donderdag 30 april 2015


By Adriaan van Ginkel

Pictures speak louder than words. I kindly invite you to watch this video on YouTube before going on reading:

Have you watched it? Then you will understand what I am about to tell you. First, I agree with the contents of the documentary. It resumes everything we are living in Venezuela – “we” being the ones who refuse to be squashed into the mud by the totalitarian system being put in place. 1984, a book published by George Orwell after his return from many years in Stalinist Russia and subsequently forbidden in all Soviet-ruled or influenced countries like the tropical island of Cuba – I reckon it’s still prohibited there for obvious reasons – was meant to be a warning to humanity about the inhumanity of totalitarian regimes. It now has turned out, as I see it vividly in Venezuela, to be a very useful manual for subduing whole populations into brainless slavery. I thought it was an ironic joke by the Venezuelan government last year to change the name of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice to that of Interior, Justice AND PEACE, and create a vice ministry for Supreme Happiness. Now I know it wasn’t a joke. This is for real.

We in Venezuela are completely forgotten by the outside world after the bloody student unrests of 2014. The country itself hasn’t been forgotten. A territory holding the world’s largest oil reserves as well as the biggest gas reserves on the Western hemisphere, is simply too important to be overlooked. As you can learn from the documentary, he or she who controls this country controls a big part of the card deck of world politics. And since the US permitted themselves to be kicked out by Hugo Chávez, the others came in and set up their tents. Who “the others” are, you’ll know after you’ve seen the video. I won’t spend any more words on that. Only this: I completely agree with what it says, because it confirms everything I’ve witnessed personally since 1978, when it occurred to US president Jimmy Carter to kick faithful US ally Iran down the stairs and right into the 7th century AD. I was in the country back then, so no one needs to tell me otherwise. Watch the video and see what fine role the octogenarian Carter is still playing when it comes to setting up the New World Order.

As a historian, I recall the Abyssinian War of 1936, in which today’s Ethiopia was savagely attacked and invaded by fascist Italy. Ethiopia, as it turned out, was sold out by France and Great Britain to an increasingly warmongering Mussolini, promising help but doing nothing in the end. Because it was never the plan to aid a seemingly poor backward country and risk a minor European war with Italy. Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I, today’s idol of the Rastafarians, fled his destroyed country in 1936 and appeared before the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the precursor of the UN. He held a memorable speech that has slipped into oblivion nowadays, but that back then was seen as a slap in the face of the all-powerful Western colonial powers. He concluded his speech with the following prediction: today, it’s us [who are being attacked]. Tomorrow, it will be you.  In 1939, his prediction came true.

Today, we are commemorating 70 years of the actual end of that war that started in 1939. But it seems that, although we have learned in the past seventy years to hate everything Hitlerian or fascist, we have forgotten about the other side, i.e. the Soviet Union, its allies and offspring. And after apparently being defeated and pushed aside when the Wall came crashing down in 1989, that other side came back with a vengeance. They have made use of the lack of vigilance of the free democratic world, perfectioned their way of working themselves into power, and they are busy spreading their system of total rule all over the world. Winston Churchill once said that the anti-fascists of his day would become the fascists of tomorrow. Another prediction fulfilled, apparently. Because fascism, Nazism and communism share one common side of the medal, and that is Total Control. Over me, over you, over us all. And for all eternity.

Till now, Venezuela’s experiment has turned out to be successful. The people I witness on the streets stand numb in the queues in front of shops, barely coping with the scorching heat of these last days. The students are only on the streets of the Western state of Táchira, but news about that ongoing unrest is blacked out by the total government control over the media. How can you tell a government-controlled newspaper from a free one? The free one, if it’s still being published, has hardly any paper, four to six pages at the most, while the controlled newspapers are still thick with paper thankfully supplied by a regime in exchange for self-censure and total submission. We only know of the Táchira students thanks to Twitter and the few independent media struggling with bankruptcy. But if you follow the news on the national media, there is nothing going on over there. So Venezuelans and residents like me have no real clue what is going on in the country.  We all know that it’s getting harder and harder to cope with daily life, but many of us have no real idea why. It’s like the matter of the Holocaust and how the Nazi-era Germans coped with it. Many knew about it through own observation and information from others, but in the end, most discarded the horrific news as being “too huge, too improbable” to be a mass-murder run by their own state. And the same is now going on here.

It’s so hard to make a true Chavist, a believer in the Bolivarian Revolution, connect the dots he or she sees, and let them look at the whole picture. Most of them I talk to just refuse to draw conclusions and see that they are being run by a bunch of true gangsters posing as a government, stealing the oil revenue, living from it in Rockefellerian wealth or channeling the billions to anti-US groups with likewise goals as the regime in Caracas. I dare to make this statement, because even the biggest stealing criminal will at some point come to a point of saturation and say “it’s enough grabbing now”. If the oil revenues of Venezuela do not end up in bank accounts in Switzerland, Andorra or the Cayman Islands, then where do they go? We in Venezuela are living like the country is exporting only sand and mud, while we are sitting on the biggest oil reserves on planet Earth. More and more hospital wards are closing down because there is nothing to treat patients with. This has never happened before in this country. Haiti and Venezuela can shake hands now. 

Like in 1936, the world looks away at the disaster unfolding in Venezuela, made by her own government. There are too much interests, too many interested, wanting to pick a bone or two from the carcass that has become this country. And like in 1936, although I’m no emperor myself, I can tell you all from Venezuela: Today, it’s us. Tomorrow, it will be you.

And this concludes my news brief. I was happy to see that my blog was read on all continents, especially in the US, but no one of you has made any effort in following me all these months, making it clear to me that the topic Venezuela raises few eyebrows – like it was stated in the video. I would have been happy with some questions, even some bad comments, but I’m sorry to say that none of you who might read this blog, has made that effort. I spend a lot of energy and quite some precious time on my notebook to present a readable report on an ongoing situation that could well one day affect the situation in your own country. What is happening in Greece at this very moment and what might happen in Spain soon, is connected by strings to Venezuela, believe it or not. Although Cuba has capitulated to the Evil Empire, and Venezuela is a sinking ship, lab rats are busy transplanting this system to new host countries. One of these countries might well be yours. So, never say you weren’t warned!

Thanks for your reading. I hope one day to resume this blog, it was a pleasure writing it and noticing it being read through the statistics and some fine comments from friends. Till then, take care! From Venezuela, signing off…

© Adriaan van Ginkel 2015

dinsdag 21 april 2015

Refugee or Whatever?

By Adriaan van Ginkel

These last days the tragedy of scores and scores of refugees on rickety boats and vessels coming from North Africa has been the biggest international news item. Many don’t make it and drown in the choppy Mediterranean Sea, which is particularly tempestuous in spring.  Before I go on, I would like to express my deepest regrets at this human tragedy now taking place before a speechless European Union whose tongue seems to be stolen by some cat.

That said I would to ask you to divert your attention to the other side of the Atlantic. The picture I put here above was not taken in the Mediterranean, but in the Caribbean. And the refugees barely making it on their “boat” are Cubans. All these years, the world seems to have forgotten the constant stream of Cubans fleeing the so-called Sea Of Happiness of the Castro regime and risking their lives through shark-infested waters to make it to the US or anywhere where they can stay and live their lives as they choose. Which is the main goal of any true refugee fleeing his or her country. I’ll come back to the Cuban experience, but I first finish my line of thought on what is happening in Southern Europe.

Considering this thought of what drives true refugees, the world is full of them. Everywhere you look people are migrating on their own free will or wandering around as refugees because they see no other option. In both cases, the results are traumatic because no one – and I speak out of own experience – really wants to abandon their homeland. Migration, whether voluntary or forced, produces rootless people which constitute a sorry sight generally speaking. I hear of about 70 or more people drowning in the Mediterranean, and of another case in which twins were born on the high seas. One reads about children drowning in a capsized boat together with their parents, which happened just a day or two ago. My question in this particular case – the wave of people trying to reach Europe from the North African coast – is what pushes these desperate persons to risk it all, their lives and that of their children, to leave their home countries and reach a land that maybe doesn’t want them, if you consider carefully the anti-immigrant mood wandering about in the EU countries.

Curiously, no one even asks this question, let alone answers it. Even stranger, there is no movement from other navies to assist the Italian one in coping with the human tsunami hitting the coasts of Italy. Put a NATO aircraft carrier near Sicily and coordinate rescue operations from there, for crying out loud! What are they waiting for? The EU and the UN appear dumbfounded, mumbling and confused in trying to interpret a human tragedy that is filling coasts with drowned corpses. Being an avid news follower, I personally connect this refugee tragedy with what is happening in the Middle East - the slaughtering of the oldest Christian communities and other non-Arab or non-Islamic groups by blood-soaked ogres claiming to butcher in the name of Allah and Islam, producing an enormous wave of displaced Syrians and Kurds fleeing in front of their intended killers who are completely identified together with their ideas and their aims. And of course, those displaced people will try to get away from certain death and jump in leaky boats to get to the other side.

Now, Libya, a former dictatorship and at the same time one of the more stable Arab countries before the US decided to get rid of that crazy dictator (and get him lynched), splitting the country in at least two parts, has become the new stage for decapitating Christians. How did their murderers make the jump from Syria and Iraq to Libya? What is really happening in the Middle and the Near East? Has it anything to do with the civil war in Yemen? And what about the disturbing notion that before long, those butchers on the Libyan coast might make the same journey as the desperate boat people and jump over to Malta and Sicily, touching European soil?

I don’t know whether you get my point. I will explain it anyhow. My point is that beyond shedding our tears in synchronism with the world news media about yet another human tragedy, nothing has been done by anyone in averting this happening in the first place. No single government has called together a meeting of world and regional leaders to find out what the heck is going on in the Mediterranean and where these boat people come from. Are they all refugees, in the first place, or are there jihadists among them planning to cause mayhem in Europe? What did cause their desperate flight - the “Islamic State”, or the civil war ensuing from the fall of the Libyan Gaddafi regime years ago, or a combination of the two, or maybe something else? How can this refugee wave be stopped in a reasonable way, i.e. not blowing them out of the water? Questions to which no real answer has been given till now - have you noticed?

Now back to the Cubans fleeing their island. Their reasons are fully known for decades. Apart from the Tony Montana’s fulfilling their criminal version of the American Dream, most Cuban refugees just want to live a normal life outside the hunger prison island that Cuba has become since 1960. The US, being only 80 sea miles away, is the preferred destiny. There is of course a political factor – many of them have spent time in Castro’s prison system and have nothing to lose anymore there. In the early 1960’s, Cuban refugees were primarily fleeing from mass executions led by among others the “martyr of socialism” Che Guevara. In later decades they kept fleeing in mass from a life in hopeless poverty and political coercion / threat under Fidel Castro and his club. All this qualifies these Cuban boat people, according to UN standards, to be regarded as true refugees who try to improve their abysmal life situation and live in liberty. Unless you think these ordinary Cubans are CIA agents and should be locked away or shot (I know people who think that way), I hope you agree with me that one wishes these people the same life we wish for ourselves.

But why has the world looked the other way all this time? Is the human mask of the Castro regime stronger than the bloody facts behind it? Now, with the improvement of US-Cuban relations these days, a nagging voice keeps telling me that the situation of the Cuban refugees, who still try to flee an island in which nothing will really change for the coming years, will only get worse. Possibly one day they won’t be regarded anymore as refugees, but sent back to Cuba, something that has already happened in Panama quite recently. Good relations between the US and the Castro regime, especially if no Republican takes the White House in 2016, might mean that the door on Cuban refugees might close for good one day. And that Cuba might then evolve into a second North Korea from which it will be impossible to escape.

Yesterday I had to go to a pharmacy in Caracas, in the San Bernardino area, to buy some medicine for my poor mascot with a urinary problem. With the vet’s receipt in my hand, I parked my car and walked towards the pharmacy. There was a queue in front, of about seven persons. Normally, if there is a queue in front of a shop, regulated (=scarce) goods are distributed there piece-meal. But if you don’t want to buy any of these, you are free to enter the shop and buy whatever you want. Not with this pharmacy, however. There was even a Chavist militia member in full uniform standing next to the queue, adding a queer mood to the scene. I asked the people why there was a queue and added that I only wanted to get some medicine. The only answer I got was that I had to stand in the queue, regardless of what I wanted to do there. I asked whether they were selling regulated goods, but got no answer from anybody. I got behind a lady who started complaining in a desperate way to me about how Venezuela was going. I asked her why people were accepting that queue if there was no apparent need for it. She answered “Señor, people are getting accustomed to stand in a queue. Don’t you see that nobody even asks why?” Nevertheless, there was a discussion going on between the militia man and the other present persons about the abysmal situation in the country and who was to blame for it. The militia man blamed everyone against Chávez and Maduro of course, and everyone else told him to open his eyes and see who the true thieves are and where they can be found in the government. But I noticed that the people arguing were careful with their words. They clearly were afraid, as one of them commented to me later, that that guy in uniform would at a certain point grab his cellphone and call in some Guardia Nacional, resulting in nasty scenes already seen here and there, also by myself. No one wanted to end his day in a prison cell accused of disrupting the peace and being a paid agent of the opposition… 

At that moment it again became clear how Venezuela is steadily but surely becoming a clone of Castrist Cuba with minimal effort. Yesterday in San Bernardino, Caracas, a little guy in his fifties with a small moustache could evoke fear in a group of let’s say ten annoyed shoppers just by showing himself in full militia uniform. In some other country that man would have encountered a more forceful response. People don’t ask questions anymore, they just get in the queue. And every one with whom I speak converses in a hushed voice as if they could get arrested at any moment. Having been in Prague in 1990 just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and encountering people with the same distorted pattern of behavior as now in Caracas, the Orwellian mechanism of subduing whole populations by means of menace and coercion stands gleaming before me in Venezuela in all its totalitarian glory. To me, Venezuela is on a steady course that will lead to totalitarism. If people prefer hushing up and not asking questions to stand up and not accept the situation anymore, then democracy and freedom will become dead words here before you know it. I’m not pretending to be some Cold War freak, but I see it happening before my eyes. I was born and bred under the Cold War, on the Western side, and became aware of how the other side had to cope with totalitarian regimes. My whole Venezuela experience this last decade has been a déjà-vu experience of the Cold War with few new things added. And it keeps sounding more and more like a scratched record of that dark period.

Personally I think that with the near-impossibility for countless of Venezuelans to leave their country in a normal way, if even only for a short trip, the day will come that the world will see with astonishment how ordinary Venezuelans on boats and rafts will try to reach the nearby islands under Dutch rule, fleeing from a jail with invisible walls. Colombian contacts have already told me that there is a fear in their country that Colombia will soon become awash with Venezuelan refugees, coming over from the landside. But as it happens now, I guess that when that boat people day arrives and the Caracas regime will try to cover up the embarrassment, the world will just look the other way. Why endanger relations with a major OPEC member and trigger a minor economic crisis? Apart from some worried eyebrows here and there, the world governments and their media will ultimately leave Venezuela and her people to their fate, just as it has been done with the Cubans and with the incredible refugee tragedy in the Middle East. Things will only start moving, as it is happening right now in the Mediterranean, when dead people start floating right up to the front door of the West and something must be done to explain a tragedy that cannot be covered up anymore.  

I guess that for me and my family, it is getting time to move out before it’s too late. I will keep you posted on that!

Thanks for your reading. Please leave a comment behind or subscribe to my blog. Don’t miss it! Till next week!

© Adriaan van Ginkel 2015

woensdag 15 april 2015


By Adriaan van Ginkel

I have always been a movie fanatic. Especially the movies made before the wonders of digitalization started to enthrall audiences (destroying in their path the movie industry and putting scores of excellent actors out of work or forcing them to participate in mediocre TV series) will always keep my affection, because of the art, the acting and the work that was then present in the cinema of those pre-digitalized days.  

When there is an original version, I really don’t care that much for digitalized remakes. For example, the horror movie “Carrie” from 1976 with Sissy Spacek and a very young and skinny John Travolta will always have my preference over the remakes of 1987 or 2013, even though I consider Julianne Moore an excellent actress. Ms. Spacek had me jumping up half a meter from my chair at the end of the movie, something only few terror movies have accomplished in me. Or the original version of “Mariachi”, made with one video cam, a bunch of unknown actors and a fistful of dollars, which is really so much better than the multi-million dollar remake with Antonio Banderas, although again, Banderas is a fine actor. I draw for originality, always. 

Thus it was no small wonder that I got captivated by a brand-new reality show version of “Carrie”, played before world-wide TV audiences last week in the sunny and awfully hot republic of Panama. Move aside Sissy Spacek, there is a new star in town! The star’s new name is Nicolás Maduro, whose main professional occupation is being the “people president” (sic) of Venezuela, but apparently also likes to participate in dramatic productions once in a while. He made in clear over and over that he is no friend of the telenovela or Latin TV soap. His cadena interruptions for endless rambling speeches always take place during prime time TV, angering scores of telenovela fans including my wife. Maduro’s acting last week however made it 100% clear that Mr. Maduro was born for reality show. 

Maduro’s version of “Carrie” brought by courtesy of a very tolerant Panamanian government whose aim apparently was to get a billion-dollar debt paid back by Venezuela in exchange for some free-play time for the Venezuelan and Cuban delegations on national soil, was a true eye-opener. Maduro played, Carrie-style, the ugly girl rejected at the school dance. He shouted, screamed, stamped his feet, did everything to get the attention of that handsome tall dark man currently in a full-time job at the White House, but to no avail. US president Obama scoffed Maduro from beginning to end. It didn’t help that Maduro’s life-long pal Raúl Castro (stepping in for his brother Fidel in yet another memorable role) stood to his right to be Barack’s dance partner. And while Barack and Raúl sailed off into a romantic sunset, holding each other’s hands, Maduro was the rejected, resented and oh so angry ugly girl at the party. Maybe Castro’s delicate moustache was more appealing to our dark knight of the Northern Empire than Maduro’s Stalinist handlebar bush under his nose, who knows.  I personally would prefer Raúl’s suave manners to the Hulk-like screaming of our rejected Venezuelan dance partner. 

As we watched and saw how Maduro’s revolutionary acting, side-kicked by BBF Evo Morales of Bolivia (who always plays the same role, by the way), was turning into a Carrie-like spectacle, my wife and I knew that once the rejected lover came back to Venezuela with more than empty hands, hell would break loose over us all in the country, just like in the movie. And so it happened: Maduro blamed virtually everyone, including the TV channel CNN, for his failure at the diplomatic dancefloor. All these past days the bleary-eyed Venezuelan president appeared on prime-time TV, interrupting my beloved wife’s telenovela time once again last Monday, to belch out his hatred and disgust at everyone imaginable whom he blamed for everything going wrong with his gesture – except of course himself and his own political club. Aside from accusing the “ultra-right world conspiration”, their “lackeys” in Venezuela and of course “capitalism” for plotting to kill him (?) and sabotage the Bolivarian Revolution, he lashed out at the few Venezuelans still able to pay the exaggerated flight prices abroad, accusing half of them of cheating and stealing from the state and having caused the crisis. He ordered the cutting down of the amounts of dollars or euro’s that travelers are allowed to carry with them to practically zero, thanks to Kafkaesque bureaucratic measures impossible to cope with. The allowed amount to buy online has been bolted at US$ 300 a year, cut into three neat portions of a hundred each, to be spent only on “educational materials”. Bye-bye iPhone. He raged at private enterprise, insinuating he would fill the jails with businessmen. He thundered at a certain webpage for being the prime responsible for the skyrocketing black market dollar. And of course, he reserved his biggest poisoned arrows for what is left of the political opposition that is now cowering in fear in a corner and trying to come to terms with a president who has declared total war on them.

The measures taken by our vengeful Carrie did have instant effect: the black market dollar is now skyrocketing on that certain webpage, reflecting a panic among businessmen, shopkeepers and common Venezuelans travelers to get foreign currency. That will push all prices further up the coming weeks, fanning hyperinflation to an annual percentage raging between 90% and 150%. According to today’s reports, filling a monthly shopping cart of food only for a normal family will now require at least three and a half minimum wages – this month. We’ll see how May will turn out. The despair among people in the country is reaching new high levels, as I have clearly noticed. Last week, the association of Venezuelan psychiatrists warned about a heightened abnormal behavior within the population related to the stress, the anguish and the violent language flowing out of the warped mouths of Venezuelan Carrie and his comrades, and warned of unforeseen and undesired consequences for the national mental health. Tough message not endorsed at all, as you might well imagine, by the regime who maintains that everything is peachy in Venezuela. No single measure announced or taken by Maduro and his team to stem the economic disaster coming over us has had any positive effect till now, and I notice that more and more people on the street, even Chavists, are asking themselves if they are looking at a government in action, or a very macchiavelic show bent on warping people’s minds into wordless submission to a regime whose doubtful ability at basic governing has come beyond any discussion. 

As for me as a resident in this country, my mind is made up. No positive aspects can be seen or felt with Maduro’s gesture. The rejected ugly girl can blame even the sky and the galaxy for her ugliness, but it resolves nothing, least of all her ugliness. What I sense for the mid-term future in this country, is disaster. Around me, family and friends are desperate in finding ways how to feed and support their families. Many have given up leaving the country, since the government has done everything in making it impossible for the average Joe to get on a plane and join his second cousins in Spain. Professionals looking for a job abroad do get out, but that flow has become more and more a trickle. The regime’s unwillingness to pay the billionaire debt to the airlines - which has skyrocketed the airline fares to unpayable heights; the shutting down of the money flow to average travelers; and the imposing of absurd bureaucratic hurdles meant not to be overcome unless you’re connected to the regime, now makes sense to me, the whole package.

Maduro and his team are clearly busy cloning the Cuban experience on Venezuelan soil using psychological warfare on their own population. 56 years Castrist regime on impoverished Cuba at the advantage of a privileged leadership is maybe too much of a temptation for Maduro & Co. If no US “imperialistic” blockade is present, make one up. Bolt down the country from inside, making it impossible for hundred thousands of Venezuelans to leave the country – and blame greedy capitalism for it. Make your followers believe that the US army will invade Venezuela at any moment, like the US is willing to repeat the 1961 Bay of Pigs disaster. Keep saying every ten minutes on TV and radio that Venezuela will be destroyed by US bombers, like it happened in Panama in 1989. Go on evoking what happened with Chile’s Allende in 1973 to drive home the message that Maduro could be assassinated anytime by US agents. Watching the state media long enough will make you believe that an economic war is being waged by the US and the rightist politicians in Europe, meant to tumble the rightfully elected government of Maduro and destroy the country. I can now understand, as I live it day by day, what Cubans and North Koreans are going through day by day. It’s Orwellian brainwashing. It is the sole explanation why virtually all national media are either taken over by, financially destroyed or bent to the regime’s censuring will. And for those who resist being brainwashed, a dark future awaits them, as long as they cannot leave the country. I imagine that before long, desperate Venezuelans will try to escape the country on little boats and try to reach islands like Aruba or Curacao, only to be chased down by patrol boats sold by a Dutch government (my government) doing its very best to become friends with whoever is ruling Venezuela, even if it’s Dracula himself, in exchange for lucrative contracts. 
It’s a sad outlook for a country that not so long ago, was one of the richest, most modern and developed countries on the Western hemisphere, whose population, even the poor part, lived in relative wealth. No matter what today’s propaganda from Carrie’s media workshops tries to make you believe, most people were better off before 1999 than now. There is a saying popular in today’s Venezuela: we were happy, and we weren’t aware of it. Till it was too late. 

Thanks for your reading. Please leave a comment behind or subscribe to my blog. Don’t miss it! Till next week!

© Adriaan van Ginkel 2015