Archive for the ‘Chavez’ category

Children are Starving Under Socialism

December 17, 2017

Children are Starving Under Socialism, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, December 17, 2017

(Socialist dictatorship or a Communist Kleptocracy? — Not that it makes much difference. My wife and I were in Venezuela, off and on, for a couple of years just before and after Chavez took over. Back then, food was plentiful, the country was prosperous, health care was good and the people seemed to be happy.– DM)

Today’s New York Times has a long article, replete with photographs, on starving children in Venezuela. The situation is grim:

Hunger has stalked Venezuela for years. Now, it is killing the nation’s children at an alarming rate, doctors in the country’s public hospitals say.

Venezuela has been shuddering since its economy began to collapse in 2014. Riots and protests over the lack of affordable food, excruciating long lines for basic provisions, soldiers posted outside bakeries and angry crowds ransacking grocery stores have rattled cities, providing a telling, public display of the depths of the crisis.

But deaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition — a condition they had rarely encountered before the economic crisis began.

The article goes on to describe how infants are dying of starvation, young children are leaving their homes to forage for food in dumpsters, adults are shriveling to the size of children, and so on. All of this despite Venezuela supposedly having the “largest proven oil reserves in the world.” The Times says Venezuela’s “economy has collapsed.” It refers to the country’s “economic crisis” at least seven times by my count, but the origin of that crisis remains a mystery. This is as close as the Times wants to come:

President Nicolás Maduro has acknowledged that people are hungry in Venezuela, but he has refused to accept international aid, often saying that Venezuela’s economic problems are caused by foreign adversaries like the United States, which he says is waging an economic war against his country.

The article moves on without comment.

Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But many economists contend that years of economic mismanagement set the stage for the current disaster.

Socialism by definition is economic mismanagement. But the Times never does finger the real culprit, although it does briefly mention the fact that Venezuela’s government is Socialist:

The Venezuelan government has used food to keep the Socialists in power, critics say. Before recent elections, people living in government housing projects said they were visited by representatives of their local Socialist community councils — the government-aligned groups that organize the delivery of boxes of cheap food — and threatened with being cut off if they did not vote for the government.

The Democrats should try that, if they aren’t doing it already.

The Times’s coverage of Socialist Bernie Sanders has been almost entirely positive, and it reports gleefully on the growing number of millennials who describe themselves as Socialists. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the paper’s editorial board endorse Elizabeth Warren in 2020. I suppose it would be too much cognitive dissonance for the Times to acknowledge that the end point of Socialism, always and everywhere, is empty zoos and vanishing pets; dumpsters scoured for food scraps; rats hunted as a protein source; police violence against the hungry; a disappearing health care system; populations fleeing to neighboring countries; and, as in Venezuela, starving children, while the Socialists in charge of the scam make off with billions of dollars.

Right Angle – A Self Inflicted Tragedy in Venezuela

August 15, 2017

Right Angle, BillWhittleChannel via YouTube, August 9, 2017

(Is it Socialism or Communism, and does it matter? — DM)

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela

May 25, 2017

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela, Center for Security Policy, Luis Fleischman, May 25, 2017

More than fifty days after mass civil disobedience began in Venezuela, more than 50 people have died at the hands of the government.

People have lost fear and the government is resorting to more measures that are repressive to subdue the population. The idea is to make every effort to stay in power regardless of human casualties. Thus, the Venezuelan government is launching the so-called “Plan Zamora,” an unclear plan and has not been published in a written form. This makes the plan even more unpredictable and dangerous. So far, “Plan Zamora” has been applied on three Venezuelan states, Táchira, Carabobo, and now Barinas (Chavez birthplace).

“Plan Zamora” consists of a military-civic coalition that includes national guards, the military, militias, and para-military groups. The purpose is “to prevent a coup d’état” and “to restore order” in the face of protests. This means increasing repression, assassination of protestors, and SA-style elimination of opponents.

Indeed, in the last several days, five protestors were treacherously murdered under the plan. It is a system aimed at intimidating protestors to the point of dissuading them from further joining demonstrations.

Maduro has also proposed a constitutional reform aimed at eliminating the National Assembly, currently dominated by the opposition. A new constitution would be drafted by a new constituent assembly elected by the local city halls and by community groups, carefully picked as stooges of the Maduro regime. The move would secure power consolidation in the hands of Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has once again increased its sanctions on Venezuela’s chief Supreme Justice and seven other members of the Supreme Court. Such step was taken in reaction to their decision last month, to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Those sanctions will freeze their assets within U.S jurisdiction and no U.S citizen will be allowed to do business with them.

This is an important step as it discourages government officers from obeying illegal and unconstitutional orders. However, it remains insufficient given the magnitude of the regime crimes. From now onwards every military officer, every security official, and every government official that follows the government must be sanctioned. Likewise, every single individual involved in the drug business, which is today a huge government business. The purpose of these measures should be to encourage desertion from the government.

Furthermore, the Trump Administration should not compromise with lobbyists or with members of Congress that have been lobbied by the Venezuelan government. Most such lobbying is conducted through CITGO, the U.S based company associated with the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA. So far, CITGO has scored incredible successes, which are scary in terms of how foreign agents can corrupt Washington. Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) effectively prevented the Senate from passing sanctions legislation against Venezuelan government officials in 2014. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) was in charge of Citizens Energy, a non-profit organization that distributed heating oil provided by CITGO to U.S poor neighborhoods, to buy the good will of the U.S establishment.

The same applies to U.S business interests that, so far, have prevented full sanctions against CITGO and PDVSA. This step is also long overdue that could have devastating consequences for the Maduro regime.

Trump’s campaign promises included the curbing of such lobbyists and we hope and expect that the president makes good on his promises.

Additionally, Venezuela has its own conscious and unconscious accomplices in its disinformation campaign in the United States. This week the Rev Jesse Jackson warned the Trump Administration not “to help get rid of a regime it does not like,” as if Venezuela were not a huge violator of human rights or the number one sponsor of international transnational crime. He praised the regime founded by Hugo Chavez as one that brought about reduction of poverty and improvement in health care services, as if Venezuelans were not facing hunger now or as if they were any safer in the face of government-sponsored violence. Worse, Jackson criticizes the old elite that ruled Venezuela before Chavez and forgets the new class of billionaires that the Chavez regime created by allowing them to benefit from dubious businesses, government connections, and plain corruption. This includes his own vice president, who in his early forties has accumulated a fortune of 3 billion dollars in a supposedly socialist and egalitarian regime.

Jackson accuses the United States of mobilizing the Organization of American States (OAS) against Maduro, when in fact the person taking the lead is the OAS Secretary and former Foreign Minister of a Uruguayan president with strong left-wing credentials. Jackson forgets that OAS members are appalled by the violations of the organization’s democracy charter and human rights commitment. Furthermore, countries of the region such as Brazil and Colombia are concerned that drug cartels are receiving Russian weapons from Caracas, including MANPADS, a shoulder-launched surface to air missile. The Swedish government also confirmed that such missiles were found in a camp ran by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Last but not least, Jackson called to follow the initiative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country that has accused the OAS of being a “weapon of destruction” against Venezuela. But Jackson does not mention that St. Vincent as well as other Caribbean countries benefitted from Venezuelan oil largesse in exchange for political support. Furthermore, as I wrote a few years ago, several Caribbean countries that are part of Venezuela’s political Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) have issued passports to Iranians, presumably at the request of Venezuela.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines itself produced unreliable travel documents, where anybody may obtain a new passport and easily change their names. It is reasonable to assume that Iranians could have taken advantage of this vulnerability. Likewise, St. Vincent forged an alliance with Iran, who sent the island US $7 million for social projects.

The Trump Administration, as well as the media and the public, must be aware of these facts and politically fight obstacles that prevent us from carrying out the obligation to protect our national security, the security of the region, and the values for which America stands.

Diplomatic and economic efforts must continue until Venezuela recovers its democracy.

Congress Wants New Sanctions on Venezuela for Ties to Iran-Backed Terrorists

February 9, 2017

Congress Wants New Sanctions on Venezuela for Ties to Iran-Backed Terrorists, Washington Free Beacon, February 9, 2017

(Based on what I read daily in the Latin American Herald Tribune and local Panamanian papers, the proposal would likely do substantially more harm than good. Maduro’s supporters would jump on anything useful to damn American imperialism: “Imperialistic America is interfering in Latin American affairs again!

Panama is still mad at Theodore Roosevelt for creating Panama out of part of Colombia — even though an annual holiday rejoicing over Panamanian independence from Colombia is widely celebrated — and for our “imperialism” in building the Panama Canal– an economic resource we turned over to Panama years ago and which provides mucho dinero for Panama.

Clearly, Maduro is an uneducated, corrupt jerk and has worsened the mess left by el Thugo Chavez. Food? Medicine? Toilet paper? Human rights? Human dignity? freeing imprisoned opposition leaders? Democracy? No way, Jose.  There is little or nothing we can do to improve the lives or to change the regime under which Venezuelans now exist. –DM)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during a press conference with international and national press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Maduro speaks about the economic war his government have faced and measures to stabilize economy. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during a press conference with international and national press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

A bipartisan team of lawmakers is calling on President Donald Trump to immediately sanction Venezuela for its ongoing human rights violations and ties to terrorist organizations that reach the highest levels of government, according to a new congressional communication sent to the White House.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) petitioned the White House this week to take action against Venezuela and sanction leading government officials, including the country’s second-in-command, Tareck El Aissami, who is believed to have ties to radical terror organizations.

Venezuela has been devolving into further chaos in recent months as the oppressive socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro continues its crackdown on dissident voices and other reformists.

Maduro caused an outrage in the United States earlier this year when he appointed former regional governor El Aissami to a high-level post that puts him next in line to assume control from Maduro. Aissami has long been accused of having ties to drug kingpins and radical terrorist organizations.

Rogue nations such as Iran have made overtures to anti-Western nations such as Venezuela in an effort to boost the number of rogue nations thriving in America’s backyard. Numerous experts have claimed Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, and other terrorist forces have been spotted moving across Latin America.

The call for sanctions by these lawmakers comes as the Trump administration considers ratcheting up international pressure on a range of bad actors, including Iran, North Korea, and others. Many GOP leaders in Congress have been urging the White House to be more aggressive when it comes to dealing with rogue nations across the globe.

“We are writing to request that your administration take immediate action to sanction regime officials responsible for the ongoing dire humanitarian situation, oppressive human rights conditions, and unconscionable corruption taking place in Venezuela,” write Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“Moreover, Maduro’s recent appointment of Tareck El Aissami puts him next in line to possibly become the next leader of Venezuela, which is extremely troubling given his alleged ties to drug trafficking and terrorist organizations,” the lawmakers write.

“It is extremely concerning that the Maduro regime continues to undertake increasingly authoritative measures against innocent people in Venezuela,” according to the letter, which accuses the Venezuelan leader of committing mass human rights atrocities in an effort to retain power.

“The opposition has been subjected to intense persecution, being vilified on state media by Maduro regime officials, routinely accused of false crimes, and arbitrarily imprisoned,” the lawmakers write, adding that there are more than 100 political prisoners, including U.S. citizens, being held captive in the country.

“We believe that all of them must be freed,” the lawmakers write. “Maduro has also relied on corrupted branches of his regime, such as the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council, to invalidate actions undertaken by the National Assembly, including an amnesty bill for the country’s political prisoners and a motion for a constitutionally enshrined recall referendum on the presidency.”

The United States must take aggressive action against Venezuela in order to further isolate Maduro’s government and spark regime change, according to Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen.

U.S. business interests also are at stake, according to the lawmakers, who make the case that corruption in Venezuela is harming American interests. Many companies, they say, have been forced to pay millions in bribes to Venezuelan officials in order to complete business transactions in the country.

“We are concerned that over payments of food contracts could likewise represent a potential liability for U.S. companies,” according to the letter. “Thus, we believe that the Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] should issue clarifying regulations to ensure that U.S. companies do not inadvertently engage in business directly with any corrupt regime entity in Venezuela that would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.”

The appointment of El Aissami is particularly concerning to Menendez, Ros-Lehtinen, and others in Congress.

El Aissami has been suspected of issuing passports to members of the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups during his tenure overseeing the country’s immigration bureau.

El Aissami also has been alleged to have played a role in the recruitment of radicalized individuals to Hezbollah.

“The nexus between corruption, drug trafficking, and the influence of extremist terrorist organizations in Venezuela is well documented, many of these nefarious and illicit activities are associated with El Aissami,” the lawmakers write.