistance by the people. A second and even more powerful blow was the packing of the Supreme Court with Chavez acolytes. The method was simple, they doubled the number of magistrates and appointed friends to the new posts. Now there was a new balance of power, a seemingly democratic one but dictatorial in practice.

This latest coup d'état was orchestrated with the help of the illegally packed supreme court and it will be enforced by the military. The mood in the streets is mostly how to survive another day. People have lost faith in both government and opposition.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: February 19, 2017, 08:29:59 AM »
Is it any wonder that the people who hate Trump love Obama and Clinton?

Last night I watched Trump's press conference. It was the first time I saw a POTUS taking on the press no holds barred. Trump is a breath of fresh air in Washington.

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: November 03, 2016, 07:45:22 AM »
Also, it's good to have a firsthand account of what is happeneing in Venezuela captianccs, thank you. It interests me a great deal, because here too, there have been things that have been going on, and Mexico is socialist in nature, and I'm not certain that we're not all that far behind you, especially with the American elections looming, the importance of the American economy here in Mexico... strange days indeed.

Show me a country in America (pole to pole) that's not socialist/populist to some point or other. It's just that some are more to the left than others but all recur to markets to save them when they have screwed the economy sufficiently.  :lol:

I am curious though, are people as a whole, accustomed to violence in Venezuela, as far as having become desensitized to it, as with here?

What I know about Mexican violence is what I read in the news and good news is not news. From what I have read it seems to me that Mexican violence is mostly drug cartel wars and who the hell cares if they kill each other? Venezuelan news are highly censored, it's a crime to speak badly about the Glorious Revolution (shades of the former Soviet Union?). Based on what I observe, it seems to me that Venezuelan violence is more petty crime related although there is a lot of it.

BTW, when I read American news on Yahoo it seems that all white cops do is kill blacks and all men do is grope and rape women.

I make it a practice to walk the streets of Caracas, of "MY PART" of Caracas and to ride the subway. During the years I have been doing it I have not had any major incident. My cousin keeps telling me how dangerous it is. I learned a long time ago that this is not a city where you want to be ostentatious. And the people I meet during my walks are mostly rather pleasant. I don't think this headline would be of interest:

Old Man Walks the Streets of Caracas and No Harm Comes to Him.

Denny Schlesinger

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: November 01, 2016, 04:44:59 AM »
Stratfor is talking bullshit!

Should the Supreme Court uphold the state courts' decisions,

It's a given that the rubber stamp court will do the government's bidding. It's a given that talks with the government only help the government, remember Jimmy Carter talking with Chavez after the election he came to observe? It's been 18 years that the so called opposition leaders have been totally useless. Forget about a political change in government, the buggers are going to die of old age like the Castro brothers and most other dictators.

Chamberlain talked, Nero fiddled, and neither solved the problems. We have 18 years of experience in the opposition's impotence.

BTW, did Stratfor mention the the pope is a Peronista or at last a sympathizer? Hitler also made a pact with the Vatican....

People might be sick and tired of the government but the people are not willing to rise up to gain their independence. Just last week I had a talk with a mother who said exactly the same thing that a mother said to me in 2004, "I don't want my children killed." Ask Crafty Dog why he took up martial arts. It was the need to use force in dire circumstances!

PDVSA just paid their bonds. The government knows who needs to be appeased and it's not the people. On the other hand, the formal economy disrupted by the Chavistas is being replaced by an informal one. Branded coffee is nowhere to be seen but homemade coffee is to be had in many places. Branded household products like detergents are not to be seen but a store near my home sells all manner of them, just bring your own container. During the Weimar Republic my family was selling wine wholesale in Berlin, just bring your own bottle. What else is new?

The government is letting the economy work well enough that the people are not ready to take up arms. And soldiers on the streets are dressed in very clean, shiny and brand new uniforms -- just in case. Make no mistake, this is a military dictatorship and, at least in my view, Maduro and his gang are just puppets.

Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America
« on: October 04, 2016, 08:57:20 AM »
In country after country people don't trust the establishment, that's why you have Trump and Brexit and a rejection of a bad deal with FARC. Expect some upsets in the upcoming EU polls.

Politics is too important to leave to politicians.

Denny Schlesinger

The story of Chile’s success starts in the mid-1970s, when Chile’s military government abandoned socialism and started to implement economic reforms. In 2013, Chile was the world’s 10th freest economy. Venezuela, in the meantime, declined from being the world’s 10th freest economy in 1975 to being the world’s least free economy in 2013 (Human Progress does not have data for the notoriously unfree North Korea).

Last week I watched Thom Hartmann talk about "The Crash of 2016." In the Q&A he was asked about libertarians. As part of his response he cited the deaths caused by the Chicago Boys! He is either completely ignorant about Chile, which I doubt, or a great liar. Chile was one of the few great economic successes in LatAm in the last half century. Listen to his distortions at 56:05 (last question)


In his own hand Thom Hartmann documents how bad he is at predicting things. Less that 120 days left for the 

The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It
Hardcover – November 12, 2013
by Thom Hartmann  (Author)

Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela
« on: September 04, 2016, 12:30:59 PM »
Sorry, I can't read that much crap in one sitting. But I do have an observation, I like the flag the article is flying, it's our true flag with seven white stars representing the seven provinces that made up Venezuela during our war of independence. Not that piece of crap that Chavez created adding an extra star supposedly for Cuba and making the horse on the national seal look forward instead of back.

Well, the guy is dead and soon his crap revolution will be dead too.

BTW, it's long been the view south of the border that the Monroe Doctrine was not "America for the Americans" but all of America, from pole to pole, for the United States Americans. When the Argentineans invaded the Falkland Islands, Reagan didn't protect the Americans of Argentina but helped the British from across the sea. Realpolitik is here to stay. Empire is empire. Not recognizing that reality is naive. But, as I told my friends in the 1960s, we have to chose between SOBs and I'd rather deal with the Americans than with the Russians. The Cubans chose Russia and they got half a century of penury. As soon as Chavez took us down that road Venezuela collapsed. It has nothing to do with imperialism and everything to do with markets. Remember what happened when Richard Nixon regulated gasoline in response to the Arab oil embargo? Long lines and plenty of violence.

Empires protect their backyards.

Politics & Religion / Toma de Caracas
« on: September 02, 2016, 09:34:12 AM »
A lot of people took to the streets but Maduro is still firmly in power. How to get rid of him?

PHOTOS: Venezuelans Take To The Streets In Protest Against The Government

Politics & Religion / Toma de Caracas
« on: September 01, 2016, 03:34:14 PM »
The oppo read a speech.

Everyone went home.

It's raining cats and dogs.

So ends another day in Revolutionary Venezuela.


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