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Westlake Legal Group > Venezuela

Shocking Video: Venezuelans Talk About Suffering Under Socialism as “The Squad” Talks Lovingly About It

Westlake Legal Group alexandria-ocasio-cortez-pointing-SCREENSHOT-620x348 Shocking Video: Venezuelans Talk About Suffering Under Socialism as “The Squad” Talks Lovingly About It Venezuela The Squad socialism Politics Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Bernie Sanders AOC Allow Media Exception Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The vast majority of Americans have never had to live under socialism and thank the good Lord above for that, but it has had the unintended effect of romanticizing it to various parts of our nation. This includes people in our own government, specifically the foursome known as “The Squad.”

Asking Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib both consider socialism to be one of the most fabulous things since sliced bread lines and speak lovingly of the economic system during interviews. What’s more, many in America are seduced by the promise of “equality,” and the “fairness” of “free” things for everyone.

Thanks in part to media, activists, and politicians like those in “The Squad,” socialism has come off as a solution to all of societies ills. History tells a different story. In reality, socialism is a rot that infects and then destroys countries. It’s an economic system that, once taken from paper and put into action, begins to ruin economies and kill people.

Right now, this is most notable in Venezuela, a country that should be a wealthy world power for all intents and purposes, but thanks to socialism is collapsing before our eyes. With a year round growing season and more oil reserves than an oil baron could dream of, Venezuela has everything it needs to be an economic powerhouse, but thanks to socialism its a country of riots, starvation, and disease.

The Daily Caller went to Venezuela to talk to those living under socialism, and the results were shocking. Things we take for granted in the United States are things that people in Venezuela may be killed over. You may wait in line overnight for a loaf of bread, only to get to the front of the line and find out that there isn’t anymore. You may be riding your bike down the street and get shot multiple times just so someone else can have it.

In part of the video, a man had been shot in front of the Daily Caller crew and the police just walked by.

Meanwhile, AOC, Sen. Bernie Sanders and more speak of socialism as successful in other parts of the world.

We always hear about how the socialism that failed in other countries wasn’t “true socialism” but that’s just an excuse to explain an undeniable truth. Humanity and socialism can never coexist. We aren’t made for that kind of system by nature, and forcing it on a species that can’t fit with it will only destroy it. If we can’t glean that from Venezuela, and we continue to embrace it, the United States will come to resemble Venezuela in some form or fashion.

The post Shocking Video: Venezuelans Talk About Suffering Under Socialism as “The Squad” Talks Lovingly About It appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Venezuela-300x169 Shocking Video: Venezuelans Talk About Suffering Under Socialism as “The Squad” Talks Lovingly About It Venezuela The Squad socialism Politics Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Bernie Sanders AOC Allow Media Exception Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Venezuela still trying to negotiate Maduro out of office?

Westlake Legal Group Maduro Venezuela still trying to negotiate Maduro out of office? Venezuela The Blog Nicolas Maduro Juan Guaido coup

The situation in Venezuela has mostly returned to its normal, dismal, awful state of decay since the failed effort to oust dictator Nicolas Maduro earlier this year. But behind the scenes, the opposition party that controls the National Congress is still attempting to achieve the same goal through non-violent means. Earlier negotiations between the two sides hosted in Norway last month failed to produce any concrete results, but now the talks have moved to Barbados. This next round also has yet to deliver any sort of agreement, but reports indicate that the opposition is trying to sweeten the deal a bit, perhaps going so far as to accept Maduro remaining in office until elections can be held. (Washington Post)

Publicly, the sides remain far apart. The Venezuelan government insists that U.S. and other international sanctions must be lifted, while opposition officials are demanding new and verifiable presidential elections and an end to what they call the “Maduro dictatorship.”

But privately, senior members of the opposition are internally debating an offer that some argue might help break the deadlock: the possibility that Maduro could temporarily remain in the presidency as new elections are mounted, if certain conditions are met. Some are even floating the notion that Maduro could run for reelection, calculating that his approval ratings are so low he has next to no chance of winning a free and fair race.

I’m all for a way to end the collapse of Venezuela without anyone having to go to war, but I think you have to be a bit skeptical about how these negotiations are playing out and the demands currently on the table. In terms of Maduro’s regime, they’re not offering much more than amnesty for the “enemies” of his government. And in return, they’re asking for U.S. and international sanctions to be lifted. I’m not sure if the tyrant realizes it, but the opposition party can’t lift those sanctions. They can ask the rest of the world to do so, but why would we when we get nothing in return?

It’s probably a sign of desperation on the part of the opposition that they’re putting so much on the table. Allowing Maduro to remain in office until the next elections would be generous indeed if they actually had a way to remove him if he refuses. But they already tried that and it didn’t work. Allowing him to run for another term is even trickier. They’re claiming that Maduro is so unpopular that he couldn’t possibly win another term in “a free and fair race.”

I don’t doubt that theory at all. But you’re assuming that it’s still possible to have a free and fair race in Venezuela. Maduro wasn’t very popular in the runup to the last elections but he still mysteriously found a way to win. And when one of the races in the next round of regional elections didn’t go his way, he invalidated it and made them do it over until he got the result he wanted. You’re dealing with a dictator who has absolutely no intention of giving up power.

Trying to cut a deal with Maduro’s government at this point seems like an exercise in futility. If he trades amnesty for everyone accepting him as president until the next elections, he can always revoke the amnesty later. (Or have his hand-picked judges on the Supreme Court do it for him.) And if it’s his government organizing and running the elections, well… you might consider just moving to Colombia as millions of others have already done.

The post Venezuela still trying to negotiate Maduro out of office? appeared first on Hot Air.

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She Was Duped and Shipped to a Brothel at 16. Then the Boat Sank.

CHAGUARAMAS, Trinidad and Tobago — She slipped out of the house around dusk, without telling her mother. Sixteen and hungry, she followed the men who had promised her work and food.

Instead, they smuggled her out of Venezuela by sea, secretly planning to force her into a Trinidad brothel.

Put in a fishing boat, the girl, Yoskeili Zurita, said she sped away with dozens of other women, including her cousin. But the overloaded skiff took on water fast — and capsized with the roll of a sudden swell.

Screams pealed across the water. Women cried out the names of children they had left behind. In the darkness, someone prayed.

“My cousin didn’t know how to swim. She looked at me and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” recalled Yoskeili, who spent two days clinging to the overturned hull in the strait between Trinidad and Venezuela before fishermen found her. She never saw her cousin again.

The boat sank with 38 passengers in late April, most of them women. Only nine people survived, among them Yoskeili and other women who the authorities now say were victims of a human smuggling ring.

The tragedy was shocking even in Venezuela, a nation accustomed to the ravages of a collapsing state, hunger, hyperinflation and rampant crime. For millions, survival means leaving, whatever the risk may be.

In the last four years alone, about four million people have abandoned the country, the United Nations estimates. They leave on foot, crossing a treacherous pass in the Andes Mountains. They sell their hair in plazas in border towns, huddle in refugee tents in Brazil and Colombia.

And they head off in leaky boats short on gas or spare parts — and sometimes get lost at sea.

As the women in Yoskeili’s boat fought to survive, their state was nowhere to be found. The government, crippled by corruption, mismanagement and American sanctions on its oil industry, told relatives the day after the wreck that it lacked even the fuel to mount a rescue. A state helicopter arrived four days late to join a search that had been left mainly to local fishermen.

And Venezuela’s National Guard likely played a hand in the deaths: Venezuelan prosecutors have charged two soldiers for being part of a criminal group that tried to smuggle the women to Trinidad.

Then in May, while the country was still coming to terms with the disaster, the tragedy repeated itself: Another smuggling boat sank into the waves with 33 passengers aboard, including at least three minors. Only the captain survived, disappearing before the police could question him.

“How can this be allowed to happen again?” said Salvador Díaz, whose daughter had been on the boat with Yoskeili, hoping to reach Trinidad, when it sank.

Yoskeili now passes days alone in her room, at times wondering why she survived when so many other women drowned at sea.

One of them, Carmen Lares, a single mother, first lost her job this year, then lost her 3-month-old baby to malnutrition at the start of April as food ran short. Now she is gone as well.

Yoskeili replays the night over and over in her mind, remembering the crash of the waves against the hull, the women who couldn’t swim and took off their clothes in the frantic hope that it would help them stay afloat, and the promises of the men taking her to Trinidad.

“They said when we got there, there would be plenty to eat,” she said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 4ca583f01bcf41adaa1d53197615f4c4-2-articleLarge She Was Duped and Shipped to a Brothel at 16. Then the Boat Sank. Yoskeili Zurita Venezuela Trinidad and Tobago smuggling Shortages prostitution Politics and Government Maritime Accidents and Safety Immigration and Emigration human trafficking Deaths (Fatalities) Corruption (Institutional) Caribbean Area

A half-empty supermarket in Cumana, Venezuela. As the economy has collapsed after years of corruption and mismanagement, shops have shut down and millions left the country.CreditAdriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

Mr. Díaz was slowly watching his family disappear.

First his younger son, a petroleum engineer, left to Brazil, crossing treacherous borderlands controlled by criminal groups. Suddenly his 22-year-old daughter, Oriana Díaz, was talking about smuggling herself into Trinidad.

He never imagined anything like this. Until recently, he had enjoyed a middle-class life as a public high school teacher. His other son was an accountant. The family used to vacation around the Caribbean, not flee there.

But food was in short supply. Domestic production had collapsed and the few imported foods on the shelves had become unobtainable ever since hyperinflation had destroyed his salary. His daughter was a single mother with two children to feed, ages 5-months-old and 2.

“I would leave the food for my wife and daughter, and I would go to sleep with none,” said Mr. Díaz. “This is what is happening in Venezuela, the parents stop eating to give food to our children, our grandchildren.”

So when Oriana said she would head to Trinidad to send money back to the family, her father felt he couldn’t object.

“I took her 2-year-old to the football field that was beside our house so he wouldn’t see his mother leave the house,” said Mr. Díaz.

In another part of town, Héctor Torres, recently penniless after he lost his job at a soda factory, was busy recruiting teenage girls for his first attempt at smuggling women to the island.

Mr. Torres tried to hide the true purpose of the journey, asking his sister, Eloaiza Torres, to take the women and girls into her house until the boat left.

“These are some female friends who are coming to Trinidad,” Ms. Torres recalled being told. She said the group included two minors.

Yoskeili said she was approached by a smuggler named Nano while she sat on her porch with two of her cousins. He gave her very little time to decide; the boat was leaving the next night and Nano — later identified by Venezuelan prosecutors as Dayson Alexander Alleyne, a 28-year-old now under arrest for human trafficking — promised plenty of food at the end of the journey.

Yoskeili didn’t tell her mother, fearing she might stop her, and confided only in her aging grandmother that she planned to go.

At 7 p.m., Nano arrived in a car, shoving Yoskeili inside and speeding off to a hotel where she was put into a room with other girls, she said.

“We’d been kidnapped,” she said. “They didn’t want anyone to see us.”

Evening fell on the Venezuelan fishing town of Güiria, where at the end of a pier a boatman prepared the skiff for the trip. Yoskeili’s fear became much more intense when she asked the other women what kind of work they would do on the island.

“All the girls on the boat said we were going to be prostitutes,” she said.

Others were just as surprised. Yubreilis Merchán, a hair stylist, believed she was being taken to see her mother in Trinidad. But women and girls kept being loaded aboard.

Yubreilis Merchán, 22, a survivor, recalled passengers’ fears of overloading the boat. “We were saying: ‘There’s water coming in the boat,’ and the boatman just said this was normal,” she said.CreditAdriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

“We were so many. We were saying, ‘There’s water coming in the boat,’ and the boatman just said this was normal,” she recalled, adding that the women at first tried to bail out the boat as they were crowded on.

Packed with 38 people, heavy motors, suitcases and contraband merchandise, the boat — named the Jhonnailys José — finally took off around sunset, April 23. The night was clear in Venezuela. A quarter moon was set to rise after 10:30 p.m., which would help the boatman see along the roughly 45-mile route.

But the waves were getting rough. Some smashed into the hull, and the boat came down with a thud down over large swells.

Then the motor went dead.

Without power, the Jhonnailys José was tossed, turning perpendicular against the waves. One overtook the boat, crashing inside. The boatman fumbled with a backup motor and the boat lurched.

“We started to scream, ‘We are going to sink!’” recalled Ms. Merchán.

Terrified, the passengers forced him to turn back for Venezuela with the backup motor as the boat continued to take on water. The women threw suitcases into the sea and bailed out water with their shoes.

It was too late. The water had engulfed the boat. It sank into the waves before flipping over.

“I thought of my daughters: I have three girls, one that’s 5, another 3, another who turned 7-months-old the day that I left,” Ms. Merchán said. “We were in a state of total desperation.”

She tried to hold onto a gas canister, but it leaked fuel that burned her face. A smuggler barked orders while some of the women who couldn’t swim crawled on top of the ones who could, in a frenzied attempt to breathe, Ms. Merchán said.

In the pandemonium, she saw one woman trying to escape the rest.

“I said, ‘Where are you headed?’” she asked. The woman signaled toward a rocky outcrop in the straits.

Lifted by a current, the two women pushed away from the capsized boat, holding hands under the water so as not to lose one another as the voices of their fellow passengers grew distant. After a long time, they heard the sound of surf beating against the rocks of Patos Island.

Ms. Merchán waded ashore, exhausted. Her mind suddenly flashed to her friend Yocelys Rojas, whom she had left behind at the boat.

Before they had set off that night, her friend was itching to share some news about her family back in Venezuela. But the loud motor had drowned out her voice, and Ms. Rojas was saving the story for the other side.

“She disappeared and I will never know what she was going to tell me,” said Ms. Merchán.

Fisherman resting in La Playita, in Güiria, Venezuela, at a dock frequently used to travel to Trinidad.CreditAdriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

In Trinidad, a bar owner in the capital, Port of Spain, got word that the women never made it to shore.

He had paid $300 to the smugglers to take one of the women to his bar, where she would work as a prostitute, he said. He had also paid a bribe to members of the Trinidadian Coast Guard so that they would not stop the boat, he said.

But no one showed up that night, said the bar owner, who asked that his name be withheld to discuss details of the crime.

Venezuelan radio had begun reporting the shipwreck. But as is often the case in Venezuela, where blackouts are rampant, there was no electricity in much of Güiria that day.

Mr. Díaz, the teacher whose children were steadily leaving for uncertain futures abroad, was sitting with his grandchildren outside to escape the heat when his phone rang.

“They said that the boat my daughter was on had flipped,” he said.

Mr. Díaz went to the harbormaster’s office. Dozens of other relatives of the missing had gathered to check on the search for survivors.

But nothing had begun.

“They said there was no gasoline,” Mr. Díaz said.

His anger rising, Mr. Díaz went to the Coast Guard office, which told him it hadn’t been authorized to perform a search, he said. Relatives of other victims say they had also been dismissed, encouraged to find fuel to mount their own improvised rescues with local fishermen.

The town mayor arrived, saying a helicopter would arrive, residents said. It didn’t come until four days later, they said.

Mr. Díaz stayed up all night, working his phone to see if any fishing boat could search for his daughter, Oriana. Sometime after midnight, he got word from his son-in-law that a boat was available.

But when he arrived at the pier at 3 a.m., he discovered the boat had neither fuel nor motor oil. Frantically, Mr. Díaz searched the town but could find only oil. Eventually, someone found gasoline, but just five gallons, not enough to get them back to land.

It was sunrise on April 25, two days after the boat capsized. Even though Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, the government vessels were still short on gasoline. Fishermen used their own money to mount the search.

Drivers waiting in traffic and road blocks in the Venezuelan state of Sucre, where gas shortages are commonplace and affect everything from transportation to cooking.CreditAdriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

One man returning from a rescue attempt told Mr. Díaz that they had found only bodies in the water, which they had loaded onto a boat headed back to Venezuela.

“My heart crumpled,” Mr. Díaz said.

Out on Patos Island, Ms. Merchán was desperately seeking help.

After wading ashore, she had seen fishing vessels passing, but none had stopped. She was exhausted and could barely scream. At night she could see lights she believed were those of search vessels.

“We went on our knees, we prayed to God, screaming,” she said.

Ms. Merchán and the others took a risk, entering the water again to navigate the surf until they found a rocky outcrop that was more visible.

It was the right decision. Shortly after, a fishing boat pulled up with her husband and several other relatives looking for the victims.

“I just cried and cried,” she said.

In another part of the straits, Yoskeili said she had begun to hallucinate as she floated in the water, at one point thinking she had reached land.

She eventually fell unconscious floating near other passengers, as some were swept farther out to sea by currents. Two days later, she said she could feel the thudding of an engine in the water. A rescue boat arrived and dragged her aboard.

Back on shore, Mr. Díaz was convinced that his daughter had died.

But the same day the women were found alive on Patos Island, an ambulance with more survivors whooshed by. A fishing boat had found his daughter, Oriana, in the water, still breathing, near the wreckage.

“A boy said, ‘Professor, your daughter is here,’” Mr. Díaz said.

Oriana sat in the hospital bed, with gashes in her arms, her face and lips so burned from her days in the sun that she could hardly speak. She had no pants, having lost them at sea.

“She could have been missing an arm or a leg, but my daughter was alive,” said Mr. Díaz. He put a blanket around her as she asked for water.

“Just to think of this once more is to feel this agony and to know how one will never forget these times,” he said.

A television showing a soap opera in front of an empty chair in the Velásquez’s home in Cumana, Venezuela.CreditAdriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

For Omar Velásquez, whose 15-year-old daughter, Omarlys, was aboard the boat that night, there was no reunion in the hospital, only the hurt that she hadn’t told him why she left — and the grief that she never appeared again.

On a recent day, he mulled over the many unanswered questions. How did an overloaded boat smuggling dozens of women manage to leave the port undetected by Venezuela’s Coast Guard? Why was there no fuel for the government rescue boats, and why was no aerial search mounted for days?

And above all, he asked: Would there ever be justice for what happened?

“There was a deep complicity of the government that was behind this,” said Mr. Velásquez.

Carlos Valero, a lawmaker in Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, points to the arrests of the two national guardsmen as evidence that government employees played a hand in the smuggling ring. But an investigation he opened last month has gone nowhere, he said, blocked by the country’s ruling party.

Mr. Valero has focused his attention on Trinidad, where he says he has gathered evidence that Coast Guard and immigration officials were paid about $100 for each woman aboard the boat — payments to allow them to enter. Answers from the authorities in Trinidad have also been hard to come by, he said.

“It’s like these people don’t exist,” he said of the victims.

In Port of Spain, the bar owner who said he was bringing one of the women aboard the boat continues his business unperturbed. One night in May, at the bar he runs in the capital, he flipped through pictures of underage Venezuelan girls on a cellphone, sent to him over the messaging service WhatsApp.

He explained the arrangement he had with the Venezuelan women conscripted to work under him: He pays a fee to the boatman for their passage, confiscates their passports and returns them only after the women paid several times what he spent to have them smuggled, he said.

The arrangement worked with the help of the Port of Spain police and the Trinidadian Coast Guard, both of which received payments, he said.

The Trinidad government did not respond to written questions or requests for comment. Three commercial boat owners in Trinidad and a fourth in Venezuela confirmed that they had either made payments to smuggle prostitutes from Venezuela, or had witnessed such payments by other boatmen bringing women to Trinidad.

At the Port of Spain bar, police officers approached the owner, in plain view of several Venezuelan women who worked under him, and greeted him in front of a reporter.

“These are my friends, I know them well,” the owner said of the officers, smiling.

Relatives of the suspects in the human trafficking ring said their family members had been falsely accused by the surviving women; none of those jailed could be reached through the Venezuelan prison system.

For all his anger, Mr. Díaz now seemed most consumed by the question that had led his daughter to leave: How to get food. Hyperinflation has continued. The food shortages remain. And no one in the family has dared to cross the waters again.

“We had big hopes for her,” he said of his daughter, Oriana. “She would be able to support all of us in Trinidad.”

He took a deep breath and added: “But the cure was worse than the sickness.”

The sun setting over La Playita, in Güiria, Venezuela.CreditAdriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

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New Report: Democracy has crumbled in Venezuela

Westlake Legal Group Maduro-constitution New Report: Democracy has crumbled in Venezuela Venezuela The Blog rule of law Nicolas Maduro democratic socialism

The title of the new report issued by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is “No room for debate.” It’s intended the formally recognize the way in which Venezuela has stopped being a functional democracy in the last few years. The opposition to socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro became clear in 2015 when the opposition party took over the National Assembly, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Congress.

“The focus of this report is on the usurpation of the authority of the legislative by the government in Venezuela. This comes after the judiciary was taken over,” he told a news briefing.

“It seems quite clear that in response to the loss of direct support in the legislative assembly, the government decided to completely trample on the principle of the rule of law really and separation of powers,” he said.

Back in 2017, Maduro announced plans to rewrite the country’s constitution, something that his predecessor Hugo Chavez had also done. In order to create this new constitution, he planned to create a Constituent Assembly to help decide its outlines. The Constituent Assembly was effectively a replacement for the National Assembly but one that was designed to be loyal to Maduro. The ICJ report notes that since the creation of the assembly they have achieved precisely nothing:

Rafael Chavero Gazdik, a professor of constitutional law at Universidad Central de Venezuela, said that the new body had not produced any work on a new draft charter.

“Basically it is a body that is helping the President to do whatever he wants without the rule of law,” he said.

“After two years we have not seen in Venezuela a single draft of any article for a new Constitution – not a single one.”

It’s worth noting that the opposition knew this was a naked power grab back when it happened and refused to participate in the process. That just made it easier for Maduro to stack the deck.

But don’t expect this report to have much impact on the socialist dead-enders in Venezuela. According to the pro-regime Venezuela Analysis site, a group of 100 socialists just held a conference on a “Chavista Overcoming of the Crisis.” The conclusion these geniuses have reached is that they need more socialism:

“Chavista Radicalisation. We contend that radicalisation means returning to Chávez by fighting for his radical legacy in the face of the way the leadership makes use of his name. Returning to Chávez is also rescuing to a way of doing politics from the grassroots and from the territory. This process should go hand in hand with solving the problems of the population and building common horizons.”

When millions of people are already starving, clearly something has to change but these die-hards are never going to identify the real problem. Their current plan is to re-found Chavismo. What does that actually mean? It’s not really clear. You can listen to videos of the participants in this conference and nothing they are saying really seems to get to the level of the problem, i.e. no food and no medicine. A commitment to socialism allows for the critique of everything under the sun except for the one thing that actually needs to be reassessed the most: socialism. The project has failed spectacularly but the theorists are still arguing there’s some flavor of real socialism that hasn’t been tried yet.

The post New Report: Democracy has crumbled in Venezuela appeared first on Hot Air.

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UN Report: Maduro is using extrajudicial executions, torture to retain power in Venezuela

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A UN report presented today says that since the start of 2018 more than 6,800 people have been killed by Venezuelan security forces while resisting arrest. The report cites interviews with hundreds of victims’ relatives and concludes that Venezuelan police are staging crime scenes and using torture against political opponents. From the BBC:

Its most damning findings relate to the number of deaths the Venezuelan government has ascribed to resisting arrest.

That figure for last year was 5,287, with another 1,569 up to 19 May this year.

Referring to these figures as “unusually” and “shockingly” high, the report says: “Information analysed by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights suggests many of these killings may constitute extrajudicial executions.”

The UN says witnesses reported how the Special Action Forces (FAES) “manipulated the crime scene and evidence. They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had ‘resisted authority’”.

It adds that the UN “is concerned the authorities may be using FAES and other security forces as an instrument to instil fear in the population and to maintain social control”…

On accusations of torture it says detainees have been subjected to “one or more forms of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags, water boarding, beatings, sexual violence, water and food deprivation, stress positions and exposure to extreme temperatures”.

Back in February, a report from Reuters alleged that the National Police’s Special Action Force (FAES) was targeting protesters based on tips from government loyalists. The FAES would show up in the slums, pull people out of their homes and shoot them dead. Venezuela claimed these were efforts to round up gang members, but none of these cases ever ended in a trial. The victims are simply shot, often in the street. Why in the street? Because FAES wants everyone in the neighborhood to know what happens to those who oppose the government.

Maduro’s regime has issued an 11-page response to the UN report. The response takes issue with the idea there is a humanitarian crisis in the country and instead claims its problems are the result of economic sanctions by the US. There is a site which offers a communist take on what is happening in Venezuela called Venezuela Analysis. So far, the site hasn’t published a story about the UN report but it’s coming.

Of course, having the UN issue a report about what is happening won’t change things for victims of the Maduro regime. The only thing it will do is provide a further signal to the media that what is happening there is not simply an economic collapse but a violent dictatorship holding onto power by any means necessary.

The post UN Report: Maduro is using extrajudicial executions, torture to retain power in Venezuela appeared first on Hot Air.

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Maduro’s ex-spy chief is in Washington and he’s spilling the beans

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Here’s a surprise twist we didn’t see coming in the Venezuelan implosion saga. There’s a new visitor freshly arrived in Washington with some tales to tell and he probably knows plenty. His name is General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera and he was about as far into Venezuelan tyrant Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle as you could get. Until recently he ran the country’s highly feared secret police, the SEBIN. Before Maduro took power, Figuera spent a decade as the chief of security for his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. He reportedly studied his craft under communist spymasters in Castro’s Cuba. So this guy was on the inside.

But when Juan Guaido declared himself interim president and attempted to prod the military into revolt, Figuera jumped ship and backed Guaido. After the overthrow failed he went into hiding in Colombia, where he remained until now. But he’s in Washington and he’s ready to talk. (Washington Post)

And yet, when the U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced his uprising April 30 to oust Maduro, Figuera emerged as a surprise conspirator — and, as the uprising failed, a man suddenly sprinting for his life into the hands of U.S. operatives in neighboring Colombia.

After nearly two months in hiding here in the Colombian capital, protected around the clock by a security detail, Figuera arrived in the United States on Monday armed with allegations about Maduro’s government: The illicit gold deals. The Hezbollah cells working in Venezuela. The extent of Cuban influence inside Maduro’s Miraflores Palace.

The uprising failed, and Maduro remains in power. But Figuera doesn’t regret turning against his boss.

If you click through to the full story it will be worth your while. It’s a long tale of intrigue surrounding how Figuera was recruited for the opposition, soundling like it could have come straight out of a Brad Thor novel. But this is real world stuff. Figuera is revealing all sorts of details about Maduro’s corrupt gold transfer schemes, the presence of Hezbollah cells in Venezuela, the involvement of the Russians and Cuban military assets in the country.

But there’s a problem with hoisting Figuera upon the shoulders of Washington and praising him for turning on his old boss. As the head of the SEBIN, the man was in charge of a lot of beastly, dirty work, including torturing some of Maduro’s critics and making people “disappear.” He’s one of the targeted individuals who had personal sanctions placed on them by Trump. In short, in the middle of a viper’s nest of seriously bad dudes, this dude was among the worst.

I suppose you can forgive him a bit if he’s really dishing out a lot of intelligence that will help us going forward. But we also can’t afford to lionize him. Our new prize turncoat was a seriously bad man in Venezuela.

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WaPo tries to blame Venezuelan collapse on Trump

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No matter how far to the left much of the mainstream media may swing, I’ll confess to never having seen this one coming. At the Washington Post this week, Jackson Diehl pens an op-ed about the horrific conditions in Venezuela. Regular readers are already familiar with the tragic story because we cover it here every week. Four million refugees have now fled the country and are outstripping the humanitarian aid available in Colombia and other neighboring nations. The lack of food, potable water and medical supplies inside Venezuela literally has people falling down dead in the streets. Violence and starvation are rampant.

And who does Diehl predict will get the blame for all of this carnage? Why, Donald Trump, of course! Give these two paragraphs a gander and see if you can follow this “logic.”

The most plausible and most disturbing forecast was this: By December, an additional 1 million Venezuelans will pour into Colombia and other nearby countries — and the region will be unable to cope with them. The Trump administration will find itself facing demands that it mount some kind of intervention to stanch a crisis on the Venezuelan-Colombian border far worse than anything ever seen on the U.S.-Mexican frontier.

Meanwhile, the claim that the United States is responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe, now confined to the Maduro regime and the fringe left, will have gravitated to the mainstream. That’s because even though the ban on Venezuelan oil purchases that Trump rashly ordered in January failed to accomplish the goal of forcing regime change, it has had a devastating economic effect.

The title of this piece is literally, “The Venezuela crisis is going to get much worse — and Trump will get the blame.”

So let’s see if we’ve got this straight. The humanitarian crisis on the Venezuela-Colombia border is going to get so bad that the Trump administration will “face demands that it mount some kind of intervention.” Who exactly is going to be making these demands? (I mean, outside of the Washington Post, of course.) And what sort of intervention are we talking about? A military intervention? I think Colombia might have something to say about that, even assuming you could convince a majority of the American people that what we really need right now is another war, this time in South America.

Or perhaps you’re talking about a humanitarian intervention? There’s already been plenty of that going on. But you may recall that when the truckloads of food and other aid showed up at the border, Nicolas Maduro ordered tanks and trucks to block the bridge so it couldn’t be delivered.

Diehl then goes on to blame the chaos and starvation on Trump’s decision to sanction Venezuelan oil sales. You’ll recall that this action was taken in January of this year. Venezuela has been in a full-blown implosion for years now. And just for the record, there wasn’t much oil to block the sale of. The state oil company had long since been so badly looted by the corrupt government that they were barely able to produce anything and tankers were lined up in the harbors because the country couldn’t deliver on their promises or pay for things they had ordered.

Venezuela’s decline began with the ascent of Hugo Chavez and the socialist revolution. But it really accelerated when Maduro got hold of the reins of power. His rampant corruption, strongarm tactics and socialist policies have brought what was formerly one of the richest and most productive countries in South America to its knees. Its people are suffering because they live under the thumb of a tyrant. And unless you want us to invade the country (and take ownership of that disaster under the Pottery Barn Rule), there’s not a lot more we can do about it at the moment. The idea that you can somehow lay this disaster at the feet of President Trump is as laughable as it is insulting.

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Kristian Niemietz: How, and how not, to use the ‘V-word’ when debating the Left

Dr Kristian Niemietz is Head of Health and Welfare at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

A while ago, I took part in a panel discussion on the issue of “Millennial Socialism”. One of the speakers, who was broadly on my side of this argument, called for a self-imposed moratorium on the V-word: Venezuela.

Critics of socialism, he argued, had been banging on about Venezuela for too long, and they had to stop doing it. According to him, references to Venezuela were pointless, because they did not resonate with people. British people are interested in what’s going on in Britain, not Venezuela. They see such references as irrelevant at best, and as a lazy cop-out at worst.

As is usually the case with panel discussions, there was no time left to discuss this further. But as someone who does bang on about Venezuela rather a lot (I dedicated a chapter of my book Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies to it), I feel like I should address it.

I actually agree that the V-word can be overused. I agree that shouting “Venezuela!” can act as a mere rhetorical trump card against the Left, and a poor substitute for an actual argument. The fact that a number of key socialist policies have failed in Venezuela does not mean that the opposite of those policies is automatically right, or that all attempts to create a more equal society must always end up that way.

Nonetheless, a moratorium on the V-word would throw out the baby with the bathwater. So I’d like to suggest a little “how-to guide”, outlining when it is appropriate to bring up Venezuela in a discussion, and when it is not.

The main point to note is that Venezuela is an actual country, not a shorthand for “everything I don’t like about the Left”. It is a country that is in trouble for specific, identifiable reasons, not for being, somehow, generically, “too left-wing”. This sounds obvious when you put it like that, but deviations from this point are the main cause of V-word inflation.

So when somebody on the Left proposes to, for example, raise income tax, wealth taxes, or corporation tax, people on the pro-market side should not respond by shouting “Venezuela!”. Because that’s not what happened in Venezuela. Venezuela is not a high-tax economy, or at least, their tax burden is not what ruined them.

In the same way, if somebody on the Left proposes to hike the minimum wage, to abolish university tuition fees, or to ban zero-hour contracts, shouting “Venezuela!” is not the answer either. Those are bad ideas, sure. But those are not the ideas that destroyed Venezuela.

In short, we shouldn’t bring up Venezuela in a discussion of run-of-the-mill left-wing policies, which bear little relationship to anything that Chávez and/or Maduro did.

Furthermore, when somebody points out a genuine social problem in Britain, “Yeah but Venezuela!” is not much of a reply. Socialists are sometimes good at identifying problems, even if they are terrible at developing solutions. It is true that we have some of the highest housing costs in the world. It is true that our productivity performance, and as a result, wage growth, are poor, and have been poor for far too long. It is true that our welfare system is riddled with flaws, and often fails to support people who have fallen on hard times.

“It’s much worse in Venezuela, which is the system you lot want!” is not good enough. “It’s much better in capitalist countries X and Y – which is the system we should learn from” is more like it. So in such cases, it’s best to leave Venezuela out of it. Let “Venezuela” be a country, not a rhetorical all-purpose put-down.

That said – don’t declare that moratorium just yet. When prominent British socialists call for mass nationalisations, when they call for price controls and capital controls, when they deride the rule of law as a mere “bourgeois” construct that only serves “the elites” – then yes, it is absolutely fair to point out that this is exactly what happened in Venezuela. Here, we’re not talking about some allegorical “Venezuela”, but about the actual country, and about specific things that happened there. These are the very policies, and this is the very mindset, which turned what was once South America’s richest country into a basket case. This argument may not “resonate with people” – but it’s true.

Further to that: when socialists claim that “their” version of socialism will be completely different from any of its previous incarnations, that it will be genuinely democratic, empowering, grassroots-based and non-hierarchical – then it is fair to point that this is exactly what the Chavistas also used to say.

Some Western socialists are currently trying to convince themselves that Chávez and Maduro just never really aspired to a different kind of socialism, that authoritarian populism is all they ever wanted. This is fundamentally untrue, and Western socialists used to know this very well. The project of Venezuelan socialism started with the aspiration that this time would be different, that this time, “socialism” would not mean an all-powerful state controlling everything. It started with the aspiration that there could be completely different forms of collective ownership, which had nothing to do with the top-down nationalised industries of the past.

The appeal of Millennial Socialism rests on the delusion that the democratic, bottom-up socialism Millennial Socialists aspire to is a fundamentally novel aspiration, and that nobody in history has ever tried to build anything like this before.

But it is not a new aspiration. This was precisely what Chávez’s and Maduro’s “21st Century Socialism” was also about, which is why it used to be so popular in the West. A moratorium on the V-word would just play into the hands of those who now want to pretend that none of this ever happened, and that “Millennial Socialism” is novel, untried and untested.

So no, I absolutely won’t stop banging on about it, and if you don’t want to hear it, tough luck, because I’ll bore you with it anyway. We shouldn’t stop banging on about Venezuela until the Left stops banging on about socialism.

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Just in Time for 2020, Pence Helps Launch ‘Latinos for Trump’ in Miami — 1 Day Before the Dems Rip Each Other Apart

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Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is jonesin’ for Hispanic votes.

Therefore, “Latinos for Trump” is kickin’ off in Miami on June 25th — one day before the first of the Democratic debates.

On the 26th & 27th, 20 of the 23 determined Dems’ll battle it out (see all their late-term abortion positions here).

Oy. It’s gonna get ugly.

As for the stump for Trump, VP Mike Pence will be among the GOP officials in attendance.

Hanna Castillo — director of coalitions for Trump 2020 — told The Hill Donald’s Hispanic fans are instrumental in his continued occupancy of the White House (which will hilariously last thousands of years — see here):

“The strong Latino support for President Trump and his policies will be instrumental in re-electing the president for a second term.”

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of Hispanic voters in Florida nearly doubled — holy moly.

What are some of Trump’s “pro-Hispanic” policies that oughta make ’em swoon?

As noted by The Hill, a couple are low unemployment and the Commander-in-Chief’s support of crapped-up Venezueala’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó — Juan aims to replace President Nicolás I-ain’t-goin’-nowhere Maduro (here).

In addition, recently the Leader of the Free World insisted to Telemundo that legal Hispanics support his position on deporting illegals. Here’s a bit of that convo with anchor José Díaz-Balart:

“They want me to do it. They’re here illegally,” Trump said.

“Mr. President, they do not,” Díaz-Balart responded.

“They do,” Trump reiterated. “They don’t want to lose their jobs. They want to keep their salaries, their wages up, and they don’t want crime. When people come through, you have MS-13 coming through.”

Díaz-Balart pushed back, telling Trump MS-13 gang members do not make up the majority of migrants seeking to enter the U.S.

“The mothers that are coming with their children are not MS-13,” he said.

“I agree, but if it was 1 in 100 it’s too many,” Trump responded.

What do you think of Trump’s 2020 Hispanic appeal? And what do you expect in the upcoming debates? Let us all know in the Comments section.



Relevant RedState links in this article: herehere, and here

See 3 more pieces from me:

Brazil Makes Homophobia & Transphobia Illegal Under Racism Law, Punishable By Prison Time

Snide Illinois Senator Tells Her Concerned Gun-Owning Constituent: Maybe I’ll Just Confiscate Your Guns

South Carolina Woman Gets Pulled Over For Driving Drunk – In A Bad*** Toy Mini-Truck

Find all my RedState work here.

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In Venezuela, looters are stripping the dead in cemeteries

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I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve felt compelled to begin a column with the question, “how bad have things gotten in Venezuela?” But every time I think we’ve seen the conditions in that failed state hit rock bottom, Venezuela comes back and says, hold my beer. We already knew about the power outages, the lack of potable water, food and medical supplies. There’s been some looting during the protests here and there. But now, as the title of this piece indicates, things have hit a new low, both figuratively and literally. Looters are digging up graves in cemeteries where successful families bury their dead and stripping them of any jewelry or other valuables interred with the deceased. (Associated Press)

Even the dead aren’t safe in Maracaibo, a sweltering, suffering city in Venezuela.

Thieves have broken into some of the vaults and coffins in El Cuadrado cemetery since late last year, stealing ornaments and sometimes items from corpses as the country sinks to new depths of deprivation…

Much of Venezuela is in a state of decay and abandonment, brought on by shortages of things that people need the most: cash, food, water, medicine, power, gasoline.

The AP has a quote from José Antonio Ferrer, the caretaker of a cemetery in Maracaibo. He claims that thieves have been digging up the graves of prominent citizens, going to far as to pull the gold teeth out of the mouths of the corpses. That’s something beyond mere desperation.

Many of the residents of that city have reportedly fled across the border to Colombia if they have the means to do so. Unfortunately, many don’t wind up in much better shape even if they make it there alive. The number of Venezuelan refugees fleeing the country is now past four million and the camps over the border in Colombia are overcrowded with not enough resources to go around. Food, medicine and shelter are all in short supply, though international relief groups are doing the best they can with the resources they have available.

And all the while, Nicolas Maduro continues to hole up in the presidential palace, looking for all the world as if he isn’t missing any meals. He keeps sending out proclamations on Twitter saying that everything is under control and the only problems his people have are being caused by American interlopers. But it’s the endless corruption the country witnessed under both Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, that brought Venezuela to its knees. His socialist paradise made him a very wealthy man, but his citizens are the ones paying the price for it.

Now, the daily lives of Venezuela’s people are an endless misery. And as we saw in this report, not even the dead are allowed to rest in peace.

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