What Do You Know About Venezuela? Week of 3/26 & 4/1/2019
The Latin American country of Venezuela has been in the fore front of many a news articles lately. What makes this country so news worthy? With a questionable Presidential election last year (which many worldwide are calling foul play) and an economy that has inflation rates souring to incredible numbers, masses of Venezuelan′s are leaving their country in hope for a better life elsewhere.
A brief history: In 1499, an explorer by the name of Amerigo Vespucci (North and South America were named after him), navigated through the water ways close to the land mass, toward the top of what we call today, South America. He was impressed with the calmness of the waters and gave it the name, Little Venice—or Venezuela. Technically, the land was discovered by Christopher Columbus a year prior, but due to sickness he was not able to explore it.
The Spaniards colonized Venezuela until 1810/1811, when the nationals desired independence which did not come until 1821. Venezuela, along with Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama formed the Independent Republic of Gran, but, due to internal jealousies the republic broke up and in 1830 Venezuela became an independent nation. By the early 1900′s, Venezuela was ruled by humane military leaders who promoted the privatized oil industry (Venezuela′s biggest money maker) and allowed for some social reforms. By 1959, they democratically elected their government officials and by 1961 established a constitution. Venezuela was considered the pearl of Latin America—a lovely place to visit and live.
Fast forward to 1999; a controversial leader, Hugo Chavez, emerged creating a new constitution for the country and bringing with him socialism—which he described as a balance between communism and capitalism. Those changes in the constitution eventually allowed him to run for President as many times as he desired, made more seats for his political party (to insure he was elected President) and shut down free press. He nationalize his country′s largest natural resource—oil, and instead of investing that money back into his people he sent it to aid terrorism in Columbia and help Cuba′s failing government.
From the start, he made friends with Cuba′s Fidel Castro, whose battle cry was known worldwide, “Socialism or death”—a real inspiration to revolutionaries like Hugo Chavez. Cuba′s leader and the younger Venezuelan commander were very close. President Chavez said, “Fidel to me is a father, a comrade, a master of perfect strategy.” As a loyal political son, Chavez supplied Cuba with cheap oil at a time when Cuba was feeling the blues due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and U.S. trade embargos. In return, President Castro sent medical aid and personnel to help the Venezuelans.
After President Chavez died in 2013, his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, took over and continued the socialist rule. He was handed a 50% inflation rate and made it worse—it is estimated to rise to 10,000,000% this year (the U.S. inflation rate for 2017 and 2018 was about 2.1%). Presently, the country is facing a tremendous humanitarian crisis. Daily citizens are leaving by the thousands—fleeing a collapsing economy, corruption (Venezuela is considered the 9th most corrupt country in the world), power failures, hunger and an increasingly repressive socialist regime. This has created the largest migration crises in Latin American history. Even so, the Venezuela government will not allow humanitarian aid (including much needed medicines) to come from Governments they deem hostile—this includes the United States—so, their people suffer.
But why?—Venezuela has many natural resources. Some include petroleum, natural gas, gold, bauxite (the principal ore of aluminum), iron ore, diamonds and hydroelectric power (defined as electrical power that is generated through the energy of flowing water). Their greatest resource globally is petroleum or crude oil. They own the CITGO gasoline company which is based in America under the name of PDV America, Inc. But, all these resources mean nothing in the hands of corrupt socialist leaders.
Herein is where it gets really interesting to Bible Prophecy folks. During the Chavez era, Venezuela and Russia became allies (not surprising seeing their amiability toward Castro); Russia made many loans to the cash deprived nation. And not only Russia, China also has been very generous with loans estimated at $70 billion dollars since 2008 in exchange for oil. (China has been more fortunate then Venezuela′s other creditors. They have been paid on time for many of their loans.)
However, in spite of all the financial aid over the years, Venezuela is still not economically stable. In 2017, the country was in debt to the tune of $120 billion dollars (a small amount by U.S. standards, whose debt exceeds $22 trillion). At that time, with no way for Venezuela to cover the bonds, Russia renegotiated $3 billion dollars in Kremlin loans. Add to that a 49.9% interest in the Venezuela CITGO oil company, three Gulf Coast refineries and a countrywide web of pipelines all for the small cost of $1.5 million dollars. However, when Russia heard that China had been paid for their loans and Venezuela had just renegotiated their bonds with Russia—Russia had the upper hand.
Over the many years Russia has established an amiable relationship with the elite of Venezuela. Russian advisors currently are counseling the Venezuelan government on how to overcome the U.S sanctions against their currency. They are helping them to create a digital currency (the Petro) that will allow oil payments to creditor thereby out maneuvering the U.S. sanctions. Venezuela also has a weapons agreement with the Russian bear buying her guns, tanks and planes—evidence (at least to President Maduro) that Venezuela is a fortress—with Russia′s help.
With such foreign interest in the Latin American country (we did not mention all the other Middle East countries that are aliening themselves with Venezuela); one can certainly see that a change of government would be financially catastrophic for these lenders. But, Russia is more than just a financial friend to Venezuela—they are also military allies. That means they can enjoy having joint military exercises together and, even more pleasing to Russia (here is where the upper hand lies), a Military base in the western hemisphere. Currently, there is authorization for the Russians to build a military base on the island of La Orchila in the Caribbean Sea. The Russians were interested in placing “military aircraft within reach of key Western Hemisphere locations” according to Venezuela′s NTN24, quoting the Russian news agency. Within reach would mean about 1,350 miles from Key West and (as the crow flies) about 3196 miles from Washington, DC. Recently, there were two Russian Tu‐160 bombers (also known as Blackjacks) housed at Maiquetia International Airport outside Caracas (the capital of Venezuela). These bombers, unlike the American b‐1, do not need to fly into enemy air space. These aircraft need only to position themselves as launching platforms. The missiles they use can vary; in Syria, they used the MKB Raduga H‐101 cruise missile, which is thought to have a range between about 2,800 miles to 3,400 miles and have either non‐nuclear or nuclear tips. The aircraft can reach speeds of over Mach 2.0. Due to pressure from the U.S. these planes have been sent home, but, obviously more will be returning. The Russians have said, “We will never leave (Venezuela), and no one will be able to kick us out.” “We will keep expanding our cooperation.”
Relating all of this to Bible Prophecy is easy. Both the U.S. and Russia are preparing for war with each other—something that has not happened in over 34 years. However, in just two years, relations between the two countries have deteriorated, mostly due to U.S. politicians continuing to accuse the Russians of tampering in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election process. The fate of America and Russia, according to Scripture, is bleak. Check out this link for more.
What will you do if you get a text that your city only has 7 minutes until enemy missiles arrive? Jesus Christ died on the cross so you would have hope. Check out this link if you are interested.
Sources: thoughtco.com; worldatlas.com; britannica.com; businessinsider.com; ndtv.com; ijr.com reference.com; wisegeek.com; forbes.com; truthorfiction.com; indepthinfo.com; washingtonpost.com; bloomberg.com; bloomberg.com; washingtonpost.com; worldcrunch.com; thebalance.com; warontherocks.com; freemaptools.com; nationalinterest.org; popularmechanics.com; breitbart.com; nytimes.com.
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Then and Now Week of March 18 2019
Two centuries ago, the era of the 1900′s, the world not only relied on newspapers as their source for what was happening around the world, but also watched their news through newsreels. Newsreels were short documentary films viewed at either a theater or hall. These reels usually were at the beginning of a movie (or during the intermission) and reported on topics like parades, inaugurations, all manner of contests and catastrophes. During the Great World Wars they provided the spectators with hot off the press military intel and humanitarian narratives. Prior to WW2, and after WW1, Germans were even viewing American movies. Once the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, took office he greatly influenced the Hollywood industry, as he saw it as a means of cultural power—the ability to shape what people think. And American studios allowed him to control the content of their films for the love of money (which is the root of all evil)—Germany was the world′s second largest movie market. Until the 1940′s, Hitler dictated to Hollywood′s (often Jewish) bosses what would be acceptable for the world to see—thereby forming opinions and covering up certain atrocity done to the Jews. Since WW2, there have been many people that have studied the life of Hitler and set out to discover how he lost the war. Where did he go wrong? This knowledge would be a powerful weapon in the hands of those who wish to dictate control over the masses.
Just as in Hitler′s day, people of this age are hungry for information. But today, there is not just one news source out there (unless you live under a Communist government). There are not just two news sources—in the free world there are many people reaching out to audiences over the internet proclaiming their opinion—becoming the moral voice of the world—trying to dictate, persuade and adulterate what is right or what is wrong. A person can be easily deceived. According to Webster′s dictionary of 1828, deceive means‐to mislead the mind; to cause to err; to cause to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to impose on; to delude.
Today, truth has become relative—relative to whatever a person believes, or relative to circumstances—not according to what is factual or true. Does absolute moral truth exist? A poll done by the Barna Group, in January 2000, found that 38% of adult Americans believed that absolute truth existed—it was constant, unchanging; however, by November 2001 (just 23 months later), the polls showed that only 22% of adult Americans believed that there is absolute truth. In 1999, American teens raised in evangelical homes were polled, 70% said there is no absolute moral truth, and 48% believed the religion a person practiced was not important because all religions teach the same principles and truths. Even though these teens were brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and in many cases attended good Bible believing schools, due to their exposure to social media, they are picking and choosing what parts of their faith they want to believe as not to offend any of their media friends. Absolute truth is something that is true at all times and places, for example a square is never round and 2 + 2 = 4, not 6. What kind of society do you procure when most of the younger population does not base their beliefs on anything specific because they do not want to offend?
How does this relate to Bible Prophecy? The Scriptures give clear indications on how people will be in the latter days. It is written, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths‐2 Tim 4:3,4. We are now in the computer age, and through the interconnection of computers and the various components of the “information highway,” knowledge is increasing at an astounding rate. But this knowledge is not necessarily based on truth. As in the days of Babel, we can see that nothing may be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. This has a special meaning in the latter day prophecies leading up to and including the Tribulation. Man′s language is again becoming one, the language of the computer. Mankind is again becoming one; public opinion day by day is becoming one voice. Those who oppose their views are the haters and should be eliminated—then there will be peace on earth. Take heed when you hear, Peace, peace. And when you see Israel sign a peace treaty with the Anti‐Christ and hear, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. Even if you do not believe this, it does not mean it is not going to happen. Are you really ready for what lies ahead? Check out this link for an idea of what awaits you.
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Politics—A Dirty and Dangerous Business Week of March 4 & 11/2019
Politics has always been a dirty and dangerous business. From slanderous accusations to ridicule and distasteful remarks (or worse—physical abuse) politicians usually have one particular goal—to win public support.
Next month voters in Israel will go to the polls and elect a candidate that will, in their opinion, best lead their country. This election cycle is expected to be a more accelerating election than most. The two favored choices are the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu′s party, the Likud party (which is center‐right) or the new popular, just created, (center‐left) party called the Blue and White. It is considered that PM Netanyahu will not have an easy slide regaining the Prime Minister position and here are some of his obstacles.
The Blue and White party: As patriotic as it may sound, taking the colors blue and white from the Israeli flag, their ideology may lean more left than center. The originators of this party are Benny Gantz (20th Chief of the General Staff (IDF's highest rank)), and Moshe Ya'alon (17th Chief of the General Staff, also former Likud defense minister). Added to this coalition is Yair Lapid (successful entertainer and evening news anchor turned politician) and Gabi Ashkenazi (19th Chief of the General Staff). If they win and are able to form a government, they plan to have Gantz acting Prime Minister for the first two and a half years, and then Lapid would take over for the remaining time.
In a Blue and White official statement they expressed that they plan to go forth with “a new team of security and social leaders that will ensure the security of the nation and reunite the fractured elements of Israeli society”. (Social leaders perhaps meaning those who heal society, preserve freedom, and ensure peace and prosperity for humanity.) They are particularly popular because they profess to be for all Israelis. The State of Israel not only has Jewish inhabitants, there are also Arab‐Israelis (20.9%) and non‐Arab Christians (4.8%). The non Jewish population breaks down by religion into 18% Muslim, 2% Christian and 2% Druze. If we break down the Jewish population by non‐religious verses religious it would look like this: those who identify themselves as secular (44.3%), those who just say they are religious (11%), and who claim to be ultra‐Orthodox (9%). As you can see there is a growing number of people who are not seeking the God of their Fathers—they are not interested in religion; therefore, the more conservative right (as opposed to liberal left) political groups and center‐right may not inspire the young voters as much as this new Blue and White party. This party is also reaching out to Muslims, Christians, women and the Gay community—something rarely seen. But, can they all really work together? Can three Generals and an entertainer turned politician agree on policy?
Their running platform, which has just recently been issued, is rather conservative at first glance. They say they support a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (meaning not divided or to be shared with the Palestinians), they are in favor of retaining settlement blocs (areas in the West Bank but near the 1949 armistice lines and 1967 border), and are willing to start negotiations with the Palestinians. However, not all of these platforms would be pleasing to the Arab communities. Where they would be pleasing and fall hard left is their support for amending the Israeli law for all citizens of Israel to be equal. Presently, the Jewish state law enshrines Israel as the national home of the Jewish people—this does not include all people that live in Israel, just the Jews. As unfair as that may sound consider this, if the Arab population controlled the Knesset, would they institute laws that would be in the best interest of the Jewish people? Probably not—so, as of December 2018, Israeli parliament has already defeated yet another drafted bill for citizens′ right to equality, by a vote of 71‐38.
Another leftist view regarding the Blue and White is their commitment to carry out a second disengagement in Judea and Samaria. Above we mentioned they were in favor of keeping settlement blocs. The population in these blocs total to approximately 251,991 Jews and encompasses 90 miles—1.5% of the land mass. Jews who live outside the settlement blocs, but still inside the West Bank are in jeopardy of losing their homes, but, they will have a choice—evacuate or stay and live under Palestinian rule. (Just a note: this is the same ideology of August 2005 when hundreds of Israeli families were forcibly evicted from their homes in and around Gaza—for what reason? For peace? Hamas took over Gaza and has been terrorizing Israelis with fire kites, destruction of property by rockets, murders and kidnappings to this day. In 2012 when then Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak advocated a disengagement from large portions of the West Bank hoping to spur a peace agreement with the Arabs, or at least start them talking again, there was no Israeli interest. As history has proved, disengagement has never brought peace, or unity with Israel′s neighbors, or security to Israel.) Did we mention the Arabs really like this idea. In fact, leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, thought the Gantz statement was encouraging and wished Mr Gantz the best regarding the election.
Just in case a new political party is not enough to topple PM Netanyahu out of office, perhaps the efforts of V15 (Darkenu) can. In the last election process of 2015, this group (who has since changed their name to Darkenu) was rather problematic. They describe themselves as a non‐partisan group; however, their aim was to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the help of recruited young Israeli activist. Interestingly, their funding has since been traced back to the U.S. State Department under then Secretary of State, John Kerry. It granted $350,000 to the parent company of V15 called, One Voice who, in turn, donated the money to V15. Just an interesting tidbit, One Voice was founded in 2003. On it inaugural board of advisers was Gary Gladstein. You might ask, who is Gary Gladstein? He used to be the chief operations officer of Soros Fund Management—Soros, like George Soros. If you don′t know who George Soros is, in a nutshell, he is a Hungarian Jew. His organizations worldwide have a long history of backing liberal activism that seem to do anything they can to hurt the state of Israel and the U.S.
But the attacks don't end here. On February 28, 2019 Israel′s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit made the decision to charged Prime Minister Netanyahu with bribery. There are a total of three cases against the PM, but he will be charged with breach of trust in the other two. Due to this precision timing, new polls suggest that for the first time in the run‐up to the April 9 election, the left‐wing party has a very real chance to prevail over Netanyahu′s Likud party. Have these charges swayed voter confidence?
Many news sources are crying, “Netanyahu Out. Gantz In”. Perhaps—but, the fight for the office of Prime Minister is far from over. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been a strong world figure for the nation of Israel. He has weathered the storm of alienation from the United Nations and the rest of the World who have lent their support to the Palestinians (plus, other terror organizations that cry out for the destruction of Israel). Many call the land won in the Six Day War as occupied. PM Netanyahu was shunned by his closest ally during the Obama years and ridiculed by the world for Israel's treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. He has not backed down from those who have sought to wage war with his country and has traveled the world over seeking those who love and support Israel. Even opponent Gantz recognizes that the PM Netanyahu is a real patriot and has done much good for the state.
What can we do? Pray for the peace of Jerusalem‐Psalm 122:6. Pray for Israel‐they shall prosper that love thee.
Sources: timesofisrael.com blog; israelnationalnews.com; israelnationalnews.com; timesofisrael.com; dailycaller.com; worldisraelnews.com; i24news.tv; timesofisrael.com blog; lawhawk.blogspot.com; jewishvirtuallibrary.org; israpundit.org; timesofisrael.com blog; timesofisrael.com; israelnationalnews.com; jpost.com; jpost.com; jerusalemonline.com; kehilanews.com; worldisraelnews.com; breitbart.com; jewishvirtuallibrary.org; middleeastmonitor.com; israeltoday.co.il.
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