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Venezuela Prepares for Biggest Military Exercise in History


Venezuela is preparing for the biggest military exercises in its history this Saturday after the South American country’s government said it’s on high alert as the opposition pushes for a recall referendum on President Nicolas Maduro.


“Venezuela is threatened,” Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said on state television Thursday. “This is the first time we are carrying out an exercise of this nature in the country. In terms of national reach, it’s going to be in every strategic region.”


Maduro announced the exercises last weekend, a day after pledging to prolong his government’s special emergency powers. In a rambling press conference on Tuesday, Maduro said U.S. spy planes including an Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry had entered the country’s airspace illegally this month. The nation is already on an elevated state of alert after the U.S. renewed a presidential decree that said the South American country is a threat to its national security, Padrino Lopez said.


Opposition governor Henrique Capriles said a “moment of truth” had arrived for the country’s Armed Forces Tuesday, a day before security forces used tear gas to turn back anti-government protesters in central Caracas.


The opposition has pledged further demonstrations across the country to pressure the electoral board, or CNE, to process a petition to activate a recall referendum. They accuse the government of stalling the process to avoid early elections.


Rising political and economic tensions are gripping the country beset by the world’s highest inflation, shortages of basic goods, and currency controls. Discontent over a sinking economy and rampant crime sparked months of anti-government demonstrations that left dozens dead and hundreds injured two years ago.


“The government is looking to victimize itself to both the international community and its own followers,” Rocio San Miguel, director of Caracas-based, non-profit security researcher Citizens’ Control, said in an interview. “They’re looking for a distraction to buy time, and there’s no better distraction than the military one.”

Edited by visionary
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Venezuelan Supreme Court declares state of emergency constitutional 


Emergency constitutional?  Is that when you have to crap so bad that you're speedwallking to the bathroom with your butt clenched so you don't **** yourself?

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'Yes, I'm mad as a goat!' Maduro responds to Uruguay's Mujica


Called "mad as a goat" by Uruguay's Jose Mujica this week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro retorted laughingly on Thursday that the former president was right - but he was only crazy with love for his country.


"Yes, I'm mad as a goat, it's true," Maduro told a rally of the ruling Socialist Party.


"I'm mad with love for Venezuela, for the Bolivarian Revolution, for Chavez and his example," he added, smiling as the crowd cheered, in a reference to former President Hugo Chavez.


Mujica, a fellow leftist who ruled Uruguay between 2010 and 2015, said on Wednesday he respected Maduro, but still thought he and others in Venezuela were "crazy" for attacking each other rather than sitting down to resolve problems.


Amid a deep economic crisis, Venezuela's opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to oust Maduro. Government officials say that will not happen this year, and security forces have been blocking protest marches demanding the vote.


Numerous foreign countries are calling for dialogue, but there is deep hostility and suspicion between Maduro's government and the opposition Democratic Unity coalition.

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Venezuela Has Become a Starvation State


Behold the fruits of chavismo: children going hungry.


Nicolás Maduro never looks too sure of what he’s saying. For a man who’s been accused of enforcing authoritarian rule over Venezuela, there’s no resolve in his speeches. It’s odd. Just before he starts a statement you notice a small pause and a mumble, a hesitation, as if he was debating with the voices in his head. It doesn’t matter whether he’s speaking from a colonial press conference room in the Government Palace of Miraflores or, as he did last weekend during a nationwide military exercise, surrounded by men in uniform, holding their rifles high above their heads, chanting oaths of loyalty to the revolution.


How could Maduro not second guess his speeches, when every second that passes chavismo misses an opportunity to fix the economic mess that has brought Venezuela to a deadly standstill? Bears the question: why wouldn’t he just go ahead and fix the mess?


Hugo Chávez has been dead for more than three years, and the results of his irresponsible fiscal policies and criminally despotic rule have finally come to light in the form of pain and misery.


Images of Hospitals that look like catacombs, and prisons that have become maximum security business centers for criminals where no law applies, have become a reference when speaking about the country. But the wound goes much deeper than that.


We’re not just talking about shortages of basic staples such as toilet paper and soap, or daily electricity cuts, the five-day weekends for public employees, or about any of those stories that have turned Venezuela into a punchline with a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council. No. The economic collapse at the hands of chavista economic policies has brought something deadlier, and so much simpler: hunger.


Children who eat once or twice a day, who don’t go to school because they don’t have the energy. Families of four sharing a portion for one person. These stories have become as common as social media posts from people hunting for medicine to tend the ailments of their loved ones. This is the new kind of misery porn that has been drawing attention to Venezuela. A country that squandered close to a Trillion Dollars of oil revenue under chavista rule. Try to wrap your head around that sum for a sec. And now try to refocus on the country that today drowns in a humanitarian crisis. It’s as if the rate of the fall is proportional to the income received and wasted.

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How Venezuela’s socialist dream collapsed into a nightmare


Venezuela is in the midst of a stunning social, political, and economic collapse. The country of 30 million people is facing dire food and medicine shortages, frequent power outages, serious political unrest, the world’s highest inflation rate, rampant violent crime, and one of the world’s highest murder rates. Earlier this month, Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, declared a state of emergency.

In short, Venezuela has become the world’s most visibly failing state.


It wasn’t supposed to go like this. Not so long ago, Venezuela’s socialist revolution attracted its share of fellow travelersfirst-world idealists hungry for the next earthly utopia. Those folks are thin on the ground these days.


Here, then, is the story of how a relatively wealthy, relatively sophisticated country suddenly imploded under the weight of its own terrible choices — and why the worst may still be to come.


Click on the link for the full article

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Holy ****, this is so bizarre that it seems too far-fetched for even a SyFy original movie dystopia.

The government is so broke it can no longer afford to fly in the planefuls of fast-depreciating bolivar bills (the Venezuelan currency) it gets printed abroad; in effect, the country doesn’t have the money to pay for its money.



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Venezuela government, opposition hold talks in Dominican Republic: local media


Venezuela's opposition leaders and top government officials have held talks in the Dominican Republic to lay the groundwork for a potential dialogue to defuse a political standoff and a deepening economic crisis, local media reported on Saturday.


The OPEC nation is suffering a severe recession due to low oil prices and a collapsing socialist economic model. President Nicolas Maduro is locked in a standoff with Congress after the opposition won a sweeping legislative majority last year.


A government delegation including Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has for three days met with representatives of opposition parties including Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, according to opposition-linked newspaper El Nacional. Government-backed newspaper Ciudad Caracas described the encounter as an "exploratory meeting for the start of dialogue," adding that the meeting included ex-leaders of Spain, Panama and the Dominican Republic.


Rodriguez retweeted state-run broadcaster Telesur saying the government had met with the opposition. A Foreign Ministry official declined to comment. The head of Venezuela's MUD opposition coalition tweeted "There is no 'opposition-government' meeting in the Dominican. Representatives of the coalition are attending a meeting with (the ex-presidents)."


International agencies including the United Nations and the Group of Seven industrial powers known as the G7 have pressed the two sides to hold talks amid chronic shortages of food and medicine and electricity rationing.


But opposition leaders, who are seeking a referendum to recall President Maduro, have been deeply skeptical of initiating such talks. Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who is leading the recall push, said in an interview this week that dialogue would simply allow the government to buy time and that the only way to resolve the crisis was through a vote.


A dialogue effort in 2014 brought the two sides together amid months of violent anti-government street protests that left more than 40 people dead. Both sides agree that the talks did not produce any substantive agreements. Opposition leaders accuse the National Election Council of stalling their effort to recall Maduro, whose popularity in March dropped to 27 percent according to local pollster Datanalisis.


They also say the ruling Socialist Party has used a pro-government Supreme Court to shoot down nearly every law passed by Congress since the opposition won a two-thirds majority of seats in December. Maduro insists his government is the victim of an "economic war" led by business leaders with the backing of Washington.

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Venezuela Says Americas Bloc Suspension Threat Is 'Imperialist' Plot


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government said on Wednesday a move by the head of the Organization of American States (OAS) to censure the country for breaching democratic norms is an "imperialist" scheme to take the OPEC member's oil.


Under increasing international pressure and facing an internal opposition push for a referendum to recall Maduro, the government has reacted with fury to OAS chief Luis Almagro's request for an emergency meeting on Venezuela.


"The empire has decided that it's time to take our resources," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told reporters, casting Almagro as a tool of U.S. policy.


"We know that what's coming is an intervention... that's why we are alerting the international community."


Almagro, a former Uruguayan foreign minister, accuses Maduro of being a "petty dictator" who has disrupted democracy in Venezuela by sidelining the opposition-led congress and stuffing the Supreme Court with loyalists.


This week, Almagro requested a meeting of the OAS permanent council to begin proceedings in the 35-member hemispheric body that could lead to a vote on Venezuela's suspension.


Though Venezuela has lost heavyweight diplomatic support with Argentina and Brazil's recent moves to the right, it can still count on the loyalty of leftist governments in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.



Argentina mulling possible Venezuela censure in OAS, Mercosur


Argentina is studying whether to back moves at the Organization of American States and the Mercosur trade group to censure Venezuela and block it from leadership positions in response to allegations the socialist government is behaving undemocratically, the Argentine government said Friday.


OAS head Luis Almagro, who has accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of sidelining his country's opposition-led congress and stuffing the supreme court with loyalists, has requested an emergency meeting to discuss a possible censure of the country.


If OAS members agree that Venezuela is violating basic democratic principles laid out in the group's charter, it could pave the way for a vote that may suspend it from the regional diplomatic body.


Meanwhile, a senior Brazilian official said on Thursday Brazil may help block Venezuela from taking the rotating presidency of Mercosur in a bid to prevent Maduro from strengthening his power.


Argentina has not changed its position on Maduro's government, Argentine cabinet head Marcos Pena told reporters, after activists accused Argentina of withdrawing its support for the Venezuelan opposition, and does not rule out supporting a censure.


"For both the charters in Mercosur and the OAS, we absolutely have not ruled it out," Pena said. "We think at this time the best regional contribution is to promote a path of dialogue."


Argentina's new center-right president Mauricio Macri had supported invoking the democratic charter before Venezuela's December legislative elections, where the opposition won a two-thirds majority and took control of the National Assembly, Pena said.


"There has not been any change in Argentina's policy on this topic."


Application of the charter carries risk, Pena added.


"The democratic charter isn't a solution to any problem. The Venezuelan government could also use whichever of these mechanisms as a way of shielding itself against external interference," he said.

Edited by visionary
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Venezuela OKs first step in recall vote drive: opposition


Venezuela's electoral authorities have accepted 1.3 million signatures as valid on a petition for a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro, the opposition said Tuesday, a first step toward ousting the embattled leftist.


The decision moves the lengthy recall process on to the next step, in which 200,000 signatories must validate their identity with fingerprint scans.


The opposition would then have to gather four million more signatures to call a referendum on sacking Maduro, whom they blame for a spiraling economic crisis.



Venezuela's Maduro creates mining ministry


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday the creation of a ministry devoted just to mining, as the OPEC nation pushes to develop untapped mineral resources to diversify away from the oil industry, which provides nearly all its foreign exchange.


Maduro's government is seeking international partnerships with foreign investors to boost gold production. This year, Venezuela inked an agreement with Canadian mining company Gold Reserve to develop the Las Brisas and Las Cristinas mines as a way of resolving a long-running arbitration dispute.


"I announce the creation of the new ministry of popular power for ecological mining development," Maduro said in his weekly program on state television, appointing Roberto Mirabal to the lead the ministry.

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Venezuela: New regime effectively amounts to forced labour


A new decree establishing that any employee in Venezuela can be effectively made to work in the country’s fields as a way to fight the current food crisis is unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labour, said Amnesty International.


“Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.


“The new decree completely misses the point when it comes to findings ways for Venezuela to crawl out of the deep crisis it has been submerged in for years. Authorities in Venezuela must focus on requesting and getting much needed humanitarian aid to the millions in need across the country and develop a workable long term plan to tackle the crisis.”


The decree, officially published earlier this week, establishes that people working in public and private companies can be called upon to join state-sponsored organizations specialized in the production of food. They will be made to work in the new companies temporarily for a minimum of 60 days after which their “contracts” will be automatically renewed for an extra 60-day period or they will be allowed to go back to their original jobs.

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Venezuela election board okays opposition recall push first phase


Venezuela's election board said on Monday the opposition successfully collected 1 percent of voter signatures in every state in the first phase of their push for a referendum to recall socialist President Nicolas Maduro.


But council head Tibisay Lucena asked for a judicial probe into some apparent cases of voter identity fraud, and did not name a date for the next phase, to collect 20 percent of signatures.


The timing is crucial because if Maduro were to lose a referendum this year, as polls indicate he would due to an economic crisis, that would trigger a new presidential vote, giving the opposition a chance to end 17 years of socialism.


But should he lose a referendum next year, Maduro, 53, would be replaced by his vice president, maintaining the Socialist Party in power until the OPEC nation's next presidential election scheduled for the end of 2018.


Opposition leaders are demanding Lucena set a date for the collection of 20 percent - about 4 million signatures - needed next to trigger the actual referendum.

"Only one step remaining," tweeted opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara. "The better Venezuela is coming."


Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in the 2013 presidential race and has been the main driver of the recall push, called for rallies later this week to pressure for the next phase.


Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also urged Venezuela "not to play a game of delay" over the referendum.


The government, however, has vowed there will be no referendum this year. It has launched nearly 9,000 lawsuits, alleging massive fraud in signature collection.



U.S. Charges 2 Venezuelan Officials With Cocaine Smuggling


Generals were No. 1 and No. 2 at country’s antidrug agency between 2008 and 2010; indictments are latest in law-enforcement actions against senior officials


U.S. prosecutors unsealed indictments Monday against two high-ranking Venezuelan officials for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., in the latest setback for the embattled government of President Nicolás Maduro.

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Venezuela promotes general indicted in US on drug charges


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has named as interior minister a general the United States indicted the day before on drug-trafficking charges.


Maduro said Tuesday that he was promoting Nestor Reverol to show support for the general amid an attack from U.S. imperialists angry about his good work cracking down on the drug trade in Venezuela. U.S. prosecutors on Monday announced the indictment of Reverol, who once led Venezuela's anti-drug agency and National Guard.


"He is a brave man who is not afraid of anything or anyone," Maduro said. "As interior minister he broke the record for arrests of drug kingpins. The DEA and all the United States drug trafficking mafias want to make him pay, because the drug trafficking mafia runs the Untied States."


Venezuela's interior minister functions as the country's top cop.


The indictment unsealed in federal court this week accuses Reverol of taking bribes in exchange for helping cocaine traffickers by tipping them off about raids. It also alleges that from January 2008 to December 2010, he deliberately allowed cocaine shipments to leave Venezuela and returned seized drug money to traffickers.


The U.S. has indicted and sanctioned several other Venezuelan officials, including a former defense minister and head of military intelligence. The Venezuelan government has regularly accused the U.S. of using drug cases to destabilize the socialist administration.

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Nicolás Maduro turns to the armed forces for salvation


“THERE is only one chief! One commander! One authority!” These thunderous assertions came from Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, during a recent television appearance. Oddly, he was not talking about himself. He was extolling the defence minister, Vladimir Padrino López (pictured with Mr Maduro), who nodded appreciatively. The general, long a behind-the-scenes operator, has become much more visible and powerful.


In July Mr Maduro put him in charge of the government’s latest effort to alleviate food shortages, which have destroyed the populist regime’s prestige and threaten its survival. Things are now so bad that McDonald’s has stopped selling Big Macs because it cannot get the buns (a privation for the few Venezuelans who can afford them). The “Great Mission of Sovereign Supply” takes the bulk of food distribution away from an array of state and privately owned wholesalers and entrusts it to the army. General Padrino López, whose first family name means “godfather”, would be answerable to no one, Mr Maduro proclaimed. “All ministries and government institutions [involved in distributing food] are subordinated” to him. Mr Maduro told the army to take over the ports, too.


One big question is whether General Padrino López is now also in charge of Mr Maduro, or soon will be. The president has “transferred power”, believes Cliver Alcalá, a retired major-general who counts himself an admirer of General Padrino López. Writing on Latin America Goes Global, a website, analysts Javier Corrales and Franz von Bergen contend that Venezuela may have undergone “a new type of coup” in which “the president is not displaced, but effectively handcuffed.”


The regime was already a quasi-military one. Its founder, Hugo Chávez, was an army colonel who once attempted to stage a coup (he failed, but later won power in an election). His government was a civil-military union, in which the army acted as a spearhead of his “Bolivarian revolution”. The hapless Mr Maduro, chosen by Chávez to be his heir before he died in 2013, is a civilian and can look awkward at military gatherings. But he has kept the government’s martial tone. A third of his ministers are soldiers. Following a failed coup attempt in 2002, Chávez asserted full control over the army; after he died it resumed its historical role as an arbiter of power.

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On 10/1/2016 at 9:02 PM, visionary said:


That's horrible. It annoys me that the world has to stand by and watch things like this happen.  If we offer too much aid, we end up propping up the monster that has done this to his own people, and will do worse.  If we simply toss him in the ocean and help Venezuela rebuild, we're war mongers and criminals with no respect for sovereignty.  So we're left with no option but to watch states slowly fall into despair, or remain their, as unnecessary suffering rises.  This we call peace and stability. 

There has to be a better way.

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