Photos: EFE retrieved

Many, both inside Venezuela and abroad (Nicholas Casey of the The New York Times, for example), ask themselves with reasonable incredulity: “How is it possible that Maduro maintains control of Venezuela, in the midst of such a socio-economic crisis?”

I think he’s had three very useful crutches: emigration, remittances and CLAP.

I think he’s had three very useful crutches: emigration, remittances and CLAP.

It’s difficult to calculate the number of Venezuelan migrants since 1999 (let alone 2012 or 2017), so some organizations make approximations. Consultores 21 says that at least 4 million Venezuelans had left the country by December 2017, and the International Migration Organization states that 944,880 Venezuelans have left these last two years. Moreover, to those still in Venezuela, it’s very clear how the whole country loses people daily: driving in Caracas is a piece of cake today, because there’s no traffic (caused by a major lack of parts and batteries).

The consequence of emigration is more simple than tragic: with fewer people in the country, you have less protests for food, medicines and public services, less political activists and financial supporters; in fact, you have to distribute less products to maintain the country at peace. Less people, less problems for chavismo.

Of course, if more people leave the country, you have more remittances to friends and relatives at Venezuela, meaning there’s more folks inside who could actually face scarcity and hyperinflation. According to Datanálisis, 9% of those in Venezuela receive remittances (you could argue that the government itself is interested in a cut of this pie).

Less people, less problems for chavismo.

The third crutch is the CLAP system: if you can control the distribution of scarce and expensive food, giving what you decide to give, you have a very good tool to maintain control—people can’t protest if they’re waiting for the CLAP to eat. Also, according to Datanálisis, 50% of Venezuelans have received a CLAP box at least once, and 20% of the population receives CLAP boxes regularly.

That CLAP system, by the way, has its own limitations in its control, as our own Anabella Abadi explains.

There are other tools of social-engineering (hyperinflation, scarcity, crime and fear), but emigration, remittances and CLAP boxes are being very efficient right now. For how long? Calculations are a difficult exercise in this context, but I think time plays in chavismo’s favor, precisely because of the aforementioned system: less people to keep in check, less mouths to feed, more remittances. Benefits all around.

A Cuban strategy of high (and perverse) efficiency.

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41 COMMENTS

  1. “A Cuban strategy of high (and perverse) efficiency.”

    Except that Cubans always had a sugar daddy. The USSR until 1991 and then Venezuela. As Mr. O’Donnell explained in a comment to Mr. Toro’s article earlier in the week, Russia and China were already burnt by the helter skelter ways of Chavismo. In between sugar daddies, el periodo especial was hell for Cuba.

    A failed economy is an inherent unstable situation. Remember the Soviet Union and the committed communist apparatchik Gorbachev? He only tried to make an honest change for the betterment of his empire and the whole thing imploded.

    I also hang some hope in the fact that, that the Venezuela deteriorates at an breakneck speed, whereas people remember that not too long ago things were better and should be better. Again, as misguided as Aporreans are, they sure resent the shithole they live in.

    • Cuba’s lifeline was fucking Canadians vacationing there, and still. Even though these Canadians should have known they were enjoying their vacations on the backs of slave labor and a dictatorship.

      The U.S. never allowed this, until Smuckbama. Thankfully, very short-lived.

      Of course, Socialist morons like Canucklehead here…he has to be a Socialist moron to support Trudeau…think that this was the path to opening up to Democracy. That didn’t happen. What happened is Canadians could go to Cuba and fuck 15-year-old girls, and younger, for 5 bucks.

      And these worthless, morally corrupt Canadians still have the balls to claim that their Cuba policy is helping Cubans.

      This is why Canada gets so little respect by so many in the U.S.

      They are totally void of social conscience, unless that social conscience is Socialism or Communism.

      Trudeau is a fucking jerk, and Canadians still VOTE for him!?

      It’s like the country is totally void of practical values.

      • This entire commentary is correct, with 1 caveat, that the Liberals (Trudeau) support is stronger in the east, especially Quebec, rather than the west.

        The canadians love to see how Cuba is “untainted by the capitalism that’s infected the USA”

        “Void of social conscience” … maybe, the revisionism they use to apply judgement to their conscience is legendary.

      • YOU SEE, I AGREE WITH YOU. The last ”quak”, they picked a fight with Saudis over human rights! Socialism is the worse species on earth. Venezuela for starters.

      • We have supported and continue to support the Venezuelan dictatorship with every shipment of oil we buy with hard currency. That is a fact.

  2. Anything that stops venezuelans from protesting massively is a crutch and an aid for the tyranny.

    In this case, what they try to build with their hands, they topple down with their drooling ass-mouths:

    http://www.noticierodigital.com/2018/08/cabello-el-que-no-vaya-al-censo-despues-no-chille/

    “”Look. Whoever does not go to the census does not have a subsidy for gasoline. That’s simple. I have dollars to pay for my gasoline, I have petros, I have money, enough, to pay for gas, I do not care, do not go. Do not go. Your right is respected. Your right is respected. Then do not SQUEAL when you have to load gasoline you see the comrade who did go to register his car and did not believe the story that (the car) was going to be stolen by Diosdado, and is going to load gasoline with his carné de la patria, cha cha, subsidized gasoline. Then do not squeal. “”

    I guess that he doesn’t get to squeal when people go and butn the gas station to the ground because the rojo rojito bachaqueros want to squeeze their non-existant dollars.

    • Or Cuba-light. I agree though, I don’t see remittances being that big of a factor today in helping keep the average Venezuelan quiet.

      To me, aside from the obvious of the military propping up the government, I’d say emigration, CLAP, and the “missions” (handouts of money via Carnet de la Patria) are what’s keeping the masses relatively calm.

      Amazing the number of people who buy at the bodega because they just received an infusion of bolivares from Maduro.

  3. This the analysis is ultra-simplistic to say the least. You forget the main crutch: 40% or more Venezuelan love Chavez and his legacy.

    Please ignore ”Datanalisis” analytics. They are useless. I’ve followed them for my job and they were never able to anticipate the disaster of the infamous shithole, now behind Zimbabwe in collective intelligence levels. Fortunately, we had better sources. I was so disappointed with the interview given to Luis Vicente Leon on CNN Español. He doesn’t know how to articulate one idea without contradiction himself over and over. He’s the first Chavista of all!!! He is so afraid of contradicting Maduro that he does on himself.

      • I’m sorry I don’t have reliable numbers, I do include the opposition leaders and his followers, you know them: Capriles, Lopez (and his corrupt wife) and all the others that have a high life in Venezuela but don’t make the line for a CLAP. I might be short on my 40% estimate.

        • Nope, 12%, that was the roof the reds reached in 2005, also a proof that the RR’s results in 2004 were a fraud, and that 12% was giving them too much credit, as the numbers might have been inflated too, so chabizmo might actually be less than 10% since before 2005.

          After seeing how few chabiztas were actually in the country, the fake opposition, per the regime’s orders, doubled on the efforts to convinve the other 88% that they were a minority.

    • As a supposed expert on Venezuela, Jose…

      Where the hell have you been for the past 19 years?

      Don’t tell us what to believe. And please, when you get a chance:

      Just shut the fuck up.

      • Well, I’ve been actively working behind the scenes to make this country better. Instead of extracting dollars like most people do. My job was precisely to evaluate and improve risk in Venezuela, motivating the investment as much as I could by myself. All of this time-fighting corruption has helped too few, unfortunately. Over the last years before retiring I broke my back, etc.

        In fact, your question should be were I was the last 40 years.

        And, Ira, I know you’re angry but please don’t kill the messenger.

        You don’t liking my message is too bad.

    • A U.S. federal judge authorized the seizure of Citgo Petroleum Corp. to satisfy a Venezuelan government debt, a ruling that could set off a scramble among Venezuela’s many unpaid creditors to wrest control of its only obviously seizable U.S. asset.

      Judge Leonard P. Stark of the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., issued the ruling Thursday. However, his full opinion, which could include conditions or impose further legal hurdles, was sealed. A redacted version is expected to be available at a later date.

      The court order raises the likelihood that Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, will lose control of a valuable external asset amid the country’s deepening economic and political crisis . The decision could still be appealed to a higher, federal court.

      Attorneys for PdVSA weren’t available for comment. Citgo declined to comment.

      Crystallex International Corp., a defunct Canadian gold miner that filed the legal action, is trying to collect on a judgment over lost mining rights involving Venezuela’s government. It has targeted Citgo, an oil refiner, because this is the largest U.S. asset of the cash-strapped and crisis-riven country.

      Many other creditors of Venezuela are also circling Citgo, but Crystallex is the first to win a judgement authorizing its seizure. Crystallex had argued that Citgo was ultimately owned by PdVSA, which is an “alter ego” of Venezuela that is liable for the South American country’s debts. The judge’s decision in favor of Crystallex allows it to take control of shares of Citgo’s U.S.-based parent company, the first step toward a sale of the company.

  4. Remember that CITGO is the collateral of the loan from Russia to Venezuela. This loan vaporized, literally, in parties and other social events in the Dominican Republic in the form of JW-BL. I want to see Crystalex collecting from, and then paying the line of debtors they have. This soap-opera deserves following up.

    • Maduro can’t protect Citgo from creditors just because it offered it as collateral to Russia, so I don’t get your point.

      There was no way in hell Trump was going to ever allow Russian seizure of Citgo anyway. That’s a non-starter.

      • Citgo is vastly over-collateralized and the court will sell it off for cash then divvy to the creditors. Russia as a creditor sucks hind tit, so they won’t get any money. Russian national interests could, in principle, bid for Citgo assets or any assets, as can anyone. Russian bidders would have to pass US State Dept. review to complete the deal (so maybe time to call in those prepaid favors from Hillary).

    • Jose: see the legal concepts of subordination and subrogation then you’ll have an idea of how the seizure of Citgo will play out. Crystalex will have no direct obligation to Russia or to any other PdV creditor. The courts will sort out competing claims — they do it all the time.

      • Ira, please go to this article. It’s neutral. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-oil-citgo-exclusive/exclusive-u-s-investors-seek-to-acquire-russias-rosneft-lien-in-citgo-idUSKCN1GA2J4

        Yes, it is highly improbable that Trump allows the Russians to take over within USA territory, I mean physically. But the markets have its ways as long as they stick to OFAC rules. The most logical outcome is a swap as the article theorized. So that half of CITGO stays in US hands, privately owned creditors. As you well know the Oil & Gas industry doesn’t belong to the government.

        This conversation is turning interesting and I need time to examine SEC filings.

      • Absolutely, I spent 10 years on a case in a famous island. The client was overly collateralized and the local courts bounced the ball to each other to determine who would get cash first. We managed to disengaged finally. However the fights gord on still open in NY, I’ll die first before I see resolution.

        I know that if you go to http://media.citgo.com/newsreleases?year= and life appears perfect for CITGO. No Russian whatsoever.

        I just can’t imagine how this will end. CITGO is the case of the century.

        And I’m sorry to bring this into this discussion – I need to read back to see why.

  5. Crutches may not be the appropriate word in English because it suggests that Maduro uses emigration, remittances and the CLAP to maintain control. No, the Chavistas use these tools offensively to gain total control not defensively to maintain control. I think a common mistake is to dismiss Maduro et al as a bunch of incompetent bumblers ignorant of modern economics and principles of governance. Think of them as Marxists or its modern equivalent purposefully executing a plan thst includes emigration, remittances and the CLAP to destroy its opposition and create a socialist state. What you suggest is a weakness is to them their very purpose. Never underestimate your enemy.

      • Ira, you hit the nail of the head: these guys look stupid and mentally retrograde. And the Venezuelan elites have always dismissed their intellectual level. In fact, you can qualify this objectionable opinion of not being intelligent as the main ”crutch” of Chavez and imheritors.

        They are beating every one intelligence wise and will keep the riches of Venezuela forever.

  6. CC team – How’s crime these days in the country? The many other problems facing Venezuela are (deservedly) at the top of the news. I’m curious about whether crime has abetted a bit due to emigration, shortages or motorcycle parts, or some other reason…

    • I’ve -heard- that Caracas is safer these days because even criminals are migrating, you do get to see news of Venezuelan criminals picked up by Peruvian police in a regular basis (the irony, I remember when Venezuelan would call Colombians, with upmost prejudice, ladrones).

      I have also read that traffic in Caracas is better, less people, less parts for automobiles.

  7. “Of course, if more people leave the country, you have more remittances to friends and relatives at Venezuela, meaning there’s more folks inside who could actually face scarcity and hyperinflation.”

    I don’t understand this sentence.

  8. Those who remain will be receiving their remittances in something other than the Bolívar. Whether it be the dollar, euro or Colombian peso; it will be easier to face hyperinflation with any other currency.

  9. I think you should also take the collaborationist and corrupt oposition into account, in my opinion they’re the #1 culprit these people have stayed in power so long. Clap, emigration and money coming in from abroad are consequences of the negligence of the official “opposition”, the real and most effective crutch this regime could have ever hoped for. But, in essence, it’s the interested and selfish nature of venezuelans in general what has really allowed for a shitshow like this to ever happen in the first place. While there was money and Cadivi, life was a party for everyone, but then came time to pay the bill and the tears started. It’s a doomed society that needs to rethink its values, and I don’t think that’s happening, everyone just seems to be holding on and waiting and hiding in their own personal bubble until who knows what or who will come and save them.

  10. To the CC team: I think there are words missing in Andres final paragraph or conclusion:

    Of course, if more people leave the country, you have more remittances to friends and relatives at Venezuela, meaning there’s more folks inside who could actually face scarcity and hyperinflation. According to Datanálisis, 9% of those in Venezuela receive remittances (you could argue that the government itself is interested in a cut of this pie).

    this makes no sense: ”meaning there’s more folks inside who could actually face scarcity and hyperinflation” there is no correlation whatsoever between incoming remittances and scarcity/hyperinflation.

    I know there is no scarcity, what happens is that people can’t pay for existing goods and services. Starting with the government itself.

  11. Perhaps those of you living in Venezuela can confirm (or deny), but I am told that if it is public knowledge that you receive remittances, esp if from the US or Europe, or if you are spotted spending hard currency, that you a candidate to be kidnapped. Especially if you are elderly, e.g., an elderly parent and grandparent. At least in Caracas. Doesn’t surprise me. Why kidnap the poor and destitute? Follow the money.

  12. Speaking of the Citgo circus, is Venny Trader still lurking out there? I recall that guy explaining how Venezuela would never default, because the alternative was far worse. Well, I guess we’ll find out.

    • I thought Venny said “never willingly default” because of what we’re seeing now (seizures & Citgo, etc.). Regardless, I’d like to hear whatever he might say.

  13. yeah and people get afraid that the goverment will “get their hands on remittances”, but they’re already doing it through inflationary tax, every day that those bolivars stay on the account the regime take a nice chunk of it through inflation and devaluation

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