Jose Rafael Torrealba wins the award for biggest scumbag on the planet today.
Torrealba is a Venezuelan army general who was featured in a leaked audio recording that was just published yesterday.
The recording is of a meeting that took place a few weeks ago in Venezuela in which he and his fellow generals discuss how to keep the civilian population under control.
Torrealba’s solution? Use snipers against his own people.
“There will come a time when we will have to employ them [the snipers] and I want us to be ready for the moment that we have to employ them because the president will not remain at a green [preparation] phase, gentlemen.”
One general at the meeting who could not be identified voiced opposition to the plan, saying that “if we keep going with the issue of the snipers, all of us here will end up in jail.”
Apparently the obvious moral reasons for not using lethal force against your own people didn’t factor into their logic.
Torrealba indicated that he didn’t care for public perception. And even after admitting it was unconstitutional, he ordered everyone at the meeting to make preparations to use snipers.
That was back in April. Since then dozens of people have died, including a 17-year old kid who was shot in the head earlier this week.
Bear in mind that Venezuelans are literally starving; the food shortages that have plagued the country are getting worse, and people have resorted to digging through garbage cans and eating tree bark.
They’ve also taken to the streets to voice their disgust.
Naturally, the government has rolled out the full force of its military to crush any political dissent and anti-government activism.
This is a country that has some of the most abundant resources in the world– massive oil reserves, huge manufacturing capacity, abundant farmland and fresh water supplies, deep water ports, diamonds, gold, natural gas, hydropower, etc.
They have everything. Few nations on this planet are blessed with as much raw potential as Venezuela has.
In fact Venezuela should be, by far, the wealthiest, most advanced country in Latin America.
You have to work REALLY, REALLY hard to screw up something with THAT much potential.
But that’s precisely what’s happened. Frankly it’s astounding to see how much the Venezuelan government’s corruption and socialist bullshit has devastated the country.
And now they’re just flat-out killing people in order to maintain power.
It’s terrible to see so many millions of people suffering and trapped with no way out. And it truly underscores the importance of having a Plan B.
Hopefully wherever you live in the world never turns into Venezuela where murderous thugs like Torrealba are in power.
But if history is any indication, sometimes the world surprises us. Political instability, financial crises, terror attacks, etc. can change everything overnight.
Two days ago Brazil was relatively calm. Then yesterday a major political crisis struck. Within minutes the stock market and currency crashed.
Four years ago in Cyprus, everything was pretty normal. Then everyone woke up the next morning to find that their banks were insolvent and their accounts were frozen.
We unfortunately live in a world where even some of the most advanced, developed countries in the world, including the US, UK, France, Italy, Japan, etc. are buried under mountains of debt.
US government debt is now unofficially north of $20 trillion (officially it’s at $19.9 trillion, but only because of the debt ceiling nonsense…) and household debt just hit another record high.
These aren’t healthy indicators that make for a consequence-free environment.
Acknowledging obvious risks, especially big macro risks that stem from the pitiful, long-term political decisions, is a totally rational thing to do.
Look at the US retirement system–
Social Security’s Board of Trustees, which includes the Treasury Secretary of the United States, publishes a written report each year telling the world that Social Security is running out of money.
The government has completely screwed up this program, and the Trustees are candid about its dire finances.
It’s not crazy to acknowledge this obvious risk to your retirement and take basic steps to protect yourself from the consequences.
This could mean establishing a more flexible, robust retirement account where you can set aside more money and invest in more attractive asset classes.
Simply setting aside an extra $1,000 per year and boosting your returns by just 1% could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra retirement savings.
So when Social Security runs out of cash, you’ll be just fine.
And if by some miracle they’re able to save the program, you’ll still be OK.
It’s hard to imagine you’ll be worse off for having a few hundred thousand dollars in extra retirement savings.
You can extend that same logic to so many other aspects of your life.
It’s hard to imagine you’ll be worse off because your savings is in a safer, better capitalized bank… or a portion of it is held in physical cash in your safe.
It’s hard to imagine you’ll be worse off for having a second citizenship, allowing you and your family the freedom to live, work, travel, and do business in another part of the world, with future generations able to inherit those same benefits.
It’s hard to imagine you’ll be worse off for taking completely legitimate steps to reduce the amount of tax that you owe.
And that’s the whole point of a Plan B: taking rational steps that make sense regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen next.
Venezuela is obviously an extreme example.
But anyone who takes an objective look at the numbers, even in the supposedly ‘wealthiest’ countries in the world, can see that there are far too many threats to your long-term wealth and prosperity to ignore.
The solutions are simple, and many of them require almost no investment… simply a little bit of education, and the will to take action.