Beyond the Cusp

August 7, 2017

The Death of Venezuela


Seemingly, things could not get any worse in Venezuela until they do. Maduro has taken the final steps and initiated himself as their dear leader. The Venezuela legislature, the National Assembly, being held by the pro-democracy opponents to Maduro, as the citizens, in a recent polling, were eighty-percent anti-Maduro are being sidelined as Maduro has taken steps using the Supreme Court which he appointed to bypass the will of the people and their elected legislature. Maduro simply gathered five-hundred-forty-five supporters to be the members of the Constituent Assembly with which he will present a new constitution for Venezuela making him its sole holder of power. So, things are not going to improve in Venezuela until they get worse and until Maduro will no longer be capable of bribing the military. Of course, that situation may not be as far off as Maduro hopes as the military recently was proudly handing out toothpaste, soap and toilet paper as rewards to grateful soldiers as such items are actually prized in today’s Venezuela. Imagine a military handing out toothpaste, soap and toilet paper and being proud enough that they distributed pictures of these “awards” (see below). Despite claims that the voters demanded he write this new Constitution, all observers counted a vote total cast at best at half of the votes Maduro claims his side received. That absolutely reeks of fraud, yet as he has the military, and thus all the guns, he will get away with this. Venezuela is the proof positive that in the United States it is the Second Amendment which keeps everything closer to legal, absolutely legal.


Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph

Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph


Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph

Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph


In the past, the military was accepting, or demanding, bribes from citizens to hand out paltry amounts of food, and the people accepted this as it was the only source for food. For now, Maduro has the support of his officers but should he falter in providing them with the comforts they are accustomed to, they are just as likely to turn on him and serve the people the current Constitution requires of them. One only has to wonder how far this can go with the soldiers being satisfied with the little tokens which they are being “lavished” with by their superiors. The military were very efficient the night of the big announcement about Maduro and his five-hundred-forty-five supporting members of the Constituent Assembly when they arrested the leadership of his opposing parties. Leopoldo Lopez, the outspoken leader of the Popular Will Party as well as the former mayor of Caracas, and Antonio Ledezma, supporter of the failed 2015 coup, were both dragged from their homes in the middle of the night claiming they had “violated the terms of their house arrest” by having contacts outside their homes criticizing the steps being taken by Maduro and his custom built slavish government. As Antonio Ledezma was being taken there are reports of a woman risking everything yelling out, “They’re taking Ledezma! Please neighbors! It’s a dictatorship!” Fox News reported last May about the arrest of at approximately sixty-five lower-ranking military officers by the regime charging some of them with “instigating rebellion.”


It will not be long before there will be a new Constitution which will probably dissolve the National Assembly and replace the elected legislature with the Maduro appointed Constituent Assembly. The new Constitution is likely to allow, or at least not forbid if not instruct, their to be a special military group which will operate as the regime’s secret police arresting opposition leaders in the middle of the night never to be seen again. Eventually they get to arresting even lower level pro-democracy people eventually overstepping their permitted authority, after all, we are talking about a nation in South America where once upon a time, not that long ago if memory serves, the people watched governments change with the calendar year. Eventually the people reach a point where, when all too many people know of a person who disappeared in the deep morning under the dark before the dawn. Eventually, there will be a new dawn which will come to Venezuela, as Maduro has another problem, he will never overcome, he is no Hugo Chavez.


Hugo Chavez could give speeches which left the people mesmerized and upon which they could feel that everything was going to be perfect if they just allowed him the time. Maduro is more of the bull than the matador. Where Hugo Chavez could dodge the rushing bull, Maduro is the charging bull. Every bull will eventually meet a matador which has his number and he ends up as just another trophy, a picture of the awful past. How long before Maduro meets his matador is impossible to know as the matador will be the man who can rally the people while remaining silently in the background thus beyond the reach of the secret police. This might not take as long as some will predict, as over three-quarters of the Venezuelan public are pro-democracy and desire to resist Maduro. They very likely are more than simply concerned about the direction of their governance and should, as suspected, the new Constitution dissolve the elected legislature the people might rise up and save Venezuela from Maduro and escape the socialist trap which holds their economy in meltdown. We will hope that the people of Venezuela will be saved and soon as they have been through far too long a period of being deprived of a decent life and any economic opportunity as the government has taken over more and more of the private sector and running these industries one-by-one into the ground forcing the next take-over. For now, Maduro will continue his running roughshod over the people of his nation.


Beyond the Cusp


July 3, 2017

Will Venezuela be the Next Civil War?


One could say that Venezuela has been in a state of a civil conflict for quite some time. Nicolás Maduro assumed the Presidency upon the death of former Venezuela strongman and President Hugo Chávez. The following election was won by Maduro by a slim margin and he has ruled ever since despite growing opposition. To say that Venezuela is facing economic difficulties is a gross understatement. The news from Venezuela tells a grim story where food is scarce, medicines are usually only available on the black market and one news story even told of a severe shortage of toilet paper, a commodity which has few suitable substitutes. The wealthy fear leaving their homes worried over being beaten and robbed of credit cards and any cash. Gangs rule the streets in many parts of the nations and things are basically in a dreadful state. The wrecked economy is a result of years of central planning and socialist rule taking wealth from the top and distributing it amongst the poor after a percentage is kept by the kleptocrats in the government. Such always leads to economic collapse as it has now in Venezuela and has in North Korea and what brought down the Soviet Union. China has made an attempt at incorporating a measure of capitalism to prop up their socialist centralized governance. Yet President Maduro is doing what every true believer in the great and bright future socialism must produce, insisting that he has the solution and if only the remaining companies are federalized, then the glorious dream will come to fruition.


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on right on Stage at Demonstration

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on right on Stage at Demonstration


Chávez began this socialist nightmare by federalizing the oil and mineral industries claiming that they were making the very few excessively wealthy as they kept the vast quantity of the profits while leaving little for the workers whose toil made the profits possible. Chávez spread the wealth to the workers and they promptly spent it and were soon the working poor once again and the two main industries in Venezuela eventually were driven into the ground as their equipment fell into disrepair and mismanagement gave ever-dwindling returns. This is what Maduro now claims will bring that bright future which was experienced briefly at the start of the rule of Hugo Chávez, something which every socialist nation experiences before things take a turn for the worse and after that, it never improves. The Venezuelan Parliamentary elections of 2015 were not exactly a vote of confidence for Maduro as his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela) taking fifty-five of the one-hundred-sixty-seven seats. The remaining one-hundred-nine seats were taken by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD Mesa de la Unidad Democrática) which favors a return to capitalist republican rule with less governmental control of industry and all aspects of personal life (see map below). There were marginal votes for other candidates, none of which were elected to the Parliament. Since then Maduro and the Venezuela High Court have ruled relegating the Parliament into benign inconsequence politically, they are running the nations with an iron fist policy.


Venezuela Election Map Blue for Democratic Unity Roundtable and Red for United Socialist Party of Venezuela

Venezuela Election Map
Blue for Democratic Unity Roundtable and
Red for United Socialist Party of Venezuela


The violence in Venezuela is only going to escalate and this past week’s activity is just the beginning of another civil war. This one will be different in that the media will do all possible in their power to ignore everything, as Venezuela had been their shining example of the wonders that socialism as a form of governance brings and these bad times must now be as ignored as the brief period of good times was lauded loudly. Just in case the news missed the recent little event in Caracas, a government helicopter from the Venezuelan Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigations Unit (CICPC) buzzed the Venezuelan High Court building and there were even reports that there were shots fired and even a grenade thrown from the helicopter towards the High Court building. Hanging from the side door of the helicopter was a sign showing the “350 Freedom” banner which refers to Article 350 of the Venezuelan Constitution which states, “The people of Venezuela, faithful to their republican tradition, in their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, will ignore any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or impairs human rights.” The pilot, who could be easily seen in the pictures, was identified as Oscar Pérez, a police officer with the unit to which the helicopter belongs and former personal pilot of the former Venezuelan Justice Minister Rodríguez Torres who has left the government and joined those in opposition. As this was made public, likely be President Maduro and supporters, there were additional reports, also from government leaks, that Rodríguez Torres is tied to the CIA and is associated with conspiracies linking him with Western pro-democracy interests. Note, pro-democracy interests, which puts to rest whether President Maduro had decided that he is now President for Life. Further charges from President Maduro and supporters have placed blame beyond just CIA intervention and placed additional blame on former Vice President Joe Biden, yes, Joseph Biden is attempting to orchestrate a coup in Venezuela according to the Venezuelan President.


Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigations Unit (CICPC) flying over the Supreme Court, waving a flag reading “350 Freedom.”

Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigations Unit (CICPC)
flying over the Supreme Court,
waving a flag reading “350 Freedom.”


In an official statement Tuesday night, Maduro made clear that he believed the helicopter incident was a “terrorist” attack conducted by an unnamed coalition of anti-socialist forces seeking to take down his government. “Behind all of this is the plan, the activation of a generalized violence to make life impossible for Venezuelans.” Maduro also used the incident to press the importance that the public support a vote for his plan to draft a new constitution granting him further executive power, “to gather up these terrorist groups.” Talking of terrorist groups, the helicopter “assault,” where it is not certain whether any shots were fired or a grenade thrown, it was far from the only action taken this past week. There was another assault, this one on the National Assembly Building. Demonstrators reached to the outskirts of the Federal Legislative Palace where they engaged in intimidating opposition Ministers of Parliament who are in the National Assembly. A number of explosive devices were hurled at the building with reports agreeing that there were at least five such devices. These were gangs, which are followers of President Nicolas Maduro, have been perpetrating violence against regions and people who are thought to be opposed to Maduro as well as his proposed new Constitution which would basically declare him President for life with unmitigated powers. Violence has even broken out during sessions of the National Assembly (see video below and note man in the red, yellow and blue jacket as those are the Maduro PSUV Party and often worn by gang leaders who orchestrate violence). The fight divides the population as the violent leftist socialists who benefit from the government support leading efforts to draft a new Constitution placing Maduro in power indefinitely and aligned with the High Court while the newly elected Parliament, as noted above, supports the present Constitution and demand a return to elected governance and for Maduro to face fair and monitored elections or simply stand down allowing for new elections.



Of course, there is one exception to this being ignored by the media, the Donald Trump effect. You see, there is a reason, a legal one at that, by which the United States can get involved in Venezuela, The Monroe Doctrine. The document was initially intended as a signal to Europeans and Russia, as well as the remainder of the world, or universe if we here on Earth are not alone, that the Americas have a protector who will no longer stand off should there be any difficulty with the freedom of all nations in our hemisphere. The nice thing, or not so nice, depending on where you stand on American interventionism, is that the Monroe Doctrine has also been used by the United States in order to interfere with the internal activities of nations in the hemisphere. If things do get beyond the current horrific and open warfare were to break out in the streets of Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, then there will start to be soft calls for President Trump to do something because innocent people are being killed. Further, there may be reason for President Trump to act as what has he got to lose as if the violence increases, you just know there will be those blaming President Trump. They will point to Maduro who also accuses President Donald Trump of being personally responsible for the violence in Venezuela against his rule stating, “You have the responsibility; stop the madness of the violent Venezuelan right wing.” Yep, Venezuela is blaming their alt-Right and President Trump for the violence. Now, it is true that President Trump has repeatedly condemned the Maduro regime and called for a restoration of the democratic order in the South American country supporting the National Assembly, though he has never stated such directly. There will be media coverage to come eventually, especially should the violence escalate. The media will initially call for President Trump to do something to relieve the dangers to the innocent people of Venezuela, especially if there should be an attack on the Parliament resulting in large loss of life including numerous Ministers of Parliament. Then, should President Trump act and send troops or intervene in some manner the media will waffle between two headlines, “President Trump Over the Top Action Unnecessary” and “President Trump to Fail from Fear of Acting.”


What is actually interesting is that much of the violence occurring in Venezuela has been committed by presumed independent gangs supporting Maduro to gain all the power he desires. These are the protesters who are attacking the Parliament to the point the building is now closed to the public and guarded. These gangs have also been loosed upon anti-Maduro protesters with great regularity making any coincidence as an explanation ridiculous. Military police have been used to quell demonstrations as well, often with water cannons. What is frightening is that Maduro has stated his intention to go to war to end the violent demonstrations. When one understands that, the majority of the violence is organized by his supporters and people in the administration. If one had to make a historical reference, these are the Brownshirts, Hitler’s SA, should Maduro need to use violence in order to assure his new Constitution becomes enacted. Once he receives the additional powers from a new Constitution, he will no longer need to subdue the National Assembly to continue in a dictatorial manner, then he will have little to no use for troublemakers. This will lead to his recalling the leadership of the gangs which have been acting to enforce his desired goals, as they will be useful in the new security department, and then use that very same department to remove the Gangs as they would only be problematic and their instigating would no longer be required. It would resemble the efforts when Hitler and the Nazis established their complete control and simply had the SA members, the Brownshirts, murdered. After this Maduro will have his President for life and new dictatorial governance will have been born. The people in general are opposed to this idea so we can expect a long and drawn out battle resulting hopefully in the eventual, preferably in the near future, removal of Maduro preferably through fair and monitored election, but by his taking any ill gotten wealth and retiring to somewhere in Europe or wherever he feels comfortable, just as long as it is not in our neighborhood. But, in the meantime, Venezuela is teetering on the brink of revolution or violent oppression and they will need to fall beyond the cusp to find the answer. We can simply hope the military will side with the people when the time to choose comes.


Beyond the Cusp


June 24, 2016

Venezuela is Just the Latest Example


Socialism is the greatest form of magic and it can work wonders under one small technicality; those in charge must be capable of predicting everything and every need weeks before they occur. There have been some great minds and some not so great minds which have attempted to master this simple little but key problem. They have never succeeded and likely until we have some extremely advanced artificial intelligence (AI) capable of figuring more computations and be inspired and intuitive as well, even AI will not save the day. Unfortunately for Venezuela they were relying on Hugo Chavez’s daughter and the rest of his crony socialists which has led to the riots in the streets because when the government gives everything and its fails, everything fails right along with it. The people are suffering as there is no food, no electricity, nothing, not even toilet paper. Venezuela is on the fast track to join that other socialist utopia, North Korea as that was the system they were emulating. What were they thinking? Anyone looking at North Korea and thinking, ‘hey, maybe we should try that total socialist thing and see how it works for us geniuses,’ is asking for ruin for their people. But what they saw in North Korea was the ruling elite who were living large and eating good and they looked no further than the feast served in the palatial grounds of the Kim family and thought, we can live large too. They didn’t look at the people who have been eating grass and the bark off of trees. North Koreans have it so good that they are trying to sneak into China where they see a world of plenty. Maybe China has found a secret to make socialism work as China is socialist, right?


So, since China might have found a secret, perhaps looking back at the socialist history and see what their magic bullet turned to be. Back when Mao Tse-tung initiated his socialist communist utopia of a planned production and state run farms and factories, they had such a failure that it is still unknown how many Chinese paid with their lives as a result of that first famine produced by crop and other farm failures. Estimates run from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions to hundreds of millions to unimaginable millions. The only Chinese who were safe from father Mao’s wonderful central planning were the peasants living in the furthest reaches of China in the remote farmlands who raised their own crops and were self-sufficient. Mao Tse-tung and his central planners then came up with a brilliant idea based on those remote peasants and allowed the farmers to work and plant as they saw fit and permitted them to keep sufficient food to feed their communities. But the factories still were under central planning because the communists understood the needs of the people. There were often shortages of particular items and sometimes unforeseen demands which were completely unexpected and there would be a lag time and waiting lists grew for such things as cars, televisions and other thought of luxury items. Housing became more sterile and stark as central planners placed a higher emphasis on quantity over quality and function and basics over appearance and luxury or even comfort. The people wanted more and knew about the rest of the world despite the attempt to control their news from the outside world. Mao Tse-tung gave in areas to the better minds but still retained much of the control centrally and thus restricting reactive production which led to continued waiting lists and production lagging demand sometimes by years. Mao died and the communists with time made a fateful decision as their economies could not meet their directive goals. They let loose of a degree of control and allowed for a select group of entrepreneurs, some free enterprise where industry owners were permitted to keep some of their profits providing they met the expectations and projections. This stimulated their economy and this led to meeting projections and industrial and economic growth beyond anything they had previously attempted. This led to economic growth rates sometimes surpassing 9% annual gains and brought the Chinese economy into the modern age and spawned the rise of a middle class, a new concept in socialist governance. But China was no longer a purely socialist system and it was the free enterprise which was permitted economic freedom which spawned the growth rates.


I can hear the questions asking what would happen if the growth rate slowed or even, heaven forbid, hit a recessive downturn. Well, that would be an easy one to answer with only one problem, the Chinese economy had been so repressive that the last decade plus, as they liberalized their economy and allowed more and more of the economy to be a semi-free demand economy with free enterprise, that they only recently finally reached a point where their gains slowed and failed to meet expectation and fell below their desired, if unreasonable, 9% per year and the initial signs are what some might call ominous. The central planners are showing signs of throwing out the baby with the bathwater as they are showing indications of returning to form and taking back the control over production planning thinking they can plan better than the profiteers as their decisions are empirical and not driven by guessing and risk taking. There is a positive side to this and that is we will see if after having witnessed the methods of for profit manufacturing and investment that the central planners might have an improved ability at decision making. Even if the central planning takes back sufficient control that the wait lists return and they end up where they were before their first experiment in free market economy, then their second experiment in free market economy will be the same inevitable success that they had the first time. The reason a free market economy works is that it is driven by greed, a vice which has never been vanquished from the human spirit and as long as there is greed, then profit based economy will work the best in satisfying the greed of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as all gain from such a driven system. This could lead to a cyclical Chinese economy with it going in spits and starts as the free market produces growth until the inevitable recession. The central planners then clamp their control back over the economy and as that fails they resort to free market until it slows and back and forth and back and forth and eventually one will prevail. The likely winner, for the benefit of the Chinese people, will hopefully be free market and the central planners simply resort to governing wisely as we have always been taught the ancient Chinese rulers had managed when they were not fighting against one another in order to consolidate their control. The one thing that can be learned from the Chinese who found their way to allow for free market economy when central planning failed to meet the people’s demands is that even central planners can sometimes know when they have failed before it is too late.


Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie Lead to the Revolution

Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie
Lead to the Revolution


That is the problem with too many socialist governments, even those which are based on a free market economy but use socialist programs to redistribute wealth more evenly and to provide retirement income so nobody gets left out in the cold. When these programs reach a point where they outstrip the resources then either taxes need to be increased or other means of making the programs affordable even if they must cut back on their benefits. When the taxes are too high in order to presumably pay out welfare and retirement benefits the economy can still collapse into freefall such as was the case resulting from the 2008 economic downturn, bust if you insist, and Greece, Spain and others found themselves so deep in the hole that the economy was unable to recover. This was further exacerbated by the fact that they are on the Euro which receives much of its value based on the combined economies of the European Union which include Britain, Germany and other nations whose economic output is far greater than Greece thus Greece could also not support the value of the Euro which furthered their problem. The single currency may result in the end of the European Union if the nations being damaged by the single currency decide to leave so they can manage their own currency. Add into this the Brussels Eurocrats dictating immigration policies and forcing refugees into countries which feel threatened by the refugee situation. This will be a further demand on the economies of the nations taking in the refugees and you have another stress that will force more nations into economic difficulties. There is much to look at going forward and Europe is on the leading edge of the coming problems many which will result from the many and varied conflicts and other problems ongoing in the Middle East and North Africa, things we will most certainly cover here along with the other items of particular interest around the globe. In the meantime, let us hope that Venezuela figures out where they went wrong and change their economic means and systems to something which at least can feed and provide a few other necessities and even the luxury of toilet paper soon and the people can stop rioting and work and produce for their own enrichment and not just the enrichment of the central planners who apparently decided their wealth mattered more than the people and are now facing an ugly truth, they were wrong. We could hope for the people of North Korea as well, as their new leader, Kim Jung Un is apparently unbalanced and seems to believe if he is doing well the people should be happy enough by that knowledge even if they lack for virtually everything including decent food.


Beyond the Cusp


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