And now something of interest for our friends south of the border


Sao Paulo Police Select the Steyr AUG SMG in .40 Caliber

Brazil’s Military Police of São Paulo State (PMESP) have selected the Steyr AUG in its submachine gun configuration to fulfil an order for 1,000 submachine guns. The Steyr AUG A3 in submachine gun configuration, feeding from a .40 caliber extended Glock magazines was the winning bidder for the contract. The Steyr beat out competition from B&T and Shield Arms. In the negotiation phase, Steyr offered the lowest final bid, $2,580 per weapon.

Perhaps our Correspondent at the South American Desk can add to this report.


‘Get me back to Caracas’: desperate Venezuelans leave lockdown Bogotá

Rosa Vera, a 40-year-old from a small town in crisis-ridden Venezuela, thought moving to Colombia would give her the chance to find work. Five months ago, she left her family and began the arduous journey to Bogotá, the Colombian capital, to look for a job.

Instead, as coronavirus shut down economic life in the city, Vera and more than 400 Venezuelans had no choice but to camp out for a month, waiting for help to get them home.

“I left Venezuela because the situation was so bad that I couldn’t feed my family,” Vera says, as cars whizz along the highway that cuts through the impromptu camp. “I never thought that here I wouldn’t be able to feed myself.”

Venezuela, despite having the largest proven oil reserves on the planet, is mired in economic and social ruin. Hyperinflation is rampant, rendering the currency, the bolivar, practically useless, while food shortages are a daily reality.

I can knock on doors but if there’s no work, what can I do? Going home is the only option I have

More than 4 million Venezuelans have now left, with about 5,000 crossing into neighbouring Colombia each day at the end of last year, according to data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Nearly 2 million live in Colombia.

But now, with lockdown shuttering businesses and keeping customers away, there is little work for Venezuelans such as Vera. Unable to pay rent, she was evicted from the house she shared with other migrants in the south of Bogotá. She has spent the past month camped outside a bus terminal on the northern outskirts of the city. Vera, like the 430 others here, would rather be home in Venezuela, where at least shelter is guaranteed. “I can knock on doors but if there’s no work, what can I do?” Vera asks, as she washes her clothes in a stream. “Going home is the only option I have.

“The dream is to get home and get a roof over my head,” Vera says. “With a little help from God, I’ll get there.”

Last Thursday morning the city began bussing the migrants towards the border. Between rain showers, hundreds of hungry Venezuelans packed up their tents and queued for buses.

Continue reading “”

Venezuela: UK court blocks Maduro’s attempt to access $1 billion in gold

Venezuela’s embattled ruler Nicolás Maduro has been denied access to roughly $1 billion in gold reserves held by the Bank of England after a UK court ruled that the British government has recognized Juan Guaidó as president.

Venezuela’s central bank, which is still controlled by Maduro’s government, had sued the Bank of England, seeking access to €930 million ($1 billion) in gold reserves that it said would help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Venezuela intended to liquidate the gold to purchase health care supplies and food through the United Nations Development Programme, according to court documents.

But the British government, along with the US government and dozens more worldwide, recognizes Guaidó, rather than Maduro, as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Venezuela’s political turmoil stems from 2018, when Maduro secured another six-year term in presidential elections widely viewed as a sham.

Continue reading “”

US special forces to help combat drug trafficking in Colombia’s war-torn areas

The United States embassy said Wednesday that American special forces will assist Colombia’s security forces in counter-narcotics operations in war-torn areas prioritized in the peace process.

The so-called Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) will carry out joint missions in what President Ivan Duque calls “Future Zones,” regions historically abandoned by the state and controlled by the FARC until their demobilization in 2017.

Four of these five areas are also major coca growing regions where dissident FARC factions and other illegal armed groups maintain control over the drug trade with increased help of Mexican drug cartel emissaries.

The SFAB mission in Colombia is an opportunity to show our mutual commitment against drug trafficking and support for regional peace, respect for sovereignty and the lasting promise to defend shared ideals and values.

US Southern Command chief Admiral Craig Faller

The SFAB mission of “several months” will begin in June as part of a the “Enhanced Counter Narcotics Operations” carried out throughout the hemisphere “to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, degrade transnational criminal organizations, and increase interoperability with our partner nations and interagency partners,” the US Southern Command said in April.

US President Donald Trump announced these operations early last month as part of what Defense Secretary Mark Esper called a “whole-of-government approach to combating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States and protecting the American people from their scourge.”

The production and export of cocaine in Colombia “kills our farmers, destroys forests, wildlife and contaminates the rivers and seas,” the US embassy quoted Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo as saying.

The SFAB’s of more than 500 soldiers did not exist until 2018 and also meant to bolster US allies dubbed “weak states” by American military scholars.

Colombia, whose state has historically been considered weak, has been struggling to lower cocaine production, partially because its National Army has been bogged down by corruption.

Not that we didn’t already know that, but openly admitting it is what’s really interesting.

Canadian Gun-Grabber Admits Disarmament is the Ultimate Goal

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “The government has finally moved to ban military-style assault rifles. Great. So now let’s go to the next step, a complete and comprehensive ban on the sale and ownership of all handguns,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation opinion writer Tony Keene demands.

It’s not just “military-style assault rifles.” Per The Daily Wire:

“[T]he list of banned guns includes 10- and 12-gauge shotguns — a necessity for hunting in many of Canada’s more remote locales — hunting rifles, a BB gun, and even the website AR15.com.”

“There is no conceivable reason why an ordinary person needs to own a handgun,” Keene asserts. “No reason whatsoever.”

People who have used guns to save their lives and to stop violent criminals would disagree with Tony. So would the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, which concludes:

“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”

But don’t bother opinionated Tony with facts. He’s self-evidently the type of prohibitionist zealot described by libertarian novelist L. Neil Smith:

“What kind of moral cripple would rather see a woman raped in an alley and strangled with her own pantyhose, than see her with a gun in her hand?”

The kind that demands a totalitarian monopoly of violence. Tony goes on to prove it and which side he’s on.

“Those of us trained in the use of handguns (and I mean properly trained, by the police or the military, not just a weekend course at the local gun club) know that the armed amateur is dangerous,” Tony instructs, making sure to include himself as a former military reservist in the exclusive cadre of armed elites.

It seems Tony “served for more than four decades as a military reservist and took part in, and wrote about, multiple missions in Canada and abroad.” Good for him, he’s a veteran.  So was one of our country’s greatest military heroes, and he’s remembered today as Tony deserves to be for the destruction of liberty he wants to force on his countrymen.

As for “those…properly trained,” they get three tries to qualify with “policing standards”? These are them? That’s it? But Tony obnoxiously dismisses gun owners who put themselves through more demanding exercises on any given weekend as “Citizen Rambos”?

“Likewise, the term ‘shooting yourself in the foot’ is not just a metaphor,” Tony bloviates, oblivious that he has just stepped in a real-world refutation of his ignorant arrogance.  Remember DEA agent Lee Paige, the guy who claimed to be “the only one … professional enough” to carry a gun, and then did just that?

Thanks to this bit of ironic karma, the term “Only Ones,” proven fitting every day by innumerable examples, was born.

We could go on fisking this fanatic, but the rantings of someone who thinks he’s clever for comparing gun owners protective of their rights to “poison gas enthusiasts” aren’t worth the time. We know bigotry is born of ignorance, and Tony proves it yet again with his “suggested scenario” demanding:

  • A total and absolute ban on handgun sales, and on handgun ownership by private citizens. (With long prison terms for violation.)
  • Restriction of long guns to bolt-action rifles and limited-magazine shotguns.
  • Firm enforcement of minimum sentences for possession of any restricted weapon, and even more stringent penalties for anyone committing a crime with a firearm.
  • Exemptions, under strict controls, where subsistence hunting is a way of life.

We owe Tony thanks for making it clear that no, it’s not about “commonsense gun safety,” and yes, his counterparts on our side of the border really are talking about taking our guns. (Speaking of which, I also give him props for “heightened border vigilance,” but still wouldn’t mind seeing woke and triggered Canadian “progressives” attack him as a xenophobe and hater.)

“And no, it won’t take away our freedom or democracy,” Tony disingenuously concludes. “But it will make us safer.”

If by “us” he means his side, the one with the guns, then yeah.

Some will no doubt dismiss this because it’s in Canada and ask why we in the U.S. should care what they do over there. We need to be vigilant to threats as they approach because the goals of their grabbers are the same as ours. And the goals of the globalists who would rule us if we let them are to impose totalitarian disarmament edicts everywhere, in Everytown…

Mexico asks U.S. for answers over historic gun-running row

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s president on Friday urged the United States to shed light on a gun-running sting that caused bilateral friction under the Obama presidency, questioning the behavior of past U.S. administrations for the third time this week.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would send a diplomatic note to Washington for information on the 2009-2011 operation known as ‘Fast and Furious,’ a topic that has resurfaced in recent days amid a debate over historic U.S.-Mexico cooperation on security and possible corruption under previous administrations.

Setting out to stop cross-border gun smuggling, the U.S. scheme allowed people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to drug cartel bosses. Some weapons were later blamed for gangland slayings in Mexico.

“How could this be? A government that invades in this way, that flagrantly violates sovereignty, international laws,” Lopez Obrador said at his daily news conference.

To avoid a repeat, the matter needed to be cleared up, said Lopez Obrador, who noted that President Donald Trump had last year been “respectful” to Mexico in discussions over joint co-operation following two major security incidents.

Mexican politicians are still arguing over how much its government knew about ‘Fast and Furious’ at the time.

Lopez Obrador brought up the gun-running scheme on Monday when discussing the case of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico’s security minister from 2006-12, who was arrested in the United States in December and charged with drug-trafficking offenses. As security minister, Garcia Luna had spearheaded a crackdown on drug gangs, launched under former President Felipe Calderon.

Roberta Jacobson, a former American ambassador to Mexico appointed under U.S. President Barack Obama, had suggested both governments knew about possible corruption by Garcia Luna in an interview with Mexican magazine Proceso published at the weekend.

Lopez Obrador has used the arrest of Garcia Luna to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.

But this week he has also asked whether previous U.S. administrations were complicit by working with Garcia Luna, whose period as minister coincided with Obama’s first term in office and the final years of George W. Bush……….

On Monday, Lopez Obrador said U.S. officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who cooperated with Garcia Luna should be investigated.

The DEA and the CIA declined to comment. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, Lopez Obrador again asked for U.S. officials to be investigated for their ties to Garcia Luna, saying “cover-ups” during the era were not the work of just “one government.”

Canada Watch: Non-Compliance Is Trudeau’s Gun Ban Problem

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent announcement banning some 1,500 models and variants of firearms, announced in reaction to the murder rampage in Nova Scotia, has a problem Canadian anti-gunners and their counterparts in the United States have habitually ignored because it is an inconvenient truth.

It is likely a majority of Canadian gun owners will do what they did during the country’s multi-million-dollar gun registration debacle, and simply ignore it. Criminals, of course, will do likewise, as detailed in an eye-opening essay published by Reason online and authored by contributing editor J.D. Tuccille. He reminds readers that “gun policy expert Gary Mauser estimates that registries usually achieve only about one-sixth compliance.”

TGM traded email with Mauser regarding this estimate. It refers to a 2007 report published by the Fraser Institute headlined “Hubris In The North.” Found on Page 31 of this report is a footnote that says this:

“There is some evidence from a number of countries over a substantial time period that roughly a sixth of guns will find their way into the registration system in exercises such as this. When military-style, semi-automatic rifles were restricted in Canada in 1991, the RCMP estimated that approximately 12% of the firearms imported were actually registered [Mauser, 2001a]. Australia tried to introduce a gun registration system during colonization in 1796, and about a sixth of the known guns were registered. The Federal Republic of Germany began a registration system under the Baader-Meinhof threat in 1972; the government estimated there were 17 to 20 million guns in the country but only 3.2 million were eventually registered. In the 1980s, when the English authorities tried to register pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns, only 50,000 were ever brought forward out of the 300,000 shotguns that were known to have been imported. Again, in New Jersey, USA, registration requirements were handed down for so called “assault weapons.” A minimum of 100,000 firearms were included under the legislation (probably many more, but there were difficulties with the wording of the legislation). Fewer than 2,000 of these firearms were offered for registration [Kopel, 1992].”

As Tuccille notes only six paragraphs into his analysis, “nothing in the ban would have prevented (killer Gabriel) Wortman’s rampage, given that he was already unlicensed, illegally impersonating a cop, and using black-market firearms.”

This reflects something of a pattern of gun control, according to various Second Amendment advocates. The proposed laws would not have prevented the crime for which the new solutions are now being offered, and the same goes for an edict such as the one just handed down by Trudeau.

As explained by Tuccille, “Trudeau’s ban was implemented via an ‘order in council’—a decree that entirely bypasses Parliament. Orders in council resemble the executive orders issued by U.S. presidents, and have been subject to similar mission-creep, long ago evolving from means for settling administrative matters within government agencies into end-runs around normal democratic procedures.”

Longtime rights activists repeatedly contend the sort of reaction now coming from Trudeau transfers guilt from the perpetrator to all gun owners. The gun prohibition lobby consistently tries to penalize all firearms owners for the actions of a relative few people, holding them accountable for crimes they did not commit.

In the process of enacting new gun controls, whether they involve registration or bans, or so-called “universal background checks” as are now required in California and Washington states, Mauser’s estimate of massive non-compliance simply provides the government with more ways to turn those law-abiding citizens into the criminals that anti-gunners want them to be.

And Tuccille noted that whatever new gun controls are imposed, they never seem to satisfy gun prohitionists.

“Sure enough, in 2020, the Canadian prime minister is imposing a ban by decree,” Tuccille writes. “And some gun prohibition fans want him to go even further. The Globe and Mail calls the ban a ‘weak half-measure’ because it doesn’t criminalize the possession of handguns. Former Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe spokesman Michael Bociurkiw wants to seal the vast border with the U.S. to curtail gun smuggling and ‘to make Canadians feel safer.’”

The real problem on both sides of the border is that lethargic gun owners who don’t vote allow people like Trudeau, and anti-gunners in the U.S., to enter public office. Whether that changes in November in the U.S., and at the next elections in Canada remains a matter of speculation.

What is not speculation is that by adopting strict regulations affecting legal gun owners, Trudeau will create the false impression that such crimes will be prevented in the future…right up to the moment they happen.

Trump denies ties to Venezuelan attack with 2 US men jailed

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the United States had nothing to do with an alleged incursion into Venezuela that landed two U.S. citizens behind bars in the crisis-stricken South American nation.

Trump said he had just learned of the detention of the pair, accused by Venezuela of being mercenaries. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said they were part of an operation to kill him that was backed by neighboring Colombia and the United States.

“Whatever it is, we’ll let you know,” Trump told reporters in Washington before departing from the White House to Arizona. “But it has nothing to do with our government.”

Authorities in Venezuela identified the two men as Luke Denman and Airan Berry, both former U.S. special forces soldiers associated with the Florida-based private security firm Silvercorp USA. Military records show both decorated soldiers served in Iraq.

A third U.S. ex-Green Beret and Silvercorp founder, Jordan Goudreau, claimed responsibility for leading “Operation Gideon,” which was launched with an attempted beach landing before dawn on Sunday. Officials said Tuesday that six suspected attackers were killed, giving a revised figure from the eight previously reported.

The State Department reiterated Trump’s comments that the U.S. wasn’t involved, accusing Maduro of launching a “disinformation campaign” to distract the world from recent events, citing a prison riot that left more than 40 dead and dozens badly injured.

“Nothing should be taken at face value when we see the distorting of facts,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “What is clear is that the former regime is using the event to justify an increased level of repression.”

U.S. officials said they are trying to learn more about the events, including the activities of two U.S. citizens as well as Goudreau. Answers will only come out when Maduro’s “regime” has ended, the statement said.

The two ex-U.S. soldiers were detained Monday dozens of miles  from the first attempted beach landing in the fishing village of Chuao. Authorities say they’ve confiscated equipment.

Goudreau has previously said the operation was designed to capture — but not kill Maduro. He said he carried it out on a “shoestring budget” after signing an agreement with U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who Goudreau accuses of failing to pay him.

5 May:

1260 Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire [and later in Xanadu, a stately pleasure dome decree].

Cinco De Mayo   When in 1861 Mexico declared a temporary moratorium on the repayment of foreign debts, English, Spanish, and French troops invaded the country. By April 1862 the English and Spanish had withdrawn, but the French, with the support of wealthy landowners, remained in an attempt to establish a monarchy under Maximilian of Austria and to curb U.S. power in North America.
1862, a poorly equipped mestizo and Zapotec force under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops at the Battle of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City; about 1,000 French troops were killed. Although the fighting continued and the French were not driven out for another five years, the victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. The city, which was later renamed Puebla de Zaragoza, is the site of a museum devoted to the battle, and the battlefield itself is maintained as a park.

1961 Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. becomes America’s first space traveler as he makes a 15-minute suborbital flight aboard Mercury capsule Freedom 7.

1994 Singapore canes American Michael Fay for vandalism, a day after the sentence was reduced from six lashes to four in response to an appeal by President Bill Clinton. [I didn’t think it was that long ago. How time slips away]

 

I’m not going to get into the weeds about this ‘order in council’.
I’ll just post a quote:
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken.

While they still do have some legal recourse, since Trudeau did this on his own ‘authority’ which is subject to lawsuit in the judicial system, in their parliamentary system of gubberment, the Canadian people voted this idjit into his office and his party into power. He’s their own creation. Sucks to be them, but they did it to themselves.


Trudeau says feds banning 1,500 types of ’military-style’ guns — order takes effect immediately

Gun Law Reform in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Homicides Drop Precipitously

In December, 2018, in an article published by the Wall Street Journal, this pronouncement was made. From the wsj.com:

Now, Brazil is set to embark on an experiment that will determine what happens when you loosen gun restrictions in a country battling an overpowering wave of gun crime.

Homicides in Brazil were at historic highs in 2017. They dropped a bit in 2018, as candidate Bolsonaro ran on reform of the gun laws to allow self-defense, and reform of the law to get tough on crime.  The homicide numbers dropped from 59,000 in 2017, to 51,000 in 2018. President Bolsonaro was elected in October of 2018.

After taking office on 1 January 2019, President Bolsonaro issued his first decree reforming some of Brazil’s extreme gun laws on 15 January 2019. The drop in Brazil’s homicide rate accelerated.

Gun control in Brazil has a long history. By 1997, restrictions on gun ownership were deemed as “severe” by the Wall Street Journal. From the wsj.com:

In Brazil’s violent cities, where 90% of the murders are committed with guns, ownership restrictions have become so severe that Taurus has branched out into motorcycle helmets, bulletproof vests, and auto parts.

(snip)

Brazil’s 1997 law, which requires gun owners to have unblemished police records and pass rigorous psychological and shooting-proficiency tests, has slashed Taurus’s sales to private individuals by more than 80% in the past two years, Mr. Murgel says. Taurus has sought to make up for that with an aggressive push into motorcycle helmets and increased gun sales in the U.S., where Taurus’s advertising spending is up threefold this year.

Early in the Bolsonaro presidency, a Brazilian lawyer predicted the homicide rate would drop. From ammoland.com:

César Mello, asked that I include information that early reports are showing a 25% drop in Brazil’s homicide rate, in the first quarter of 2019. If this trend continues, 16,000 lives will have been saved in the first year of President Bolsonaro’s time in office.

The rate reduction was not quite that high. Only 10,000 lives were saved.  From wtop.com:

Brazil had 41,635 killings in 2019, down 19% from the prior year and the least number of homicides since 2007, when the so-called Violence Monitor index was launched. It is a partnership between the non-profit Brazilian Forum of Public Security, the University of Sao Paulo’s Center for the Study of Violence, and news website G1, which published the data Friday.

“IN OUR GOVERNMENT HOMICIDES, VIOLENCE AND FALLACIES FALL!” an exultant Bolsonaro wrote on his Twitter account, sharing the G1 news report. “Our government extends a strong embrace to all the security agents of the country. Brazil continues on the right path.”

When translated to homicide rates, the rate dropped 17% in 2018, then 23% more in 2019. The population of Brazil in 2019 was 210 million. The rate of homicides per 100,000 was 19.83.  That is less than 2/3 of the homicide rate in 2017, which was 30.8.

Brazil has not had a homicide rate this low since 1995, before the highly restrictive gun law of 1997 was passed.

When the NYTs did an article on the reform of Brazil’s gun laws during the Bolsonaro administration, somehow, the reduction in the Brazilian homicide rate was not included.  The article was published on 31 March, 2020.   From the nytimes.com:

During Mr. Bolsonaro’s first year in office, the government issued more than 200,000 licenses to gun owners. The federal police, which issues licenses for self-defense, approved 54,300 permits in 2019, a 98 percent increase from the previous year. The army, which grants permits to hunters and collectors, issued more than 147,800 new licenses in 2019, a 68 percent increase.

The only mention of homicides in the NYTs article is this:

In Brazil, a country of more than 209 million that has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, the right to bear arms is not a constitutional guarantee, as it is in the United States. The gun rights movement has long been on the losing side of policy debates.

Will the Brazilian homicide rate continue to drop? We will find out over the course of the next few years. Leftist academics are already finding excuses as to why the reform of Brazilian gun laws made no difference.

They had predicted homicides would rise as the reforms were implemented.

Figures are that we import 25% of our generic prescription drugs, and ‘only’ 7%  from India, but that’s not an insignificant amount.
What if it stops? And what about where these other countries source their raw materials?
This is the secondary effect of this new disease virus that can cause more trouble than the disease itself.

China Shutdown to Ripple Across India From Drugs to Electronics

  • India sources about 80% of raw material for drugs from China
  •  Situation is likely to worsen from April, manufacturers say

Pharmaceutical Exports From India

The Indian pharmaceuticals market is the third largest in terms of volume and thirteenth largest in terms of value. It has established itself as a global manufacturing and research hub. A large raw material base and the availability of a skilled workforce give the industry a definite competitive advantage. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.4 per cent to touch US$ 55 billion by 2020.

The Indian Pharmaceutical market is dominated by generic drugs which constitutes nearly 70 per cent of the market, whereas Over the Counter (OTC) medicines and patented drugs make up to 21 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

EXPORTS AND ADVANTAGE INDIA

  • Pharmaceutical* export from India stood at US$ 19.13 billion in 2018-19 and reached US$ 9.36 billion in 2019-20 (till October 2019).

  • It is expected to grow by 30 per cent to reach US$ 20 billion by the year 2020.
  • In 2018-19, top importers of India’s pharmaceutical* products were USA (US$ 119.18 million), Russia (US$ 10.33 million), UK (US$ 9.83 million), South Africa (US$ 3.63 million) and Nigeria (US$ 1.71 million).
  • India is expected to rank amongst the top three pharmaceutical markets in terms of incremental growth by 2020.
  • India is the largest supplier of generic medicines globally (20 to 22 per cent of global export volume)
  • India has one of the lowest manufacturing costs in the world. It is lower than that of USA and almost half of Europe.

A Warning to America — Socialist Tyrant Maduro Sends the Military to the Streets With Tanks and Army Vehicles to Intimidate the People Into Silence

Intimidation causes fear in people.  It makes them pliable and makes them obedient.

On Saturday Caracas woke up to tanks, military vehicles and regime officials on the streets of Caracas.  Socialist Tyrant Maduro ordered the military exercises in his latest attempt to intimidate his citizens.

The President interim Juan Guaidó made this statement in response to these intimidation tactics,  “The rights of the people are not negotiated.  They are demanded and defended.”

So far more than 180 people were killed bythe DGCIM, the military counterintelligence agency in Venezuela. Guaidó’s uncle is being held captive by these people.

In addition, the EU spokesperson Morgan Ortagus comdemned the arbitrary detention of Juan José Marquez (Guaido’s uncle) in a desperate act by the regime. The absurd charges against Marquez are typical of Maduro and his corrupt socialist associates. Marquez is one of hundreds of political prisoners in Venezuela.

While Michael McCaul Lead Republican of @houseforeigngop posted: The arbitrary detention of Juan Guaido’s uncle is the latest in a long list of disturbing human rights abuses perpetrated by the illegitimate Maduro regime. I call for the immediate release of Juan Jose Marquez and all political prisoners.

How Venezuela’s Good Citizens Were Disarmed is a Lesson For Us

When I was a little girl in the early 1990s, my father worked in the energy industry and often flitted off to South America. He brought us back postcards and chucherías from this faraway land of Venezuela, describing it as the most picturesque nation in Latin America. The nation was then awash in oil wealth, the highest growth rate in the region, boundless education opportunities, fine foods and world-class beaches.

It seemed a mystical paradise where nothing could go wrong. Until it did.

When I stepped foot into the embattled nation a year ago to cover the burgeoning humanitarian crisis, none of my experience in war zones prepared me for the calamity that seemed to get worse with every step across the Colombian border. Venezuela had sunk into a violent humanitarian crisis. There was next to no rule of law…….

Cúcuta, a city straddling the Colombian and Venezuelan border, had become the stuff of nightmares: a microcosm of the conflict burning Venezuela alive. Its citizens had become unable to defend themselves or their families from danger and economic ruin.

And the Venezuelans are the first to tell you that so many of them willfully surrendered their right to bear arms in the lead-up to the 2014 crackdown. They told me this as clear words of warning.

“Venezuela is paying the price for the gun ban. The civilians are unable to defend themselves from criminal actors and from this Maduro regime’s abuses,” activist and university teacher, Miguel Mandrade, 34, said from the fog-laden, barren city of San Cristobal. “The uprising would have taken a different path and a different result if civilians had the right to defend themselves with the firearms they once owned.”……..

Some 4 million have fled the profoundly impoverished nation that, as this was being written, was still led by socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro. Meanwhile, the millions left languishing inside Venezuela’s borders are starving and without critical services and medical care. Homicide and crime rates are escalating as the inflation rate soars. The government has unleashed its forces and proxy militias to wage war on a troubled and defenseless population.

But the trigger of gun prohibition wasn’t pulled in an instant. Over several years, Venezuelan authorities chipped away at individual gun rights.As they did so, crime rates crept higher and higher.

How They Lost Their Freedom
In 2002, Caracas enacted its first effort to restrict gun ownership, placing the National Armed Forces as the body to oversee the regulation of all firearms. In 2011, then-President Hugo Chávez launched a public disarmament campaign as part of his Presidential Commission on Disarmament, which was supposedly aimed at reducing gun violence. Resolutions were cemented to prohibit possessing guns during cultural and sporting events, as well as on public transportation and construction sites. A 12-month moratorium was also put in place with regard to issuing gun permits.

The following year, Caracas banned the commercial sales of guns and shuttered the doors of firearms stores across the country. It was mandated that only military, police and security forces could legally own and buy guns.

Then, in 2012, Maduro signed into law the Disarmament and Arms Munitions Control, which carried the explicit objective to “disarm all citizens.” Chávez initially ran a months-long amnesty program urging Venezuelans to swap their arms for electrical goods; however, only 37 surrenders were recorded, while more than 12,500 guns were seized by force.

The government held grandiose decimation displays in the streets by bulldozing firearms en masse in front of large crowds in a bid to demonstrate their commitment to supposedly end gun violence.

In 2014, a further 26,000 firearms were confiscated or crushed—coincidentally, Venezuela clocked in as having the world’s second-highest homicide rate that very same year. Each year that the gun-control reins were pulled tighter, murder rates increased.

In 2001, according to gunpolicy.org, 6,568 homicides were recorded in Venezuela. By 2014, that number had jumped to 19,030.

Not-so-coincidentally, the black market in weapons also began to boom, with an estimated 6 million illegal guns in the country.

“The market works through international borders, in maritime and land areas, and the government itself has been a gun provider,” said Walter Márquez, a Venezuelan historian and former National Assembly Representative. “The government took legal weapons away from private people, disarming all those who could oppose it.”……

Venezuela is a Lesson Americans Must Understand

Venezuela serves as a reminder that gun control can serve as a gateway to despotism. Some contend that not only is Venezuela suffering the consequences of failing to fight the ever-inching gun-control measures, but also of failing to create a culture that understood the importance of having a right to keep and bear arms.

“The Venezuelan population trusted the government at all times that it would always use its authority within certain boundaries, and whenever it got out, we thought it would be solved by democratic or legal mechanisms. Our political and public behavior confirmed our cultural naivety in this sense,” said Javier Vanegas, 29, a Venezuelan teacher. “We are paying the price of not having had a strong gun culture.”

Before the 2012 changes, there were only eight registered gun stores scattered across the nation of 31 million people. The process for law-abiding citizens even to obtain a legal gun permit and a firearm was a months-long ordeal hamstrung by protracted wait lines, high costs and demands for bribes. Only one department, which operated under the Ministry of Defense, had the authority to issue civilian permits.

The collectives ruthlessly oppress opposition groups, giving Maduro a cosmetic cover. When we saw them, we ran for cover.

In late 2017, when Venezuela was in the clutches of its spiraling economic catastrophe, Maduro announced he would distribute some 400,000 arms to his patriots—claiming a U.S.-led coup was coming—and the civilian population was left as sitting ducks. Since April of that year, hundreds of Venezuelans protesting the government, armed with little more than stones and paper signs, have been shot or have disappeared in retaliation.

“If citizens had access to guns, and if they had been armed since before the arrival of Chavez, it would have been, at least, a powerful obstacle to the socialist agenda,” said Vanegas. “Socialism thrives in chaos. The perfect tool for chaos in most of Latin-America is criminality. If the people had had the tool to defend themselves, instead of resorting to more state power to end the criminality (an end the government never intended to give), then, of course, it would have made a huge difference.”

In recent years, he said, the daily life of the unarmed Venezuelan has been shaped by crime.

“People have stopped going out. Businesses and businessmen and women went broke or closed shop and left. The youth began to be fearful of spending time out in the city,” Vanegas said. “I personally had one family member and two friends kidnapped for ransom.”

The stuff of nightmares quickly became normal to the likes of Vanegas, who reflected that his complacency has been shattered as his beloved country has fallen apart. Scores of ailing Venezuelans told me that even before the protests sparked five years ago, calling the police to report a crime entailed long wait times and pressure to bribe officers not only to come, but to process the case per the book. Now, even making such a call is basically useless.

One person I met on my travels in the region whispered in hushed tones that those who dare keep an old gun beneath their bed—or those who have the finances to find one on the black market—risk the punishment of 20 years behind bars. This person confessed that he kept an old revolver that once belonged to his grandfather. He worried that if he used it to save his own life, the Maduro regime would then come to take him away to prison.

China counts 170 virus deaths, new countries find infections

BEIJING (AP) — China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation.

India and the Philippines reported their first cases, in a traveler and a student who had both been in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the new type of coronavirus first surfaced in December. South Korea confirmed a case that was locally spread, in a man who had contact with a patient diagnosed earlier.

Locally spread cases outside China have been a worrying concern among global health officials, as potential signs of the virus spreading more easily and the difficulty of containing it. The World Health Organization is reconvening experts on Thursday to assess whether the outbreak should be declared a global emergency.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, another type of coronavirus.

Thursday’s figures for mainland China cover the previous 24 hours and represent an increase of 38 deaths and 1,737 cases for a total of 7,711. Of the new deaths, 37 were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, and one was in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Three of Japan’s confirmed cases were among a group of evacuees who returned on a government-chartered flight from Wuhan on Wednesday. Japan’s foreign ministry said a second flight carrying 210 Japanese evacuees landed Thursday at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Reports said nine of those aboard the flight showed signs of cough and fever.

India’s health ministry said a student in Kerala state who had been studying in Wuhan was confirmed to have the virus after returning home during the Lunar New Year break. Philippine health officials say a woman who traveled to the country from Wuhan via Hong Kong had tested positive.

Vietnam, meanwhile, confirmed three new cases on Thursday— all people returned from Wuhan — bringing its total to five. The patients, who are receiving treatment in Hanoi and Thanh Hoa provinces, are all in stable condition, Do Xuan Tuyen, deputy minister of health, said in a statement.

The United States evacuated 195 Americans from Wuhan who are being tested and monitored at a Southern California military base. A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said additional evacuation flights were being planned for Monday or surrounding days.

Mexican children pictured taking up rifles for community police force after cartel attack

Grupos de autodefensa juvenil para la victoria!

Children who have been recruited as soldiers in Mexico

I feel the need, the need for AKs.

Nearly two dozen Mexican children whose fathers, all musicians, were killed last week in an attack blamed on a drug cartel were photographed taking up arms for an indigenous community’s police force.

Around 20 children, who range in age from 8 to 14 years old, according to the BBC, were depicted holding rifles and carrying out military-style exercises in the town of Chilapa, 200 miles south of Mexico City.

A total of 10 musicians were killed in an ambush while returning home from a performance — and some of the boys in the photos are believed to be their sons, the BBC added…….

A group that represents local indigenous people told the BBC that the children are being trained to defend Chilapa from gangs. Community police forces are said to be common in the region.

Local media claimed the photos were taken to send a message to Mexico’s president that there needs to be more security forces sent there.

Powerful 7.7 Caribbean earthquake, shakes Miami buildings

Seems something tectonic is going on in the Caribbean.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake has been reported in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and Cuba, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake has been reported in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and Cuba, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The center of the quake was located about 73 miles northwest of Lucea, Jamaica. It was about 6 miles deep.

It’s not immediately clear if there is any damage or injuries. However, the earthquake caused very strong to severe shaking in portions of far western Jamaica, capable of moderate to heavy damage, the USGS said.

It also said moderate shaking was felt on Grand Cayman Island, while light shaking was reported on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

The quake was also felt as far away as south Florida, according to posts on social media. Buildings were being evacuated in Miami due to the quake.

Venezuela May Be Forced To Sell Off Its Oil Company… To Russia.

(Stop me if you’ve heard this one.) Venezuela is so broke…

HOW BROKE ARE THEY?

They’re so broke that they’re looking to sell their nationalized oil company to the private sector.

Okay, I won’t be giving up my day job for a career as a standup comic anytime soon, but this really isn’t a joking matter anyway. Back when Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Socialist Party took over that country, one of Chavez’s early moves was to finish locking down and nationalizing the nation’s oil industry. (Nationalization had originally begun under the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez back in the 70’s, but Chavez cemented state control of all assets.) It was a blow to their already crippled private sector, but it provided admirable income for the socialist regime for many years.

Now, as most of you are doubtless aware, the country has effectively been driven into bankruptcy by the corrupt administration of Nicolas Maduro. The only thing propping them up lately has been the Russian military and regular inputs of cash from China. Unfortunately for the Venezuelan people, that stream of revenue is probably coming to an end. The national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), is totally underwater. Maduro is obviously desperate because he’s been in talks with several international oil companies to discuss selling control of the operation. And one of the interested buyers is a Russian outfit, to the surprise of nobody. (Bloomberg)

Facing economic collapse and painful sanctions, the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has proposed giving majority shares and control of its oil industry to big international corporations, a move that would forsake decades of state monopoly.

Maduro’s representatives have held talks with Russia’s Rosneft PJSC, Repsol SA of Spain and Italy’s Eni SpA. The idea is to allow them to take over government-controlled oil properties and restructure some debt of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in exchange for assets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The proposal, which could offer a balm to the country’s disintegrating oil industry, is in early stages and faces major obstacles.

Venezuela still sits on one of the richest deposits of sweet crude oil in the world, but it’s not doing them much good currently. Maduro has robbed PDVSA blind and failed to fund the required maintenance and staffing to keep it functional. The company once produced more than 3.5 million barrels of oil per day. They currently struggle to produce even half a million and most of that has to go to pay the country’s mounting debts.

While the report indicates that Venezuela has been in talks with oil and gas companies from Spain and Italy as well, Russia is the most likely and obvious potential buyer. That’s because of a combination of factors. First of all, the Russians are already on the ground in the country and Maduro owes them a lot of money. But also, current sanctions forbid companies from most western nations, including the United States, from doing business with PDVSA or anyone else in Venezuela without a waiver. Russia can and probably would ignore those rules if it allowed them to seize control of Venezuela’s oil.

Further complicating matters is the issue of the Venezuelan constitution and laws requiring the oil assets to be the property of “the people.” Of course, Maduro has already rewritten the constitution to suit him and he controls the Supreme Court and his new legislative body so that probably won’t slow him down much.

Vladimir Putin might want to be a bit cautious here, however. There’s a significant risk in entering into any sort of business deal with a socialist nation like Venezuela. Maduro’s government is weak and impotent now, but if they somehow stabilize in the years to come, things could change. The socialists could, at some point, simply declare that the oil resources and assets are being taken back by the government without compensation. That’s what they did in the 70s and 90s, and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t do it again if they felt they could get away with it.

Alleged al-Qaeda Jihadis Caught Trying to Enter U.S. with Fake Colombian Passports

Woohoo Paul. Wazzup down there?

American authorities identified and apprehended three Syrian nationals accused of belonging to al-Qaeda in Dallas, Texas, from Colombia, the Colombian news agency RCN reported on Thursday, publishing images of the three individuals’ fake passports.

According to RCN, American law enforcement identified the three individuals as Al Raefee, Tuameh Tuameh, and Al Harari Al Harari. The three are believed to be in U.S. custody, soon to be charged with membership in a terrorist organization. The men appear to have entered Colombia through Venezuela, where they acquired Colombian residency paperwork, a government identification card, and a Colombian passport through an illegal documentation network.

Journalist Luis Carlos Vélez published images of the counterfeit passports on Twitter, noting that the men appeared to have crossed into Colombia through the La Guajira border crossing with Venezuela. Reports have not yet specified how the Syrians entered Venezuela or how long they had spent in the country after leaving Syria. Vélez reportedly stated that the U.S. embassy identified them as al-Qaeda terrorists when they attempted to procure U.S. visas, which does not align with the RCN report that police arrested them in Dallas. The RCN report does not note if Dallas authorities arrested them at the airport, which would suggest the men did receive U.S. visas and got onboard a flight to the country, or if they arrived by other means.