52 leaders, all from non-democratic governments, are meeting at the Summit of the Non-Aligned Countries in Venezuela.
Despite Venezuela having no food or medicine for its citizens, the country is hosting the Summit which is estimated to cost around $175 million (USD).
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is chased nationally by ghosts of a recall that many observers feel should have removed him from office last year. Even the Democratic Charter the Organization of American States tried earlier in 2016. Because of his strong-arm tactics, Maduro has managed to hold on to power.
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Maduro is hosting the summit on Margarita island. Margarita Island is the arm pit of Venezuela, despite it’s touristy name. The island doesn’t have public services or fresh water and the 30-year old pipeline is leaking. Venezuela doesn’t have the money to get the pipeline fixed.
The island’s 300,000 residents are looking on while the cash to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure is wasted on the representatives attending the meeting. Maduro has promised to provide 30 million liters of water to the hotels where the visitors will be staying.
Venezuela has instituted draconian currency controls — no one can buy or sell dollars in the open. An exception has been made for Margarita though. Dignitaries will be able to see close up how a single $10 USD becomes a pile of $100 VEF.
A Select Group
The Non-Aligned Summit is a select group. Despite Moammar Gaddaffi not being around to set up his tent at the summit as he did in 2009, there will be plenty of tyrants.
The star of the summit is the representative from North Korea since that nation just detonated its fifth atomic bomb.
Cuba, the elder-statesman of the Non-Aligned Countries will be there; Cuba signed up in 1961 and its tenure runs over 50 years.
Maduro hopes to learn from Zimbabwe, Somalia and Eritrea — all dictatorships that have been around at least twenty-years. Other examples which Maduro admires is Belarus, where Alexander Lukashenko has become a pariah. His nation, which he has ruled since 1994, is an island where nothing goes in — or out.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, generally recognized as one of the most miserable nations on the planet, will have a representative there.
Venezuela’s former president, Hugo Chavez, will be there — but only in spirit. The government has erected a statue in the area where the summit will be held.
Maduro’s opposition expects demonstrations the week of the summit and Margarita has never been a region where “Chavismo” has gained traction.
If Maduro had a little more knowledge of history, he would know that monumets often become toppled symbols at the end of corrupt administrations.