Posted tagged ‘Venezuela’

Former Official: Obama Admin ‘Systematically Disbanded’ Units Investigating Iran’s Terrorism Financing Networks

June 9, 2017

Former Official: Obama Admin ‘Systematically Disbanded’ Units Investigating Iran’s Terrorism Financing Networks, Washinton Free Beacon, , June 8, 2017

US President Barack Obama meets with veterans and Gold Star Mothers to discuss the Iran nuclear deal on September 10, 2015 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

“We had operations that were denied overseas. We had funding that was cut,” he said. “People were making decisions that the counter-terrorism mission and the Iran nuclear deal was a central and all-important element whereas containing Iran’s malevolent forces was less important.”


The Obama administration “systematically disbanded” law enforcement investigative units across the federal government focused on disrupting Iranian, Syrian, and Venezuelan terrorism financing networks out of concern the work could cause friction with Iranian officials and scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a former U.S. official who spent decades dismantling terrorist financial networks.

David Asher, who previously served as an adviser to Gen. John Allen at the Defense and State Departments, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday that top officials across several key law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Obama administration “systematically disbanded” law enforcement activities targeting the terrorism financing operations of Iran, Hezbollah, and Venezuela in the lead-up to and during the nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

“Senior leadership, presiding, directing, and overseeing various sections [of these agencies] and portions of the U.S. intelligence community systematically disbanded any internal or external stakeholder action that threatened to derail the administration’s policy agenda focused on Iran,” he testified.

Asher now serves on the board of directors of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Illicit Finance and is an adjunct fellow at the Center for New American Security, two national security think tanks.

He attributed the motivation for decisions to dismantle the investigative units to “concerns about interfering with the Iran deal,” a reference to the nuclear deal forged between the U.S., five other world powers, and Iran during the final years of the Obama administration.

As a result, “several top cops” retired and the U.S. government lost their years of expertise.

The United States squandered the chance “at a very low financial cost” to take apart Hezbollah’s finances, its global organization, and the Iran proxy’s ability to “readily terrorize us, victimize us, and run a criminal network through our shores, inside our banking systems—and in partnership with the world’s foremost drug cartels—target our state and society,” he said.

“We lost much of the altitude we had gained in our global effort, and many aspects including key personnel, who were reassigned, budgets that were slashed—many key elements of the investigations that were underway were undermined,” he said.

“Today we have to deal with the legacy of that and how we rebuild this capability—knowing that you can have a nuclear deal with Iran and you can contain and disrupt their illicit activities,” he continued.

The decision was a “mix of tragedy and travesty combined with a seriously misguided turn of policy that resulted in no strategic gain and a serious miscarriage of justice,” he said.

“Instead, in narrow pursuit of the [nuclear agreement], the administration failed to realize the lasting effect on U.S. law enforcement collaborative efforts and actively mitigated investigations and prosecutions needed to effectively dismantle Hezbollah and the Iran ‘Action Network,'” he said.

Asher defined the Iran “Action Network” to include groups and governments involved in crafting covert elements of Iran’s foreign policy, including terrorism, illicit finance, weapons and narcotics trafficking, and nuclear procurement and proliferation.

“The level of cooperation between the government of Venezuela, the government of Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah that we observed in our operations—that we personally were involved with—including people in this room—was actually astonishing,” he said. “The evidentiary base to take down this entire global network exists. The facts are clear.”

Before the administration dismantled them, the collaboration between a small group of U.S. agencies was making great strides in targeting terrorist financial networks, Asher said.

“This combination of law enforcement’s criminal, civil, and regulatory authorities led to actions that provided a framework to deter, disrupt, and publicly illuminate Hezbollah’s global illicit network,” he said. “The result was the most successful path taken against Hezbollah to date after many years of inaction.”

The decision to dismantle the investigative units undermined the U.S. government’s success just as it was beginning, “perhaps because of fear of the consequences,” he said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R., Calif.) plans to introduce additional sanctions aimed at Hezbollah as soon as next week, according to a congressional aide.

After Asher’s testimony, Royce called the scenario a “striking lesson in life, which is the zeal for the deal, which becomes a deal for any cost, and people get caught up in that.”

The dismantling of these investigative units is just one of many aspects of the nuclear deal and its impact on U.S. Iran policy receiving new scrutiny in recent months.

Royce referred to the Obama administration’s release of seven Iranian-born prisoners in U.S. custody last year as part of a prisoner swap for dual U.S.-Iranian citizens. A Politico article in April detailed how several of the seven freed individuals were accused by the Obama administration’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security.

Citing unpublicized court filings, the report said the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men.

Critics this week also are questioning why the administration never publicly disclosed an Iranian cyber-attack on the State Department in late September of 2015 that sent shockwaves through the department and private-contractor community. The Washington Free Beacon reported new details about the hacking Wednesday.

David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who now runs the Institute for Science International Security, testified to the same panel recently that out of a “misplaced” fear of disrupting the nuclear deal, the Obama administration also interfered with U.S. law enforcement efforts against Iran’s terrorist network.

Royce asked Asher about some of his similar assertions—that the Obama administration aborted law enforcement operations against Iran’s terrorism network.

“There are many holes in this cheese and law enforcement didn’t need to be one of them,” Asher said.

Asher said the late-March Justice Department arrest of Kassim Tajideen, who he called a “super-facilitator” financier of Hezbollah, rattled the regime.

“The fact that we’ve got him in prison and he might cooperate—I’m sure that’s gotten their attention,” he said. “We had many more that we were prohibited from acting on for political reasons.”

“We had operations that were denied overseas. We had funding that was cut,” he said. “People were making decisions that the counter-terrorism mission and the Iran nuclear deal was a central and all-important element whereas containing Iran’s malevolent forces was less important.”

“I think you can do both—and we have to do both,” he said.

Asher also recalled a similar scenario during the Bush administration when it stripped the Justice Department of its authorities to indict the government of North Korea in order not to derail the proposed North Korea nuclear deal.

“I think this is a bipartisan syndrome—this is not blame the Obama administration, blame the Bush administration,” he said. “There’s something about people wanting a deal at any cost.”

Why Venezuela Matters

June 7, 2017

Why Venezuela Matters, American ThinkerDavid Prentice, June 7, 2017

(Socialism or Communism? In the end, is there a difference? Please see also, Cassandra’s narco-curse. — DM)

Venezuela is one of the most unreported tragedies of our time.  We can guess why: the left-leaning media are not interested in telling us what happened in Venezuela because it disproves so many of their narratives.

In a nutshell:  Venezuela was once the most prosperous country in South America.  It is now one of the poorer nations in the world.  Food is hard to find, toilet paper is scarce, and civilization as the citizenry once knew it is gone.  Venezuela’s story has been one of going from first to worst, a fact the left does not want anyone to know.  The socialist paradise the left inexplicably wants for the U.S. lies in tatters at the top of South America.

Venezuela matters because socialism is one of the two great political blights foisted on the world in the past century.  There are multiple examples of the horrors of this system, be it Soviet socialism, the socialist killing fields of Cambodia, the rotting Euro-states, or the current and unfinished calamity of Venezuela.  Socialism is a system that always promises great things for humanity but in the end is dehumanizing, destructive, and false.  Dressed as an angel of light, offering equality, fairness, and goodness, socialism always seems to change clothes into the angel of death.  Destruction of the human spirit becomes its normative end.

Its siren song is hard to resist.  It always sounds so good.  Hearing about it during the college years captures your attention and consideration.  The professors espousing it seem knowledgeable, credentialed, and persuasive.  Not many teach against it.

My first conversation with someone who explained the horrors of socialism was with my grandfather.  Coming home from college, I was asked to walk him around the neighborhood.  He was in his eighties.  During that walk, he tried his best to pass on how he had fought socialism his entire life.  He was a public school teacher from Tacoma, Washington, who made it one of his projects in life to teach about the ills of socialism.

Needless to say, it was surprising, having heard my professors.  I, being young and impressionable, thought he seemed misguided and weak.

Since then, history has vindicated my grandfather’s vision.  The mask had yet to come entirely off the Soviet failure, the Killing Fields had not happened, the horrors of Mao’s China lay unexposed, Vietnam had not fallen, Solzhenitsyn had not been published, and Venezuela was wealthy.  Yet socialism was already something this man knew was disastrous.

With all these clear historical monuments to the abject failure of the socialist system, Bernie Sanders remains the most popular figure on the left.  Anyone running with a (D) behind his name will have to be “with him” (the unintended political slogan).  It’s sad.  An entire generation have not yet had their grandfathers walk with them to share the collectivist nightmare.  Instead, we have too many grandfathers like Bernie: delusional, incompetent, and ignorant of history.

Once upon a day, this widespread and full acceptance of socialism was not possible in this country.  The Democratic Party was not fully pro-socialist; they were once the party of JFK and Scoop Jackson, along with many other fervent anti-socialists.  They had not swallowed the Kool-Aid.  Unfortunately, too many of our ill-informed citizens now accept it, considering it just another system of governance.

It’s not.

Venezuela has become the clearest current object lesson against socialist destruction.  It’s a vital lesson for economic discussion in our own public square, one of the most important lessons our current snowflake generation could learn.  Everyone knows a few decent, hardworking, and talented Millennials.  Most know some of the snowflakes, too.  Trust me: they need help.  They need to see what is happening in Venezuela.  They need to see just how badly they don’t want Venezuela to happen here.  That lesson needs a bullhorn.

These kids love their smartphones.  They love good beer, good wine, cultural and sporting events.  Most even love nice cars and nice places to live.  They prefer civilization.  In spite of their current alliance with environmentalism and “climate change,” they love the material advantages we all enjoy that socialism did not bring them.  They use (and love) so many technological advances that you would think that convincing them to avoid socialism would be easy.

But it’s not.  Because now there is an entire home-grown army of angels of light preaching the gospel of socialism daily, and too few like my grandfather.

– Our public education has indoctrinated an entire generation to favor socialism.

– Our universities teach it uncritically as if it has brought us paradise on Earth, rather than reduced countries to poverty.

– Our leftist media rarely speak or sneer against it; they save that for the capitalistic freedom that gives them their lifestyles.

– Hollywood has shown a nonstop narrative of villains as either businessmen (capitalists) or U.S. military officers (who love capitalism) for twenty-five years.  Few heroes are entrepreneurs to Hollywood.

– An entire political party has renounced free enterprise for socialism.

– Rich fools such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Google principals, media moguls, and the Hollywood elite naïvely push it.  That’s most of our information base.

– We had eight years of a president who sounded like Hugo Chávez, nothing like JFK, and a leftist media that didn’t care to know the difference.

Venezuela is the perfect truth for countering these “angels of light” and unmasking them for what they are: delusional shills for darkness and tyranny.  This darkness, unlike the half-year-old moronic Russia-Trump collusion story, actually is a fact and has evidence – evidence ignored and unreported.

Chávez came to power by promising to redistribute, and then redistributing Venezuela’s wealth to the poor.  Giving money to the poor is always the bait for socialism; it allows power to be won and kept, as it did for Chávez.  It allowed our cultural saviors to say how much Chávez helped the poor.  In the end, it destroyed the people who voted for him.  Too late, they finally burned the Chávez childhood home.

Barack Obama sang this same song to win his nomination and did untold damage by following socialist tendencies.  His “stimulus” was nothing more than a handout to Democrat constituencies to consolidate power.  Yes, that sounds familiar.  Venezuela redux.  He was headed there.

Chávez nationalized thousands of businesses under the guise of helping the downtrodden, ultimately destroying the ability of the Venezuelans to escape poverty.  Chávez gave them fish for a day and then prevented them from fishing for themselves, convincing them he was the only one who would help them.  He demonized business, then took it away, making the chaos that reigns now.  It sounds unusually close to the Democrat platform today.  As Trump noted, the Democrats care about the poor only for their votes to keep power, but Democrats give the poor no tools to dig themselves out.

Chávez ended up obscenely wealthy, as did his daughter – billionaires for ruining a country and the lives of countless millions.  Similarly, the Clintons had their illicit and obscene pay-to-play foundation scheme; Obama is going to get millions for being a Chávez echo, huge speaking fees, along with free everything from suck-up celebrities.  A visionless (and obtusely rich) Democratic Party does not know that Venezuela matters, or why.

While Venezuela descends into darkness, the leftist media focus on how Islamophobic we are.

Pounding the left for their awful, dark, and literally wrong vision of socialism needs to be done – all while exhorting a new generation to embrace the creative vision of free enterprise and of entrepreneurship, giving them what they are used to in their lifestyle and more.

An entire generation needs to rediscover what my grandfather knew.  If we miss this opportunity to show why Venezuela matters, we might get there sooner than we think.


Cassandra’s narco-curse

June 7, 2017

Cassandra’s narco-curse, Venezuela News and ViewsDaniel Duquenal, June 6, 2017

(An update on the current level of repression in Venezuela. — DM)

Now they steal while they repress. That is, they gas you while they are protected with their masks, and when you are coughing out your lungs they perform on you one or many of the following activities: frisk you, beat you up, smash you to the ground, break your camera or personal object of choice, steal your cell phone, steal your wallet and wristwatch, and who knows what else their nazified mind can come up with.


It is hard not to be despondent in Venezuela these days. Even if the paradox is that the despondency of some translate into renewed energy. I suppose that when everything has been stolen from you, that is, your future, you may react strongly, if anything to see how many you can bring down with you.

I, for one, have been very despondent for two weeks, Well, particularly despondent I should correct. A very bad cold that drags on made things worse by making me feel guilty from not going out to any protest march for the past two weeks. Maybe I could have made an effort, but I also need to be as healthy as I can because my health affects the well being of others, like the SO.  So I read twitter and watch in horror and awe the videos of what Venezuela has turned into.

For the last two weeks, as expected, the regime has been cranking up its terror machine. They attack with excess tear gas, excess violence, more and more live bullets, even before the protest marches get the time to coalesce. But that has not been enough to stop people from taking to the streets so they notched it up. Thus they started riding their bikes into shopping centers and shot people taking refuge in there. I know it, a brother of mine was the victim of one of such attacks when two bikes with two nazional guards each burst into the CCCT mall. While he was recovering from a long march with something to drink and eat before reaching for his car back home, the bikes pushed through the glass doors and on to the court floor, driving around panicked people, shooting their pellets at random.

But it has not been enough yet, so up a notch. Now they steal while they repress. That is, they gas you while they are protected with their masks, and when you are coughing out your lungs they perform on you one or many of the following activities: frisk you, beat you up, smash you to the ground, break your camera or personal object of choice, steal your cell phone, steal your wallet and wristwatch, and who knows what else their nazified mind can come up with.

There is no need for me to describe in further details: foreign newspapers are full of such stories and pics. Get any serious time line on tweet, like mine, and be blown away by some of the videos that you will see.

And yet there are still assholes that are not getting it, that speak of dialogue, or complain that I use words such as nazi as if nothing. Will they feel better if I were to use only Fascist? Stalinist? Franquista? Castrista?  Aren’t this all the final representation of the root idea? That is, totalitarianism.

I can defend myself by noticing that the root nazi does not appear in any of my chosen label words. You can find f c and t words, but no n word. I know better. But in the end it does not make any difference. People should not judge today’s event with criteria of the past, just as sins of the past cannot be evaluated with morality of the present.  And yet this is what you find in reporting on Venezuela in the press and many web pages, a desperate attempt at describing the post Chavez regime with cliches from the past when what we have, in truth, is the first true modern narco state, in need of its own words for its accounting.

And for those who think that a video of police unburdening defenseless women from their wallet, watches and phones is not such a terrible deal since they were left alive and unraped, I beg to differ. The Nazis in the Russian forests did awful things just at the Communists did at the Siberian Gulags. The difference between then and now is that the streets were not crowded with people holding an Iphone in hand, ready to film the evidence. As a matter of fact the Nazi were stupid enough to document some of their horrors, something that Stalin smartly made sure it never happened.

In today’s era of Facebook terror works best instilling the idea of what could happen to you if you leave home, rather than doing the actual violence. The horrors of the videos caught in Caracas streets are in fact lesser than the psychological terror that they pretend to create in the comfort of your own home. Without much success perhaps, for the time being, but not detracting from the fact that their totalitarian intent is there for all to see.

Even in my most pessimistic scenarios I did not envision a Venezuelan police beating to the ground someone without any weapon in hand, and then lower himself over his victim and search his pockets. Somehow for all my Cassandra qualities I was expecting more classical repression, more death counts.  But no, a narco state does not operate this way. Its terror is sui generis. And now Cassandra is afraid to meditate on what comes next.

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.

America Should Be Ready, Venezuela Might Become the Next Syria

April 24, 2017

America Should Be Ready, Venezuela Might Become the Next Syria, Town HallDavid Grantham, April 24, 2017

Making matters worse, this regime has allowed international criminal networks and terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah, to thrive within the country’s borders. This permissive environment has thoroughly compromised the upper echelons of the Venezuelan government and allowed illicit behavior to permeate the economy and society.

Most important, the same actors in Russia and Iran that prevent Assad’s demise are the same players underwriting Venezuelan tyranny. Remember that Vice President Tareck El Aissami is Hezbollah’s go-to guy in the administration. Experts should not be fooled into thinking that geographic distance will dissuade Russia or Iran from intervening on Maduro’s behalf. Neither country will so easily cede such a strategic and lucrative relationship – one that each country has spent years cultivating.


Said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Nazi buildup in Europe: “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.” The unwillingness to act when such action would have been simple and effective constitutes the “endless repetition of history,” he concluded.

Today, observers would rightly associate this statement with Syria. But Churchill did not make this proclamation so future generations would seek out examples that affirmed his logic. He made the statement so future generations would break that dreadful repetition. This is not just a quote of self reflection – it’s a call to action.

Syria is thoroughly out of hand and late remedies are now being applied. The cycle of historical inaction will not be broken in Syria. Pundits, politicians and military officials would be wise to stop reliving what could have been done there, and start looking at what can be done elsewhere. Therefore, the American government must determine the likelihood of Venezuela becoming another Syria – this time in the western hemisphere. The United States and its Latin American allies must then collectively decide whether to do anything about it.

In their quest for more and more power, Chavez and then Maduro made reliable access to basic necessities a virtual impossibility. Maduro then had the Supreme Court dissolve the Congress after the Venezuelan people stocked the legislature with opposition members through democratic elections. Although international outcry forced him to partially rescind that order, Maduro continues to issue tyrannical edicts that will have the same effect at a slower pace. Now the Maduro regime has armed loyalists to seek out and kill dissenters. Over twenty people have died in riots over the last few weeks.

This administration would rather starve its people than relinquish power. Maduro would rather dismantle government and assassinate opponents than keep the country viable. History tells us that such despotism and subsequent international inaction can lead to Assad-like levels of oppression.

Making matters worse, this regime has allowed international criminal networks and terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah, to thrive within the country’s borders. This permissive environment has thoroughly compromised the upper echelons of the Venezuelan government and allowed illicit behavior to permeate the economy and society.

Most important, the same actors in Russia and Iran that prevent Assad’s demise are the same players underwriting Venezuelan tyranny. Remember that Vice President Tareck El Aissami is Hezbollah’s go-to guy in the administration. Experts should not be fooled into thinking that geographic distance will dissuade Russia or Iran from intervening on Maduro’s behalf. Neither country will so easily cede such a strategic and lucrative relationship – one that each country has spent years cultivating.

President Trump must be prepared for the possibility of a Syria in the western hemisphere. The administration has already taken steps to sanction high-level Venezuelan officials for their work with cartels and known terrorist organizations. But they must also be prepared for preemptive action:

  • Anticipate and be prepared for the possibility that Russia, Iran and/or Hezbollah will help Maduro crush dissent, covertly or otherwise. Do not be caught off guard when they block U.N. resolutions, cripple Maduro’s adversaries through cyber attacks, or, in an extreme situation, deploy military assets.
  • Consider how and where to erect safe zones because a failing state may create a refugee crisis in a region already plagued by economic and social instability.
  • Work with Latin American allies to demand a democratic resolution. Don’t wait for collapse to be spurred into action.

This is not a call for military intervention. It is merely a reminder that the arc of history bends toward inaction – something we often come to regret.

Venezuela: Maduro arms militia, bans civilian gun ownership

April 22, 2017

Venezuela: Maduro arms militia, bans civilian gun ownership, Rebel Media, April 21, 2017

(The demonstrations remind me of those in Egypt preceeding the ouster of Morsi. — DM)


Venezuela seizes General Motors plant as property of the state

April 20, 2017

Venezuela seizes General Motors plant as property of the state, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, April 20, 2017

This news broke overnight and it undoubtedly comes as a shock to anyone who hasn’t been paying to socialism in general and the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in particular. The government of Venezuela came in and seized control of the General Motors plant in the city of Valencia, taking over the property, assets and accounts. The automotive giant responded by saying that they were immediately halting operations. (CNN)

General Motors says it will immediately halt operations in Venezuela after its plant in the country was unexpectedly seized by authorities.

GM (GM) described the takeover as an “illegal judicial seizure of its assets.”

The automaker said the seizure showed a “total disregard” of its legal rights. It said that authorities had removed assets including cars from company facilities.

“[GM] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights,” it said in a statement.

GM’s Venezuelan operation was already pretty much at the point of stagnation. Productivity was approaching zero because their currency had collapsed and they couldn’t order parts to keep the lines running. Also, the domestic market for cars wasn’t exactly booming because their potential customers have money which is basically worthless and they’re mostly too busy looking for scraps of food to worry about a new set of wheels.

If nothing else, this incident will provide an enlightening, educational moment for the rest of the world. It’s a given that this is bad news for General Motors, for the workers there… let’s just say it. This is bad news for everyone except Maduro and his cronies. But it also serves to further pull away the mask, allowing the rest of the world to see what’s actually going on. So gather around, kids, because we’re not only seeing how socialism ends (and it always ends this way) but also how the socialist machinery operates through the various phases of its life cycle.

Originally, the government tolerates the presence of foreign manufacturing entities such as General Motors to fill needs they have which can’t be handled domestically. (GM has been there for roughly seven decades.) It’s not that the Venezuelan people are incapable of innovation or creation… there’s simply no motivation for them to strive for success. Anything they create simply becomes the property of the state anyway, so the hard working, innovative person doesn’t realize much more success than the guy who can barely keep his eyes open to show up for his job sweeping the sidewalk. There’s no point to being particularly innovative.

So companies such as GM are allowed to go to work. But once the system inevitably begins to implode, the tyrant in charge begins looking for new resources to grab. In the name of the socialist concept wherein everything “belongs to the people” he seizes the GM plant. They take the cars which are there to hand out to high ranking party officials and divide up the assets while demanding that the workers get back to producing automobiles. This is, of course, impossible because they don’t have the parts to do it and the people who actually know how to run things are fleeing.

These are the fruits of socialism. It’s a humanitarian disaster to be sure, but it’s also a teachable moment. Watch and learn.