Tag Archives: Venezuela

Shocking Footage: Venezuelan National Guard Truck Drives Through Crowd Of ‘Dissidents’

For several weeks Venezuela has been rocked with protests and riots as the Maduro regime increasingly tightens its grip on the population. It seems as if security forces are brutally cracking down on dissidents on a daily basis now.

Take a look at what happened yesterday in Caracas, after an armored vehicle owned by the Venezuelan National Guard caught fire.

So the communists are protesting the troops of the socialist Maduro who are in fact driving the trucks. Is there a chapter in Marx’s book that foretells what happens next? ;-

Source: ZeroHedge

Why America Has A 2nd Amendment: Venezuela Plans To Give Firearms To Loyalists To Purge Growing Resistance

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After enduring shortages of food and medicine for years, as well as a total collapse of their currency, the people of Venezuela have had enough. Last week it was estimated that 2.5 million people marched against the Maduro regime, which had previously tried to strip away the powers of the opposition-led parliament. It’s estimated that as many as 6 million people may have taken to the streets to protest throughout the country.

In the lead-up to the protest, which had been planned for weeks by opposition political parties, President Maduro issued an alarming proclamation that didn’t receive nearly enough press. He promised to expand the nation’s armed militia, and hand out firearms to as many as 400,000 loyalists.

The Bolivarian militias, currently at approximately 100,000, were created by the late Hugo Chavez to assist the armed forces in the defense of his revolution from external and domestic attacks.

Speaking to thousands of militia members dressed in beige uniforms gathered in front of the presidential palace, Maduro said that vision remains relevant as Venezuela continues to face “imperialist aggression.”

“A gun for every militiaman!” he cried.

If you know your history of communist regimes, you understand what comes next. Maduro’s response to millions of hungry pissed off people, is to arm his die-hard supporters, who will be able to purge the starving masses that dared to cross him. They may not face much resistance, because in 2012 Venezuela banned private firearm ownership.

Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.

Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company.

Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.

The ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October

Venezuela saw more than 18,000 murders last year and the capital, Caracas, is thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.

Do you see how that works? Maduro’s socialist policies turned that country into a crime-ridden hell hole, (and eventually turned their capital city into the most violent in the world). Instead of abandoning their centrally planned economy, which would bring prosperity to all and lower the crime rate, Maduro took away everyone’s guns. Now that his socialist policies are bringing Venezuela’s population to brink of starvation and revolution, he decides to arm his violent and dimwitted loyalists. He has set up the perfect conditions for a genocidal purge of everyone who opposes him.

I’d say that this would be a fine lesson for any would-be socialists in this country, but they don’t seem eager to learn. Neither did many Venezuelans, who elected these control freaks nearly two decades ago. They could have looked at any socialist experiment from the 20th century, and realized that it always leads to starvation and mass murder. Instead they let themselves be conned by what is now the oldest and most deadly political trick in the book.

Source: ZeroHedge

Venezuela Seizes General Motors Car Plant

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While the US has a habit of invading or attacking sovereign nations any time the president’s approval rating dips below a certain threshold, Venezuela has a similar, if less dramatic mechanism to provide a brief boost to Maduro’s popularity: it nationalizes foreign plants on its soil.

It did so last July, when the country was once again suffocating under a wave of violent protests, when just hours after Kimberly-Clark said it will shutter its Venezuela operations after years of grappling with soaring inflation and a shortage of hard currency and raw materials, Venezuela retaliated by announcing it would seize the factory.

It did so again overnight, when General Motors said on Wednesday that Venezuelan authorities had illegally seized its plant in the industrial hub of Valencia; as a result the car maker said it would immediately halt operations in Venezuela.

“Yesterday, GMV’s (General Motors Venezolana) plant was unexpectedly taken by the public authorities, preventing normal operations. In addition, other assets of the company, such as vehicles, have been illegally taken from its facilities,” the company said in a statement.

The automaker said the seizure showed a “total disregard” of its legal rights. “[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.”

GM’s subsidiary in the country – General Motors Venezolana – has operated in Venezuela for nearly 70 years. It employs nearly 2,700 workers and has 79 dealers in the country. GM said it would make “separation payments” to its workers.

While the US car maker vowed to defend its rights, it has no chance of success of recouping its property under the current regime, which no longer recognize either local or international law. The seizure comes amid a deepening economic crisis in leftist-led Venezuela that has already roiled many U.S. companies.

GM said the seizure would cause irreparable damage to the company, its 2,678 workers, its 79 dealers and to its suppliers.

The seizure will hardly be of use to the Maduro regime as Venezuela’s car industry has been in freefall, hit by a lack of raw materials due to lack of foreign currency to fund imports and stagnant local production, with many plants are barely producing at all. Last month, according to official statistics, only several hundred cars were sold. 

GM is not the first US car maker to suffer the irrational wrath of Venezuela’s dictator: in early 2015, Ford wrote off its investment in Venezuela when it took an $800 million pre-tax write down. Others have been hit too, and as a result a growing number of US companies are taking their Venezuelan operations out off their consolidated accounts. ExxonMobil pulled the plug on its operations in Venezuelan in 2007 after former President Hugo Chavez attempted to nationalized one of its projects. The oil producer then took the government to court. Coca-Cola was forced to halt production of Coke and other sugar-sweetened beverages last year due to a sugar shortage.

Finally, for those seeking legal remedies, we have one word of advice – patience: Venezuela still faces around 20 arbitration cases over nationalizations under late leader Hugo Chavez.

Source: ZeroHedge

Scenes From The Venezuela Apocalypse: “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking For Food

Over the last several years we have documented with clockwork regularity Venezuela’s collapse into failed state status, which was cemented several weeks ago when news hit that “Venezuela had officially run out of money to print new money.”  At that point the best one could do was merely to step back and watch as local society and civilization turned on itself, unleashing what would ultimately turn into Venezuela’s own, sad apocalypse.

Last night we showed what Caracas, looks like this week:

As we wrote then these are simply hungry Venezuelans protesting that their children are dying from lack of food and medicine and that they do not have enough water or electricity. As AgainstCronyCapitalism added, this is a country with more oil than Saudi Arabia, and the government has stolen all the money and now they bottleneck peaceful protesters and threaten them with bombs (or haul them to prison and torture them).

As pure desperation has set in, crime has becomes inevitable. A man accused of mugging people in the streets of Caracas was surrounded by a mob of onlookers, beaten and set on fire, who published a pixeled-out but still graphic video of the man burning as mob justice is now the supreme arbiter of who lives and who dies:

“Roberto Fuentes Bernal, 42, was reportedly caught trying to mug passersby in the Venezuelan capital, and before police arrived at the scene, the crowd took the law into their own hands.” The video can be seen here.

Now, in the latest shocking development, Venezuela saw a new wave of looting this week that resulted in at least two deaths, countless wounded, and millions of dollars in losses and damages.

According to Panampost, on Wednesday morning, a crowd sacked the Maracay Wholesale Market in the central region of Venezuela.  According to the testimonies of merchants, the endless food lines that Venezuelans have been enduring to do groceries could not be organized that day.

As time went by, desperate Venezuelans grew anxious over not being able to buy food. Then they started jumping over the gates and stormed the supermarket.

“They took milk, pasta, flour, oil, and milk powder. There were 5,000 people” one witness told Venezuela outlet El Estímulo.

People from across the entire state came to the supermarket because there were rumors that some products not found anywhere else would be sold there.

As a result of the massive crowd, the authorities were unable to preserve the peace. “There were 250 people for each National Guard officer… lots of people and few soldiers. At least one officer was beat up because he tried to stop the crowd,” another source told El Estímulo.

Other food dispensaries run by the government were also looted by the people.

Far from the promised socialist paradise, as the massive group of people moved, an entrance gate collapsed under the weight of the crowd, leaving several wounded.

The image below shows a human stampede over rice.

Over the last two weeks, several provinces have hosted scenes of looting in pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and food delivery trucks. In several markets, shouts of “we are hungry!” echoed. On April 27, the Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) reported that the country’s food producers only had 15 days left of inventory.

PanamPost adds that lootings are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in Venezuela, as the country’s food shortage resulted in yet another reported incident of violence in a supermarket — this time in the Luvebras Automarket located in the La Florida Province of Caracas.

Venezuelans lost control this week when offered small portions

Videos posted to social media showed desperate people falling over each other trying to get bags of rice. One user claimed the looting occurred because it is difficult to get cereal, and so people “broke down the doors and damaged infrastructure.”

In the central province of Carabobo, residents ransacked a corn warehouse located in the coastal city of Puerto Cabello. They reportedly broke down the gate because workers were giving away small portions.

“There’s no rice, no pasta, no flour,” resident Glerimar Yohan told La Costa, “only hunger.”

* * *

Social Collapse Is Inevitable

With the economy dead, the only thing remaining is to watch as society implodes. To that end, Oscar Meza, Director of the Documentation Center for Social Analysis (Cendas-FVM), said that measurements of scarcity and inflation in May are going to be the worst to date. “We are officially declaring May as the month that [widespread] hunger began in Venezuela,” he told Web Noticias Venezuela. … “As for March, there was an increase in yearly prices due to inflation — a 582.9 percent increase for food, while the level of scarcity of basic products remains at 41.37 percent.”


“We are officially declaring May as the month that hunger began
in Venezuela,” says an NGO that measures inflation and scarcity

Meza said the trigger for the crisis is the shortage of bread and other foods derived from wheat.

“Prices are so high that you can’t buy anything, so people don’t buy bread, they don’t buy flour. You get porridge, you see the price of chicken go up and families struggle … lunch is around 1,500 bolivars… People used to take food from home to work, but now you can’t anymore because you don’t have food at home.”

The is why, Español Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food. “Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger.”

Subsquently, Muchacho warned that Caribbean islands and Colombia may suffer an influx of refugees from Venezuela if food shortages continue in the country.

“As hunger deepens, we could see more Venezuelans fleeing by land or sea to an island,” Muchacho said.

And that is how all socialist utopias always end.

* * *

Meanwhile, as civil war appears inevitable, as previously reported there are factions vying to oust Maduro, although we are confident the dictator will hang on for dear life (literally) and force his population to endure more of this socialist nightmare. One can only hope that these shocking scenes remain relegated to the streets of offshore socialist paradises, although Americans should always prepare for the worst in case they eventually manage to make their way into the country.

Source: ZeroHedge


Is A Venezuela Coup Imminent? An Interview With A National Guardsman

Following several very disturbing stories about the start of Venezuela’s social apocalypse, in the first case chronicling “Streets Filled With People Killing Animals For Food” and then last night documenting “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking For Food, we concluded that “as civil war appears inevitable, as there are factions vying to oust Maduro, although we are confident the dictator will hang on for dear life (literally) and force his population to endure more of this socialist nightmare.”

Today, now that speculation about a coup and/or civil war is becoming ever louder, we address some of these concerns courtesy of a must-read interview with a member of Bolivarian National Guard, the country’s national guardsmen, conducted by PanAm Post, which provides a critical blueprint of the next very tragic steps in Venezuela, which unfortunately now appear certainly to conclude with a national coup.

From PanAm Post:

Venezuela Is on the Brink of Social Collapse” National Guardsman

Food Shortages Cause Daily Looting, Energy Crisis Worsens as National State of Emergency Approaches

At the moment, the armed forces’ position vis-à-vis the government is not clear. Some speculate that the Bolivarian National Guard is divided. Others claim that the regime exerts full control over the Bolivarian National Guard’s members. The only certainty is that uncertainty abounds.

The PanAm Post had the opportunity to interview a Bolivarian National Guard member of middle rank, who asked to remain anonymous since his views could expose him to danger.

Why has the state launched an offensive against criminal groups?

The situation was getting out of hand for political reasons. The state has no means to control criminal groups. The country’s jails are in chaos. The streets themselves are in chaos. The state’s security personnel are unarmed.

The Maduro regime created the Organization for the Protection and Liberation for the People (OLP) to fight organized crime. Has that organization committed illegal acts as well?

From a legal standpoint, yes. Now from the point of view of the general population, no, because they tolerate harsh methods against the criminal bands.

But do they only kill criminals?

In the majority of cases.

Is the OLP really carrying out its operations strictly to end gang violence?

That is their main purpose. But there is also a political element. The OLP’s creation was a desperate measure. The government had given liberty to the gangs to do what they please. They armed them and now they are attacking them.

Is the OLP at war with gangs and with government officials at the same time?

Yes, because they can’t control them. They have become too powerful. They are armed and they teach military strategy. These criminals used to fight against each other. Now they have a truce between them and they fight the military and other security forces. They say, “as long as we kill them, we’ll survive.”

Does the state benefit by arming gangs? What is the regime trying to achieve?

Their goal is to have armed groups on their side in case of political turmoil. That is the final goal. Disarmament laws only affect innocent people. Criminal have many more weapons than we do at the National Guard. They also have much more power. We can’t control that now. Any solution will come too late.

The economic crisis and the public health crisis are becoming uncontrollable. The security forces are competent, but the government had to realize that the criminals were killing us all before they acted against them.

How corrupt is is the National Guard?

There is corruption in the National Guard, and there always has been. The difference is that, before, the system was more efficient. The National Guard decayed when it became political. Since we started to vote and to take part in the country’s political life, there has been no peace in the ranks.

Now there is pressure on us because we have to follow the constitution, but we also have to be loyal to our higher officers even when their orders don’t correspond to the laws. If their orders contradict the laws, you can’t follow them. So there is a rift between the security forces and the other institutions.

The government has an apparatus for persecution and espionage, so you can’t make negative statements about functionaries. The security services themselves are plagued by informants. You have to watch your every word.

All of those military upheavals denouncing the government, those attempts to overthrow the government — are they real?

No, the majority are false. There won’t be any coup attempts in Venezuela.

Why not?

Right now, all elements of the armed forces are under control. A coup-d’état takes place when you reach a breaking point and someone in the higher echelons of the armed forces decides that it’s time to act against the government. Right now in Venezuela, there are political divisions within the armed forces. There is neither the necessary unity nor the necessary organization for a coup to take place. Besides, officers fear the government’s informants. Everyone is on guard.

What will result from the current discontent?

The army and the National Guard are waiting. I can assure you that we are quite unhappy. But there is an entire structure above us, so it’s not easy to act. We receive criticism from all sides. Wherever I go, I come face to face with civilians’ displeasure and complaints. I also think the opposition has failed to take advantage of its opportunities to topple the government.

How so?

For example, when they won the parliamentary elections last December, the atmosphere was tense. The entire leadership knew what would happen. So did we. Former Speaker of the House Diosdado Cabello was willing to take the armed forces to the street against the opposition, but Padrino López, the Minister of Defense, didn’t allow him to do so.

What happened exactly on December 6?

The stories are true. That day there was a strong discussion between Padrino López and Cabello. López told Cabello that, if he ordered the troops to take the streets, he was going to have the army kill him.

But did Padrino López only do it to save his own skin?

Of course. He would have been responsible if the army started to massacre people. López was not going to allow that to happen. So that day the army was ordered to guard the opposition.

On whose side does Padrino López find himself? That day, a rumor got out that he was defending Chávez’s revolution.

Padrino López is intelligent, and I don’t doubt that he’s a chavista. But all branches of the armed forces are dissatisfied with the current situation. Imagine if one day they let Diosdado Cabello commit a massacre. If something like that occurs, the army will support President Maduro.

And what has the Bolivarian National Guard done during the recent demonstrations? Why has the army remained silent?

Those are two different situations. Like I said, government intelligence is an obstacle to action. The risk of not obeying orders is very large, but there is a lot of discontent and resentment due to the measures carried out by the Bolivarian National Guard and other officials.

If discontent is so widespread, why is there no talk of a coup?

That’s already been discussed. The coup d’état, we hope, will not be repeated. We remember what happened in 2002 with Chávez and we don’t want something similar to happen in the future.

We are rather waiting for things to get truly out of hand. And that will happen in the following months. The situation is extremely unstable and the status quo can’t last. We are witnessing daily looting at supermarkets, and people are protesting.

The crisis at Guri Dam (Venezuela’s most important hydroelectric power station) will get worse. Everything will get worse and there will be an implosion.

At that moment, the country’s future will be determined. I don’t believe there’s much time left.

Are you sure that something drastic will happen soon?

Without a doubt. The Bolivarian National Guard has already discussed the matter.

The situation in Venezuela has never been as bad as it is now. The breaking point is near, but still not at hand. My recommendation is for people to prepare, to look for food and then to store it. Obviously, when the implosion occurs , it won’t last long. I believe it will last something like 10 days, but they will be difficult days.

There will be a state of emergency, and that will bring the crisis to an end.

What will happen with the recall referendum that the opposition is trying to unleash against President Maduro?

That’s not a serious option. The regime has demonstrated that it can violate the constitution without second thoughts. They are going to accept the referendum, but only if they know they can win with any method available. The situation will only come to a head when hunger and the lack of electricity force people to take direct action.

So are the Armed Forces ready for a social catastrophe to take place?

We are really willing to intervene if the country undergoes a social catastrophe. It’s as if we have water in a pot and it begins to boil very slowly. There will be a moment when, if the gas is not turned off, the water begins to overflow and disaster ensues.

Source: ZeroHedge

“It’s Pure Chaos Now; There Is No Way Back” – Venezuela Morgues Are Overflowing (video)

When we previewed Venezuela’s upcoming hyperinflation, which in January was predicted to be 720% and as of this moment is likely far higher…


… we said “This Is What The Death Of A Nation Looks Like” and said “there is no good news in any of the above for the long-suffering citizens of this “socialist paradise” which any minute now will be downgraded to its fair value of “socialist hell.

Subsequent news that Venezuela was now openly liquidating its gold reserves while its president, in an amusing twist, announced last week, that henceforth every Friday will be a holiday, (the term there was a slightly different meaning) to cut down on electricity usage (while blaming El Nino for its electricity rationing) merely confirmed that the end if nigh for this once flourishing Latin American nation.

Sadly, while we have been warning for years about Venezuela’s inevitable, economic devastation, we said it was only a matter of time before the chaos spreads to broader society and leads to total collapse.

That may have arrived because as even the FT now admits, after visiting the main Caracas morgue, Venezuela risks a descent into chaos.

But back to the morgue of central Caracas, where FT correspondent Andres Schipani writes that the stench forces everyone to cover their nostrils. “Now things are worse than ever,” says Yuli Sánchez. “They kill people and no one is punished while families have to keep their pain to themselves.

Ms Sánchez’s 14-year-old nephew, Oliver, was shot five times by malandros, or thugs, while riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle. His uncle, Luis Mejía, remarked that in a fortnight three members of their family had been shot, including two youths who were shot by police.

Sounds a little like Chicago on a Friday… only in Venezuela things are even worse: “an economic, social and political crisis facing Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s unpopular president, is being aggravated by a rise in violence which is prompting fears that this oil-rich country risks becoming a failed state.”

Even the morgue employees are asking if they should give up.

“What can we do?” Mr Mejía asks. “Give up.” The morgue employee in charge of handling the corpses notes that a decade ago he received seven or eight bodies every weekend. These days, he says, that number has risen to between 40 and 50: “This is now wilder than the wild west.

Critics say that the Venezuelan government is increasingly unable to provide citizens with water, electricity, health or a functioning economy which can supply basic food staples or indispensable medicines, let alone personal safety.

In other words, total socioeconomic collapse. This is what it looks like:

Last month alone, Venezuelans learned of the summary execution of at least 17 gold miners supposedly by a mining Mafia, the killing of two police officers allegedly by a group of students who drove a bus into a barricade, and a hostage drama inside a prison at the hands of a grenade-wielding criminal gang. On Wednesday, three policemen were killed when an armed gang busted a member out of a lock-up in the capital.

At least 10 were killed in a Caracas shanty town after a confrontation between local thugs armed with assault rifles, while a local mayor was gunned down outside his home in Trujillo state last month. There are widespread reports of lynchings.

All this is creating a broad unease that Mr Maduro is unable to maintain order… There is a lack of basic goods. Analysts warn that the economic crisis risks turning in to a humanitarian one.

Some refuse to acknowledge that a state erected on so much oil wealth can be a failed state:

“Failed state is a nebulous concept often used too lightly. That’s not the case with today’s Venezuela,” says Moisés Naím a Venezuelan distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The evidence of state failure is very concrete in the country that sits on top of the world’s largest oil reserves.”

Alas, a failed state is precisely what Venezuela has become: Venezuela is already one of the world’s deadliest countries. The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, a local think-tank, says the murder rate rose last year to 92 killings per 100,000 residents. The attorney-general cites a lower figure of 58 homicides per 100,000. This is up from 19 per 100,000 in 1998, before Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez took power.

It gets worse, because in addition to a soaring murder rate, the government itself is implicated.

“Venezuelans are facing one of the highest murder rates in the hemisphere and urgently need effective protection from violent crime,” said José Miguel Vivanco HRW’s Americas director. “But in multiple raids throughout the country, the security forces themselves have allegedly committed serious abuses.”

Their findings show that police and military raids in low-income and immigrant communities in Venezuela have led to widespread allegations of abuse, including extrajudicial killings, mass arbitrary detentions, maltreatment of detainees, forced evictions, the destruction of homes, and arbitrary deportations.

And like all other failed governments, Maduro’s administration is quick to deflect blame, instead accusing violence within its borders on Colombian rightwing paramilitaries “engaged in a war against its revolution.” But as David Smilde and Hugo Pérez Hernáiz of the Washington Office on Latin America, a think-tank, recently wrote: “Attributing violence in Venezuela to paramilitary activity has been a common rhetorical move used by the government over the past year, effectively making a citizen security problem into a national security problem.”

For many Venezuelans it no longer matters who is to blame. “It is a state policy of letting anarchy sink in,” says a former policeman outside the gates of a compound in Caracas.

The FT adds that the former police station now houses the Frente 5 de Marzo, one of the political groups that consider themselves the keepers of socialism’s sacred flame. The gates bear the colours of the Venezuelan flag and are marked with bullet holes. The man believes there is something akin to a civil war going on.

Venezuela is pure chaos now. It seems to me there is no way back,” the former policeman says.  He is right.

* * *

And since words can not fully do a failed state justice, here is a video clip from Jeff Berwick showing the reality on the ground in the country where “socialism’s sacred flame” is about to go out for good … WATCH what’s really going on in Caracas !

Bernie Sanders Praising Bread Lines and Food Rationing

source: ZeroHedge

Venezuela: the land of 500% inflation

Ex-Chavez Bodyguard to Testify that Venezuela’s Socialist Gov is a Drug Cartel

https://reclaimourrepublic.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/fed-money.jpg?w=625Source: Reclaim Our Republic

Venezuela’s economy has been hit by low oil prices, but the regime has something to fall back on.

Leamsy Salazar, who had previously worked for late President Hugo Chávez’s security detail, is currently in Washington, where he is expected to provide witness testimony implicating Mr. Cabello in organizing cocaine-smuggling operations controlled by Venezuela’s military, two people familiar with the matter said.

Both people said the end goal is an indictment against Mr. Cabello on drug charges. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment, while officials at the State Department didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

Diosdado Cabello is the president of Venezuela’s national assembly and vice-president of the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV). Leamsy Salazar arrived in the country on January 26 accompanied by agents belonging to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

An post shared on Twitter by Ramón Pérez-Maura, an ABC journalist covering the case, stated that Salazar’s testimony had also linked Cuba with the country’s narcotrafficking trade, “offering protection to certain routes along which drugs were brought to Venezuela from the United States.”

Maybe Castro won’t need Obama’s money after all. Or maybe he will.

Given his background, Salazar certainly ought to be in the know. Prior to turning state’s witness, he spent over a decade as the head of Hugo Chávez’s personal security detail and sometime personal assistant; a YouTube video currently making the rounds on Venezuelan social media even shows El Comandante singing Salazar’s praises on TV. Following the death of Chávez in early 2013, Salazar was reassigned to Cabello, whom he is prepared to depict in court, according to ABC, as the capo di tutti capi of the “Soles” narcotics cartel.

The Soles cartel, named for the sun emblem embroidered on high-ranking Venezuelan military uniforms, is an alleged drug trading organization nested inside the armed forces. No one has ever managed to quite confirm its existence, though accounts of it have long circulated in the Caracas rumor mill (which, however unreliable, is the main alternate source of information for most Venezuelans now that censorship and state control have subdued the press).

Today, give or take President Nicolás Maduro himself, Cabello is widely considered the most powerful individual in post-Chávez Venezuela.

I doubt the State Department is too happy about this, but if the case moves further, the Maduro regime loses its last shreds of legitimacy. The question is will the investigation be pursued up the ladder into Cuba. And was this part of why Cuba was getting fuel freebies from Chavez?

This Chart Makes It Look Like It’s All Over In Venezuela

Supporter of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez holds a doll of him as she stands outside a military academy where the funeral ceremony for Chavez is held, in Caracas March 8, 2013.  Article source: Business Insider

Collapsing oil prices have a turned a difficult economic situation into a dire one. Oil exports brought in 60% of the country’s revenue.

And now, according the UBS, Venezuela has an 82% chance of collapsing within a year. The country will no longer be able to make payments to foreign investors without oil revenue as it was.

Economist Rafael del Fuente wrote in a recent note:

By the government’s own recognition, the economy contracted by 4% in the first three quarters of 2014;
inflation is running at close to 65%; the fiscal deficit has shot up above 15% of GDP by most estimates; and the black market exchange rate is trading at VEF180 to the dollar, almost 30 times higher than the official Cencoex rate.

Wall Street is watching and waiting, which is why the spread on Venezuela’s 5 year credit default swap — basically debt insurance — has spiked. You just don’t see charts like this everyday people.

Meanwhile, as foreign investors wait for the day Venezuela calls them and says, ‘sorry, we don’t have the cash’, ordinary Venezuelans suffer. The government cut them loose a while ago, doing nothing to curb rampant inflation (at 60%) and shortages of goods and food. People wait in line for days to enter grocery stores with empty shelves.

venezuelan cds skitch

On hearing this, the Venezuelan Minister of Food said — “I’ve been in tons of lines. I went to my favorite sports team’s game this weekend, and…I went to go buy an arepa [Venezuelan sandwich] … and I had to wait in line there, too.”