All of which is exactly what one would expect from what dead dictator Hugo Chávez named 21st Century Socialism.
Read my post,
Venezuela’s man-made disaster rolls along
Linked to by The Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!
Inflation in Venezuela is starting to rival some of history’s most notorious economic debacles; hyperinflation has an annualised rate of 12,875%, prices are doubling every 52 days and the worst part: it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soonhttps://t.co/WBKDmA5FYI
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) February 6, 2018
The central bank said the first auction of its new DICOM system yielded an exchange rate of 30,987.5 bolivars per euro, equivalent to around 25,000 per dollar.
That is a devaluation of 86.6 percent with respect to the previous DICOM rate and 99.6 percent from the subsidized rate of 10 bolivars per dollar, which was eliminated last week. (goo.gl/TRuF2Z)
Such is the ordeal in a country stricken with hyperinflation and a government so flummoxed on how to fix the distortions of its crumbling economy that it’s resorting to introducing what it says is a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency. The “petro” would eclipse the near worthless “strong bolivar,” which has lost 98% of its value against the dollar in the past year.
The problem is that in a country as broke as Venezuela, the government can’t print enough bills or pay the hefty fees for commercial printers to supply them. Paying with plastic? Credit-card readers seldom work.
Additionally, Venezuela Ranked Last in the Rule of Law Index 2017-2018.
And, another one from Steve Hanke,
A shortage of medical supplies in Venezuela has left many hospitals without the reagents to test blood for diseases. This has led to a burgeoning black market for blood, another public health crisis tearing through #Venezuela. https://t.co/Ym4SwB7Zus
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) February 6, 2018
Across the border,
The facility, opened Saturday near the border city of Cúcuta, is expected to provide shelter of up to 48 hours for 120 people a day. Pregnant mothers, the elderly and minors who entered the country legally will be given priority. It will be administered by the Red Cross.
And they come to stay: Once-rich Venezuelans live as beggars in Colombia, but they don’t want to go back. “Bogotá officials believe that as many as 600,000 Venezuelans are now living in Colombia.”
With a vested interest for the status quo,
According to Otero, there are eight armed groups that make up the Maduro administration’s muscle:
- Armed civilian militias that are uniformed and trained by the army
- The Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Boliviariana — GNB)
- The Bolivarian National Police (Policía Nacional Bolivariana — PNB)
- The Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana — FANB)
- Cuban military advisors surrounding Maduro
- “Colectivos,” the pro-government paramilitary organizations that operate throughout the country
- The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — FARC)
- Colombia’s National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional — ELN)
Read it at InSight Crime,
— InSight Crime (@InSightCrime) January 22, 2018
In other Venezuela news,
Venezuela has just announced an election — and it’s terrible news for democracy
I’m getting over a flu. Juliette filled in for me yesterday at DTGB, Who Can Investigate the Investigators?
Oscar Perez, a Venezuelan police pilot accused of stealing a helicopter and using it to attack the country’s Supreme Court in June, was killed Monday in Caracas, a government official told CNN.
The high-ranking member of the Venezuelan government asked to remain anonymous. CNN has not been able to independently confirm Perez’s death.
“BREAKING NEWS: Óscar Pérez is wounded by an exploded grenade launched by security forces surrounding him. He denounces that Maduro’s regime is shooting at them and do not allow them to surrender.”
ÚLTIMA HORA | Óscar Pérez está herido tras estallido de granada lanzada por cuerpos de seguridad que lo mantienen rodeado. Denuncia que régimen de Maduro les disparan y no los dejan entregarse pic.twitter.com/z1NNVCWZue
— Alberto Rodríguez (@AlbertoRT51) January 15, 2018
The assault was made public early Monday by Pérez himself, who posted video snippets on social media, including one in which he appears with a bloodied face.
“They are firing at us with RPG, grenades and grenade launchers, snipers,” Pérez says in one video. “There are civilians in here. We told them that we’re going to turn ourselves in and they don’t want to let us surrender. They want to kill us.”
A police operation for the capture of former CICPC inspector Oscar Pérez and his team took the entire day in Venezuelan social media. By 11:00 p.m., there was no official statement about his situation, only reports of the police takeover of the Bello Monte morgue, as an insinuation that his corpse might be there. Oscar Pérez’ group made a live digital recount of the assault they faced, uploading videos on his Instagram account (@equlibriogv) that showed what was happening. An unprecedented method that raised more suspicion than solidarity and prompted official mouthpieces to make unwise statements.
Venezuelan forces surrounded a house in the town of El Junquito, near the capital, Caracas, as they targeted the “cell” linked to pilot Oscar Pérez.
The authorities said they had arrested five people who they accuse of being part of a criminal group.
It is unclear what became of Mr Pérez.
The saga of a police pilot and former actor who authorities said stole a helicopter in June and tossed grenades over official buildings took another violent turn as government forces said they had engaged in a bloody shootout with him and supporters at their rural hideout.
Venezuelans watched on Monday as Oscar Perez posted videos online of the fighting between special-forces soldiers and his group of civilians and former military personnel.
“Venezuela, they’re killing us!” Mr. Perez said in a video amid gunfire as blood streamed down the side of his face. His fate wasn’t known Monday evening. He has been calling for rebellion against President Nicolás Maduro’s autocratic rule.
After hours without revealing what Oscar Pérez’s fate was, Justice Minister Néstor Reverol gave a news conference on Tuesday.
In it he said that Mr Pérez was among seven “terrorists” killed in the siege.
Last Friday I asked, Speaking of sh**holes, where were you?,
Today Rachel Campos-Duffy wants too know Who is Sean Penn to lecture Trump about compassion?
So what has Sean Penn said about these horrible indignities and abuses suffered by the Venezuelan people? Nothing. Where is his “compassionate” op-ed to show concern for the victims of Venezuelan socialism and repression? Silence.
Well, I dug through this blog’s archives, and found this gem from 2011: Back then Hugo Chávez was still alive, and Sean had invited Charlie Sheen to Haiti, as if the blighted country hadn’t had enough yet, and Charlie accepted.
Sean’s meeting with Hugo Chávez (link in Portuguese) this weekend to discuss Hugo’s proposal to send a goodwill peace commission to Libya. Chávez claims (link in Spanish) Sean’s worried about what’s going on in Libya, as if there weren’t enough reasons to worry about what’s going on in Venezuela.
Once Sean and Hugo work out the Libya situation, Sean will be heading to Haiti with Charlie next week.
Sean wasn’t the only American actor hangin’ with Hugo. Kevin Spacey and Tim Robbins also did, and Hugo bankrolled Danny Glover to the tune of $20 million to produce two movies, [CORRECTION old link; go here for a current link] one of which was – wait for it – a bio of Toussaint D’Overture, the Haitian slave that led the revolt against the French and declared himself emperor.
Haiti’s per capita GDP is US$739.60.
So I ask again, where are they?
Cash-Strapped Venezuela Offers to Pay for Medicines With Diamonds (emphasis added),
CARACAS, Venezuela—With hospital shelves bare and the government stumped on how to settle $5 billion in arrears to pharmaceutical companies, cash-strapped Venezuela recently offered some foreign suppliers alternative compensation: diamonds, gold and coltan, the rare metal used to make cellphones and Playstations.
The proposed exchange perplexed the pharma representatives, whose companies had no policies on accepting precious gems and metals as payment, according to three people familiar with the meeting last month where Venezuela’s health minister made the offer.
While it isn’t clear if any of the companies accepted it, the proposal underscores how Venezuela’s economic collapse is forcing President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled administration to improvise to pay for goods as severe dollar shortages push the country toward a barter society.
Venezuelan economists estimate Venezuela’s inflation could reach 30,000%. However, no accurate forecasts can be made during hyperinflations. Those that do so display their incompetence & foolishness .https://t.co/fLQgu3mmSr
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) January 5, 2018
I found this on my Twitter feed,
Can you imagine the cabinet meeting this morning with the Portuguese PM. “Um, the Venezuela’n president accused us of what??..?? Pork boats?”
— Joel D. Hirst (@joelhirst) December 28, 2017
Traditionally, Venezuelan’s cook a pork roast instead of turkey for Christmas, so when President Nicolas Maduro’s promise of subsidised pork failed to materialise, frustration boiled over into what some have dubbed the “pork revolution.”
“Pork revolution”? (emphasis added; video below the fold)
Local media and Twitter users posted images of hundreds of people standing on streets and burning trash in protest at the shortages, in what some social media users dubbed the “pork revolution”.
Maduro, who has been alleging a foreign-led “economic war” against his government, went on state TV to blame Portugal for failing to deliver pork imports in time for Christmas.
“What happened to the pork? They sabotaged us. I can name a country: Portugal,” Maduro said.
“We bought all the Pork we had in Venezuela. We bought everything,” he continued.
“But we had to import and so I gave the order, signed the agreements but they pursued the bank accounts of the boats,”
“We were chased by two giant ships that came and sabotaged us, but only for now”.
And here I thought I was starting to run out of absurd Maduro stories.
Rumor has it that Maduro wants out. With the apparent backing of China, Russia and the Cuban military, why would he want to? Especially now that he’s trying to float the petro criptocurrency with not only gold and diamonds, but also by promising,
“Every single Petro will be backed by a barrel of oil,” Maduro said, promising to provide cryptocurrency mining throughout Venezuela. “We will set up a special team of cryptocurrency specialists so they will be engaged in mining in all states and municipalities of our country.”
Says the guy who couldn’t deliver the bacon. How do they say “when pigs fly” in Venezuela?
Video in Spanish below the fold,
Josh Meyer’s fascinating report, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook, highlights the connections between the drug trade and terrorism:
Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
The untold story of Project Cassandra illustrates the immense difficulty in mapping and countering illicit networks in an age where global terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime have merged, but also the extent to which competing agendas among government agencies — and shifting priorities at the highest levels — can set back years of progress.
And while the pursuit may be shadowed in secrecy, from Latin American luxury hotels to car parks in Africa to the banks and battlefields of the Middle East, the impact is not: In this case, multi-ton loads of cocaine entering the United States, and hundreds of millions of dollars going to a U.S.-designated terrorist organization with vast reach.
What did the Obama administration do about it?
After 9/11 the DEA launched investigations into Venezuelan crime syndicates, links between Colombian drug-traffickers and Lebanese money-launderers, and the “suspicious flow of thousands of used cars” from the U.S. to Benin, Mr. Meyer explains. The U.S. military was also investigating links between Iran and Shiite militias with improvised explosive devices that killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers. “All of these paths eventually converged on Hezbollah,” he writes.
By 2008 the DEA had “amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself” into a global crime syndicate “that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking and money laundering,” Mr. Meyer reports. DEA’s Project Cassandra was born to take down the Hezbollah operation by busting its “innermost circle.”
Alleged Venezuelan drug kingpin Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Aruba in 2014. Venezuela’s close alliance with Iran is no secret and reeling in “the chicken,” as Carvajal was known, would have generated key intelligence about cocaine trafficking to the U.S. and North Africa. The Netherlands mysteriously intervened and returned him to Venezuela.
When Colombia arrested Walid Makled, a Syrian-born Venezuelan who was alleged to be shipping ten tons of cocaine to the U.S. each month, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos refused U.S. extradition requests and sent him to Venezuela. Mr. Obama repaid Mr. Santos by backing his amnesty for the FARC, the largest drug cartel in the Americas.
Additionally, (back to Meyer’s article),
As a result, some Hezbollah operatives were not pursued via arrests, indictments, or Treasury designations that would have blocked their access to U.S. financial markets, according to Bauer, a career Treasury official, who served briefly in its Office of Terrorist Financing as a senior policy adviser for Iran before leaving in late 2015. And other “Hezbollah facilitators”arrested in France, Colombia, Lithuania have not been extradited — or indicted — in the U.S., she wrote.
Billions of drug trade money funding terrorists. Tens of thousands of lives ruined. Read The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.
This warrants a most rigorous congressional investigation.
Cross-posted at WoW! Magazine.