Monthly Archives: August 2018

Dragon gas, Geopolitics and Unanswered Questions: The Threat Horizon to T&T

Denial, Delusion and Dragon Gas

The level of denial and delusion plaguing the public discourse of the signing of a term sheet at Miraflores in Caracas on August 25, 2018 reflects the grave economic threats to the existing structure of the energy economy and its potential blowback on the nation of Trinidad and Tobago that are now finally in the public domain. The core reality nobody mouthing off in public on the Dragon gas supply deal intends or wants to deal with is the ability of Venezuela to comply with the contract yet to be signed especially the ability to erect the pipeline infrastructure to deliver the gas to the border with T&T.

Reality 1: The Maduro regime is the reason why the Venezuelan national system of production has collapsed and when combined with printing money like if it is a comic strip the wind sown is now the whirlwind that is endemic hyperinflation which now has a life of its own. Maduro and his regime has showed no competence in taming the beast they unleashed on Venezuela Sovereign Bolivar, Petro and all. For no matter how many times he raises the minimum wage rate hyperinflation erodes buying power where you are working but barely staving off hunger and those who are not working are indigent.

Reality 2: The Chavista movement who marshalled 6 million votes for Maduro in the May 2018 election made it abundantly clear that this was the last dance and he must now deliver. The Chavista movement is mobilising and with no change for the better only for the worse will move on Maduro and he will make the expected response to unleash the FANB on the Chavistas triggering the civil war. The US and the oligarchs will exploit this Chavista revolution to move both warring factions and put in place the return to the Punto Fijo oligarchy which will deepen the civil war into the destruction of the social order where Venezuela as a nation, a geographic expression and a hegemonic State will cease to exist. The present reality of Nicaragua gives just a glimpse of what is next for Venezuela.

Reality 3: Maduro and his crew are now increasingly indicating to the Chavista Movement that in their desperation to hold on to power at all costs they are now practising, willing Chavista revisionists and apostates. In the signing ceremony of the term sheet for Dragon gas Maduro is reported as calling on Shell to invest in Venezuela’s oil and gas resources and an agreement was signed with Shell International on the Dragon gas August 25, 2018 occasion for Shell providing services to PDVSA in the oil industry. What must be noted is that there was just one report in the Maduro line Chavista news outlet on the Saturday 25 August 2018 event and in that report in Correo del Orinoco what Maduro said was not reported in detail at the event and there was no report on the contract signed between Shell and PDVSA at the event. Given the history of Shell, the proposed LNG plant in Sucre state utilising Mariscal Sucre gas and Chavez Maduro is now in deep apostasy hence the reason why the details of the Dragon gas supply infrastructure and the role of Shell remains a secret both in Venezuela and T&T. Why is Shell presently in Venezuela selling services to PDVSA in the oil industry in Monagas when every major player in the oil services industry both local and international have been burned by PDVSA? Given the drastic and destructive fall in oil production Shell is now indicating that it is now acting out a gambit in Venezuela. To what end?

Reality 4: PDVSA and Maduro simply does not have the money to erect the infrastructure to move Dragon gas to the border with T&T. This investment to move and sell just 150 million standard cubic feet of gas per day can be better invested in raising the daily oil production which is presently struggling to reach 1 million barrels per day on a sustainable basis. Is Shell then building the entire pipeline from the Dragon platform in Venezuelan waters to the Hibiscus platform in T&T waters? If so, WHY? If this is the reality, then it has to redound to the benefit of the bottom line of Shell and to do this there must be greater volumes of Venezuelan gas flowing to Atlantic to increase the volume of LNG Shell reaps to sell on the world market. Shell has publicly indicated its desire to be the hegemonic LNG trader on the world market and to do this it has to increase its output of LNG in the West. Shell can then be playing a long term gambit in Venezuela to get its hands on offshore gas for transport to T&T. Quite a risky gambit given the reality of Venezuela. The best outcome for Maduro is to transport Mariscal Sucre gas to Atlantic for processing to LNG and then sharing in the proceeds of its sale. Is this realisable? Can he sell this apostasy in the reality of Venezuela given his track record of dismal failure? Let him try for the reality will then be on the streets allowing us in T&T to finally get the full picture. The fundamental reality is if this gambit is realised then T&T becomes a colony of Venezuela with the Armada anchored in the Gulf to protect Venezuela’s national interests. This will then play into the strategy to marginalise a very close neighbour to the East which is considered in Chavista discourse a FOL for the US in its war on Venezuela. This Chavista position was illustrated in the manner the press core from T&T was treated at Miraflores during the signing ceremony. Simply another victory for Maduro who considers himself the premier foreign minister of the Chavista revolution and in the history of Venezuela. The carefully stage managed affair of 25 August 2018 was the message to the Chavistas that under his astute leadership the threat to the East was now manageable as they are begging with their tongues on the ground for our Chavista gas and they are in play so don’t worry about the details the revolution is in ascendency. That is Maduro’s gambit and T&T is being squeezed between a series of gambits that care nothing about our future wellbeing especially in light of the crisis at Petrotrin.

Will Shell purchase Rosneft’s interests in the other blocks of the Mariscal Sucre fields to facilitate the extraction of Venezuelan gas to be sent to Atlantic thereby sharing the proceeds with Maduro? Is Shell purchasing from PDVSA the full load of gas from Dragon shunting its share to Atlantic and selling the rest to NGC? The owner of the cricket gear controls the cricket game and can never be given out. We need answers!

Reality 5: The message from CORPOVEX to the exporters of T&T who fell for the three card hustle that is perpetuated on suppliers the world over is that no agreement is sacred and enforceable in Venezuela. Most of all this is a message for the T&T government who are speaking in public as if an agreement with Maduro’s Venezuela is inviolate and sacred when in fact it is expendable in the mad scramble for political survival. Cut up, rip off and stab in the back are the order of the day just listen to the farmers of Venezuela created by the Revolution who must buy seeds from Agropatria imported by Corpovex and the devastation unleashed on them by State bureaucratic capitalism that is now legal banditry. The state public transport buses are parked up in Venezuela for lack of tyres now you know why. Those exporters waiting for your outstanding 20% of the invoice amount just forget that for it is the tax levied for doing business with Maduro’s Venezuela. CORPOVEX is part of the Maduro dance where you dig holes to fill holes and those willing to stay in the dance are now getting less and less gravely intensifying the crisis. There are now reports that allege that Maduro is defaulting on his commitments to his very small group of allies as China and Russia whilst we rush into the Maduro dance where we are dancing alone with no music and the dancehall landlord with a bailiff and police ready to close down the dance, evict everybody and seize the premises. This willingness illustrates the depth of the crisis facing T&T presently.

Reality 6: There is a geopolitical price to pay for being a willing participant of the Maduro gas dance and one potent entry point for the backlash is the over USD 800 million bubble payment due on the Petrotrin debt in 2019. Closing down the refinery and placing a significant number of workers on the breadline can in this geopolitical game be insufficient raw meat for the dogs of war. For the dogs of war can demand the application of a deep austerity package to government expenditure in order to qualify for what we seek. Accept the terms, default on the debt or pay the debt when due such is the nature of the game. What then do we surrender in order to evade the hardball? The party now start! So much for being sovereign! Those who looking for a miracle from Maduro to offer a lifeline to the refinery for toeing the Maduro line remember Maduro don’t even have the daily oil production to satisfy his commitments to his closest allies and note carefully what has happened to the Isla refinery in Curacao under the control of PDVSA. On all sides denial and delusion!

http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/primer-ministro-keith-rowley-venezuela-tiene-potencial-gasifero-para-exportar-y-cubrir-el-mercado-interno/

http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/18766/maduro-tiendo-mi-mano-a-shell-para-que-invierta-sus-recursos-en-venezuela

http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/presidente-maduro-la-proxima-semana-se-abrira-ronda-de-negociacion-con-empresas-en-el-campo-gasifero/

http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/venezuela-esta-de-puertas-abiertas-a-la-inversion-internacional-en-el-campo-petrolero/

“Manufacturers unpaid for Venezuelan exports-TTMA” Raphael John-Lall Trinidad & Tobago Guardian 25 August 2018

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The Ganja Market in T&T 2018, the Ganja Wars and the Escalating Murder Rate!

The Marijuana/Ganja Illicit Drug Market of Trinidad and Tobago-2018

Daurius Figueira

The Dynamic Relationship between Demand and Supply

Demand

From the decade of the 1990s to 2018 demand continues to grow for ganja in spite of the appreciable slowing of population growth, the consequent aging of the population and the prohibition environment that encapsulates the use of ganja by persons.

Ganja is the premier illicit drug of the illicit drug market outstripping crack cocaine by an appreciable lead as crack cocaine is a sunset drug in the areas of T&T where the crack epidemic swept through in the 1980s primarily in the East-West Corridor. And in other areas of T&T outside of the East-West Corridor generational choice and preference for ganja have resulted in ganja being the drug of choice and rapid growth in these areas also.

From the 1960s to 2018 the discourse of ganja use has evolved through three phases/evolutions which illustrate the evolution of the discourse of ganja use which drives demand and why demand continues to grow in the 21st century despite prohibition. The present phase of the Digital Generation is different from the two preceding phases in that this generation has debunked the discourse of ganja prohibition and now accepts ganja use as a strategic lifestyle choice that contributes to their wellbeing i.e. health, emotional stability, fitness to produce, to compete, to be a success, the human they desire to be in the social order. They view the discourse of prohibition as a lie foisted on them to propagate a lifestyle that will simply not work for their happiness. The discourse of prohibition then has no credibility and no resonance with them.

Members of all race/class groups of the social order of T&T use ganja. Ganja use in T&T is not the preserve of a specific race/class group or a geographic area this is a false picture generated by the manner of policing of ganja possession in T&T.

Demand for ganja is chasing supply in 2018 and the combination of local production and imports from abroad is failing to create a balance between demand and supply. Prohibition, the consequent policing and punishment have singularly failed to reduce demand whilst raising the price of the product, boosting the profits made by transnational and organised crime and criminalising those who are charged and found guilty for simple possession.

It is estimated that demand is presently outstripping supply by 2-3 to 1 i.e. for very spliff, or ounce or one quarter of an ounce of ganja available for sale actual demand is for 2-3 spliffs, 2-3 ounces and one half to three quarters of an ounce which is a conservative estimate. This disequilibrium is as a result of the realities of the supply side one of which is not potent State interdiction. The size of the demand for ganja, the fact that demand is chasing supply and the relative supply shortfall in T&T has now generated the Ganja Wars from 2013 to 2018 which have and continue to significantly escalate the level of violence, especially gun violence, in the social order.

The market disequilibrium is driving up the price point of ganja on the retail market which is now stratifying the market into haves and have nots on the consumption side when combined with the shortfall in supply. The upward movement in the price point in the face of a supply shortfall expressed through shortages especially of plantation grade ganja is escalating the level of violence even more as the have nots are motivated to violently seize product from the haves at all levels of the market from one spliff upwards. For the first time in the history of ganja consumption in T&T since the 1960s ganja users find themselves being stratified as a result of the rising prices and availability where the issue of affordability arises, your ability to pay. The monopoly of transnational and organised crime over the supply side of the market is now stratifying the market whilst restricting supply to maximise profits which intensifies demand and unleashes a wave of violence in the social order that is now a spiral in spite of prohibition and policing.

Supply

In T&T today imports dominate the supply side but both local production and imports cannot satisfy demand because of the operational realities of supply not interdiction.

All ganja is simply not the same there are grades with a price range attached. As the potency rises combined with taste, effect and manner of cultivation the price escalates. The base retail grade is the planation grade and then there are the higher priced grades in an upwards price point movement. In T&T whilst the high priced grades are always available the lower end of the market is constantly squeezed of supply to satisfy mass demand. This is because of the dynamics of supply via foreign production from the Caribbean where the international demand for Caribbean high potency organic ganja has resulted in investment in the production of this grade rather than in mass market grades. At USD 4,000 to 6,000 per pound for Caribbean high potency, organic ganja in New York City the squeeze on production for the lower end is potently illustrated which means that this supply squeeze to the T&T ganja market is for the long haul as it is tied in to demand in the North Atlantic.

The retail prices in T&T express this supply side reality where a spliff/joint is now TTD 25 and an ounce/28 grams of imported Kush is TTD 600 with one quarter of an ounce/7 grams of Kush for TTD 150. The price point is now being pushed upwards to change the cost structure of the retail business to maximise profits in the face of a supply shortfall. The supply side is then inviting non-traditional suppliers to enter the market to supply demand for plantation grade ganja which will deepen supply side derived violence especially if the new suppliers are not affiliates of transnational and organised crime thereby depriving these powerful hegemonic groups on the supply side of their share of the proceeds. This reality is showing signs of impact on the market already in 2018 and if it continues it will escalate in the period 2018 to 2020 markedly contributing to growing violence levels.

At a cost of TTD 22 per gram it is now cheaper to sprang/smoke crack in T&T rather than ganja which is clearly an indication of abundant supply of powdered cocaine in spite of visibly declining demand versus the continuing shortage of ganja in spite of escalating demand. What is also apparent is that a spliff will now contain no more than a gram of ganja for which the client will pay more to encourage purchases by the ounce and a quarter of an ounce.

A ganja market in a chronic state of disequilibrium as that of T&T is also motivating the supply of synthetic cannabis as Spice and K2 which is available on the market. These synthesised THC chemical compounds can be sold cheaper than the going rate for herbal ganja enabling the creation of a supply of poor man’s ganja as crack was to powdered cocaine with the grave damaging impacts on human health arising from these compounds.

The export of Caribbean ganja to Europe has established the counter flow of cannabis resin/Hashish especially of Moroccan origin to the West Indies where hashish is now available on premium ganja markets of T&T which has impacted the Ganja Wars of T&T and the Eastern Caribbean.

The Lessons to be Learnt from the Market

Prohibition has failed to dampen the demand for ganja whilst it has boosted the profits of transnational and organised crime.

The discourse of prohibition has been rejected by the most strategic generation in the history of T&T given the slowing of population growth and the consequent aging of the population. The response of prohibition to this challenge is to continue criminalising members of the social order for simple possession whilst much more damaging drugs to human life and the GDP of T&T are perfectly legal.

Male members of the working class and the underclass are overrepresented in the prison population on remand charged with possession of ganja. This indicates the policing of marijuana use and possession as social control not the suppression of crime.

The Ganja Wars and their escalation demand an intervention at the heart of the ganja market that will change the nature of the market where the grip of transnational and organised crime on the supply side will be challenged and loosened. The de-escalation of violence especially gun violence in T&T today demands a strategically formulated intervention informed by the dynamics of the market that will immediately impact and change the supply side of the ganja market within the shortest time frame possible. Prohibition will escalate the violence and further entrench transnational and organised crime’s hegemony over the supply side of the market and the social order of T&T will pay the price in blood.

The Intervention

The supply side of the market and the impact it generates on the social order presently demands an intervention that impacts the supply side for the better in the shortest time frame possible. This excludes legalisation as its implementation is a long and tedious process that offers no immediate relief as we learnt from the case of Uruguay. The impact intervention is then structured as follows: decriminalisation of possession of 28 grams of ganja or less for personal use, the ability of all adults in T&T to cultivate seven ganja plants and use the ganja produced for solely personal use and to expunge the criminal record of all those found guilty of possession of 28 grams of ganja or less and end prosecution of those presently charged for possession of 28 grams or less. Within 3-5 months the supply side will be impacted and changed thereafter forcing transnational and organised crime to change their supply strategy for the local market which when in train will impact the level of violence and subsequently reduce it. This intervention provides the platform for legalisation where the ganja industry can now become a licit industry contributing to the maintenance of the State and contributing to social peace.

 

 

©Daurius Figueira 2018

The Message Sent by Stef Blok to Antilleans and the Antillean Diaspora

The Message of Minister Stef Blok to All Non-White Peoples of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok presents a potent message to all non-white peoples of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This message has multiple instruments of power that illustrate the strategy that is in motion which makes it obvious that the PVV and Geert Wilders are in opposition but their discourse is in government in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Blok presents the position that all non-white peoples present in the Netherlands present an existential threat to the Dutch white race. The flood of non-white races into the Netherlands will eventually attain demographic critical mass and the Dutch will become a minority in their native land, their culture, identity, language, religion therefore all that identifies and signifies the Dutch as a significant European ethnic group will be diluted, bastardised and eventually rendered extinct. Dutch culture and identity will be immersed in a sea of alien non-European smells, sights and sensibilities and the genetic code of the Dutch will be polluted with a mass of the Miscegenated the product of procreation across the racial divide. Blok is visualising the Netherlands then rapidly evolving a demography, a cultural landscape and a worldview of a colonial state where Dutch hegemony over the social order will be challenged and eventually overthrown by non-white peoples. Blok is gripped with racist supremacist paranoia which projects and feeds upon racist fear, fear of a black Holland, fear that demands political action to pre-empt this landscape of white genocide in its ancestral land which is the product of the action of liberal beliefs. Blok is insisting that liberal beliefs are posing grave existential threats to the sustainable hegemony of the Dutch over the Netherlands and his target is multiculturalism. The reference he makes to the decimation of the original population in a multicultural society is the use of the white model of decimating the Native Peoples replacing them with themselves, transporting non-whites into this white dominated society, the immigration of non-whites to the point where the white demographic dominance is now in train a given. Blok is now using the example of the USA in a myopic manner to present the evidence for the need for white racist paranoia of the impending demographic holocaust in the North Atlantic. For Blok the white genocide waged on the Native Peoples, the transport of millions of enslaved Africans and the use of non-white migrant labour to lower the price of labour are all expressions of white entitlement, manifest destiny and the blowback from these actions must not impact the hegemony of the white race. The white race then stands absolved from cause, effect and the blowback thereof. In the second decade of the 21st century Blok is speaking straight out of the 18th century racist colonial imperialist playbook. Blok exemplifies this with his position on Suriname a former Dutch colony whose social order today is the product of Dutch colonial conquest, decimation of the Native Peoples, the transport of enslaved Africans followed by the transport of immigrant Asians from the Dutch colonial empire to Suriname for the benefit of the Dutch colonial enterprise. When it was no longer profitable the Dutch left Suriname to find its own way totally unprepared for the challenges of existence as an ex-colonial State. But Blok accepts no guilt for the impact of Dutch colonial domination on Suriname what he is in fact insisting is that with the departure of the Dutch Suriname collapsed and it’s now a failed state because of the disappearance of the white colonial order of the master race that ensures peace, security and development. Hence with the eventual demise of the Dutch and their hegemony over the Netherlands it will be replaced by a failed state, a post-apocalyptic waste land, a Suriname.

To pre-empt this visualised landscape of white genocide Blok gestures to the Eastern European solution where non-white peoples are violently assaulted, purged and they simply disappear from the streets from the social order. Blok is letting the Final Solution jinn out of the bottle. Blok juxtaposes an entirely different landscape to Eastern Europe with what exists in the Netherlands specifically in The Hague where those who live in the affluent neighbourhoods simply don’t know the reality of the daily life of Dutch people who live with immigrant populations in the less affluent neighbourhoods of The Hague. The affluent consider visiting immigrant businesses in these neighbourhoods as being multiculturalism in action, an indication of their liberalism because they don’t live there, simply tourists, and are not impacted by the nature and demands of life in these transition zones where the Dutch order, culture, lifestyle and worldview are under assault and even an alien intruder. Blok is peddling a strident white supremacist discourse of racist paranoia where a specifically formulated racist fear is the instrument to motivate political action of various types. This specific racist fear insists that the non-whites in the Netherlands pose a grave threat which must be handled by: stemming the flow of migrants, repatriating those already in the Netherlands who don’t fit into white culture and order and resist integration into the Dutch way of life and policing heavily the population of non-whites in the Netherlands to defuse the threat posed. More and more expressions of difference will be barred from public spaces by legislation heightening the policing of non-white difference thereby preparing the way for the purge.

What is now apparent is the fact that in the politics of the Netherlands the politics of the PVV and Geert Wilders is the mainstream with Wilders fighting to command the discursive momentum as politicians of the ruling coalition are willing to articulate a discourse of racist paranoia tailored for mass consumption. Blok was simply using a focus group to articulate and sound out the reactions of the audience when it was recorded and leaked. Such actions will not stem the multiplication and traction of this discourse in the politics of the Netherlands as it changes the nature of the political order of the Netherlands. What is apparent is that the Netherlands is now well on its way along the path to the embrace of the worldview of National Socialism in keeping with this trend in the North Atlantic in the second decade of the 21st century.

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/07/dutch-foreign-minister-under-fire-after-crude-multicultural-society-comments/

https://www.rt.com/news/433645-dutch-fm-multicultural-societies/

The message of Stef Blok must be seen in the context of the PVV bill laid in the Second Chamber of the Parliament of the Netherlands in June 2018 which called for the deportation of convicted criminals holding Dutch citizenship of Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten origin back to these countries. Even though the PVV bill was defeated in the Second Chamber the VVD, the SP, the CDA, the D66, the PvdA and the SGP all agreed that “Antilleans” were overrepresented in the crime statistics in Holland and it was time to intervene in this matter. What is now apparent is that the involvement of persons of origin from the former Netherlands Antilles is a political hot button issue with all the major parties insisting that it is a pressing social problem that must be dealt with. The PVV is now defining the debate as it sets the agenda for a hard response which decreases the wiggle room of the rest of the political parties in the Parliament which will result in persons of Dutch Antillean origin being faced with further marginalisation as result as they are all branded criminogenic. This is the thin edge of the wedge strategy to single out a small diasporic group for special treatment which opens the way to assault the Surinamese and Moroccan diasporas. Which indicates to the majority electorate that the politicians are dealing with the threats posed by the race minorities. A good cop/bad cop political game is being played to mask the common discourse of the threat posed by race minorities to Dutch culture and security held by politicians across the political spectrum from the PVV to the VVD and the rest. The Blok expose placed this reality in the public domain aptly illustrated by the fact that it is still business as usual after the expose. Holland is now indicating all the signs of a social order where hegemonic discourse is in disarray potently illustrated by the failing legitimacy of its hegemonic discourse on the ground driving the knee jerk resort to paranoid, racist fear. Breathe new life into the State end the hegemony of austere neoliberalism that is strangling the State and exercise power on the ground that is the needed response. Paranoid racist pogroms will not fortify the citadel of Dutch culture and security for the State is moribund and on its knees and it will hasten its demise. The politicians of Holland will then apply the British model of the commonwealth to deny Dutch citizenship to those born in the legacy of the Dutch colonial experiment and legislate for Holland very convoluted pathways and obstacles to those seeking to acquire Dutch citizenship. The myth of liberal multicultural Holland is now dead and the masked reality of racism is now openly displaying its fangs.

https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77398-no-support-for-pvv-s-proposal-to-banish-criminal-antilleans