• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

“What’s good for one side is not good for the other!”

The Herschel Walker Lesson is Not What You are Being Told

Walker’s opponent’s position on abortion should be orders of magnitude more consequential to pro-life voters in Georgia. 

By Rod Thomson at American Greatness:

October 11, 2022

The Daily Beast’s pre-planned, slow-rolled, take-him-out hit pieces on Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker is a game that has been played many times by loyal Democratic partners in the media.

This 13-year-old story being dropped in October before a hotly contested race is the very definition of an October Surprise, and the perfect inverse to the FBI, legacy media, and social media working together to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story two years earlier. This is how it works today. Fantastical lies can be spread about Republican Supreme Court nominees (think of Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh) and politicians at precisely the pivotal moment. A story that would have hurt Joe Biden is smothered out.

These are the rules. What’s good for one side is not good for the other. The game is one-sided and that is not changing anytime soon. This is but one reason why the new “revelations” about Walker should mean absolutely nothing to Georgia voters. The stakes for the future of America are too great. And this lopsided game is too old.

Rather than demanding a candidate pass a personal purity test on abortion, voters ought to be asking whether the candidate (accused now of personal hypocrisy or low personal character) will cast moral votes while in office? That is all the information voters need. If voters believe candidate A will be much better than candidate Ze/Zem when voting on bills, then any personal hypocrisies by candidate A must be thrown aside. Voters are obligated to cast their vote in favor of the person who will pursue the public policy they believe in and support. Not doing so is tantamount to a vote for a candidate who supports what the voter opposes. That is simply irrational and self-defeating.

If the goal of the Democrat-allied Daily Beast’s hit pieces was to tamp down the Georgia pro-life vote and make some swing voters swing away from the football star, then being persuaded by them is political suicide that ensures the other side will continue to use this tactic.

Applying this axiom to the case of Walker, if any Georgia pro-life voters decide not to vote for Walker because of the Democrat-run October Surprise machine, they may actually be voting to sign the death warrant for hundreds of thousands or millions more unborn babies.

Let that sink in, because this is indisputable. Walker’s opponent supports federal legislation legalizing abortion up to the moment of birth nationwide—invalidating every state law protecting unborn babies that pro-life voters have fought for decades to pass. Some interpret the legislation to allow for post-abortion infanticide under the law.

If the Walker stories are all true, which is not proven, Walker paid for a girlfriend’s abortion 13 years ago but now wants to fight to ban most abortions. His opponent wants to force you to pay for all abortions. Walker’s opponent’s position is orders of magnitude more consequential. This should be a no-brainer for a pro-lifer, because his opponent’s character failings could get untold thousands of babies killed. These are the choices.

If we look at the other side, we see how this works. In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama said definitively that marriage was between one man and one woman. Many knew instinctively he was lying. But his base that was friendly to gay marriage didn’t care. They turned out in droves to vote for him because they didn’t apply a purity test. They understood what he meant to say.

Four years later, he was maintaining that position until the bumbling Vice President Joe Biden spilled the beans publicly and Obama was forced to say his thinking had “evolved”—political speak for flip-flopping, or in this case, telling the truth. Again, he was not punished for it at the polls. His supporters helped give him a second term. In those eight years Obama appointed Supreme Court justices that took the issue into their own activist hands and divined that gay marriage was indeed constitutionally protected.

Another four years later, a lot of us were not thrilled with the Donald Trump nomination. For me personally, I stuck with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) until the bitter end. Trump’s character was a significant challenge. As a Bible-believing Christian, married 42 years with eight children, Trump represented a lot of what I thought to be wrong with America. But I measured the other option and spent roughly a non-second deciding that Trump had my vote.

I was called a hypocrite and fake Christian (usually by non-Christians) for years afterward because of my increasingly vocal support for President Trump. Do not be moved by the slings and arrows of people or media with deceitful motives and malicious intent. Think bigger. I was surprised at just how conservatively Trump governed. As a pro-life “extremist,” what I saw was the appointment of Supreme Court justices who overturned the atrocity of Roe v. Wade—to say nothing of the container ship full of other successes from the border to the economy to the Middle East to energy independence.

These are the stakes. You may not like it. I sure don’t. It’s simply reality. In truth, it probably always has been. But at this stage in our Republic’s rapid decline, we deny this truth to our own demise.

Rod Thomson is an author, former journalist, Salem radio host and ABC TV commentator, and founder of conservative consulting firm The Thomson Group. 

Good Old Lefty Minnesota!

OCTOBER 12, 2022 BY SCOTT JOHNSON at Power Line:


I regret that Democrat Angie Craig represents me in Congress. In 2020 she narrowly defeated Tyler Kistner in the race for Minnesota’s Second District seat. I hope Kistner can pull it off this time around, but it’s an uphill battle in the Twin Cities and the media environment doesn’t help. At the local Fox affiliate, for example, Theo Keith has served up a couple of purported fact-checks of ads supporting Kistner.

I don’t believe Keith has gotten around to Craig’s ad below. I pulled the ad off Craig’s YouTube channel. Although Craig is a party-line Democrat vote, Craig touts her appeal to Republicans such as Dave in the ad — because she supports pharmaceutical price controls that benefit Dave’s wife.

Craig holds Dave out as a “lifelong Republican.” When I saw the ad on local television over the weekend, however, I thought Dave didn’t sound like much of a Republican. I thought he sounded like a faking phony. We await Keith’s fact-check.

Until then we have Joseph Simonson’s assessment at the Washington Free Beacon. Simonson found that Dave’s last name is Vesledahl and that “Vesledahl’s claim that he’s a ‘lifelong Republican’ is…contradicted by the fact that he voted in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to voter files obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.”

And, by the way, Dave no longer lives in the district either. “The Craig campaign acknowledged that Vesledahl lives in the neighboring first district, and therefore can’t vote for Craig.”

The Craig spokesman contacted by Simonson put it this way: “Dave describes himself as a lifelong Republican, and his voter file registers him as a ‘Lean Republican[.]’” (The term “voter file” is not self-explanatory. It is a commercial product with no official or authoritative status.)

Others would describe Dave as a Democrat shill. Others would find it symbolic that fake “moderate” Democrat Craig had to reach beyond the boundaries of her district to find fake Republican Dave to express his support for her.

“With The Russians In Retreat”?!

October 12, 2022

Must the U.S. Retreat to Save Putin?

By William Hawkins at American Thinker:

Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, there has been a chorus of isolationists who have opposed helping Ukraine defend itself from the unprovoked, revanchist invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The motives of these noninterventionists are varied. Those like Rainer Shea, a prolific writer against “the capitalist/imperialist power establishment” who wants to “move us towards a socialist revolution” openly sides with Russia because “Obama’s team forced through the installation of an extreme-right government in Kiev eight years ago.” Shea argues
“Russia has outmaneuvered the imperialists” with Putin’s threats of nuclear war. Many liberals think defense spending is a waste and the money should be spent on domestic social programs. On international issues, libertarians side with the Left because they reject the intrusion of security concerns upon individual or business freedom. As Ludwig von Mises asserted in Omnipotent Government, “under free trade and free migration, no individual is concerned about the territorial size of his country.” Great comfort for those Ukrainians now living in occupied Mariupol.

As the Russian invasion has floundered, the critics of U.S.-NATO policy have grown more desperate to prove that their case for doing nothing (and letting Putin win) is the correct one.

The headline of Stephen M. Walt’s essay in the mainstream journal Foreign Policy reads “Russia’s Defeat Would Be America’s Problem: Victory in Ukraine could easily mean hubris in Washington.” America might take its role as world leader seriously again! We can’t have that. Walt is a prominent scholar associated with elite institutions. His 2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy and his 2018 book The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy detail his skewed outlook. He teaches a course at the Harvard Kennedy School titled “What’s Wrong with U.S. Foreign Policy” where he denounces the post-Cold War “ambitious grand strategy of ‘liberal hegemony’” which he calls a failure. He is heavily invested in keeping it a failure.

Walt is Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs and affiliated with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Among the other members of this elite brain trust is Graham Allison, the founding dean of the Kennedy School. Walt borrows from Allison in the opening of his Foreign Policy essay regarding the Peloponnesian War. Allison is well known for his 2017 book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” which advocates appeasement towards China. Allison argues that too many wars, starting with the conflict between Athens and Sparta described by the ancient historian Thucydides, have been the result of an established power (like Sparta then and America today) trying to resist a rising power like Athens then, China today. It is better to accommodate the challenger. This, he says, will take “huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions” including accepting that America is doomed to fall behind China. It is better to lose without a fight, is his decadent advice. In an article published the day Putin announced his annexations, Allison claims “a ‘limited war’ over Taiwan or along China’s periphery, the United States would likely lose — or have to choose between losing and stepping up the escalation ladder to a wider war” which he opposes. Escalation threats from Putin, however, must be heeded as he argued in a piece posted the day the Russian Duma approved Putin’s annexations. Indeed, he seemed to present a moral equivalency between Putin’s threat to defend his conquered territory with nukes and the U.S. pledge to defend its NATO allies.

Yet, Allison’s own research, if properly read, shows the opposite. In each of his twelve examples of conflict between a “ruling” power and a rising power, it is the rising power that starts the major war with acts of aggression. In none of the cases does the ruling power act in a pre-emptive manner to cripple a rival before it feels strong enough to strike. Even Allison’s core example of Sparta reacting to Athens’ rise notes that the two Greek city-states had a 30-year peace treaty during which as Thucydides writes Sparta did little until “the better part of Greece was already in their [Athenian] hands.” The ruling powers behaved exactly as Allison wants the U.S. to do; they did nothing to protect their position. But instead of peace, war was the result as appeasement invited aggression, the true lesson of history.

Robert Belfer made a fortune in oil, ranking in the Fortune 400 as the largest shareholder in Enron before it collapsed in scandal. Conservatives still back capitalism as the strongest horse in the economics race, but no longer accept capitalists whose ambitions are incompatible with the needs of national society, the true focus of policy. Controversial billionaires back another defeatist think tank, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QIRS or “curse”). It launched in 2019 with funds from George Soros and Charles Koch. Both are libertarians, though they tend to back candidates on opposite sides of the aisle. Soros hates national security at home as well as overseas, working to weaken police, prosecutors, and prisons as well as the armed forces and border patrol. Koch is a more conventional isolationist who just doesn’t want to be bothered by issues larger than his own. He also funds the Cato Institute, whose Doug Bandow declared on September 21 “Don’t let Ukraine into NATO or a NATO-Plus… Americans don’t want to join the Russo‐​Ukraine killfest. They even question the current level of US military assistance… Washington should finally begin emphasizing the interests of Americans over that of foreign states.”   

With the Russians in retreat, QIRS is pushing for a negotiated settlement that should avoid “humiliating” Putin. The U.S. should threaten to reduce its military support to pressure Kyiv to make territorial concessions, and Moscow should be assured that Ukraine would never be allowed to join NATO, thus keeping the door open for renewed aggression. Putin’s invasion has validated the fears in Eastern Europe that prompted so many countries to join NATO. But appeasement is the only word in QIRS’s vocabulary. Deterrence is considered dangerous and requires actual effort. It’s a very short step for a non-interventionist to become an apologist for the enemy and then a collaborator.

This approach runs through its positions on Iran and China as well. It rejects the alignment of Israel and the Arabs against Tehran as “a terrible idea because it cements existing divisions in the region and reduces the likelihood of diplomatic breakthroughs” QIRS VP Trita Parsi told CNN. It also opposes “pushing” South Korea into the coalition opposing Chinese aggression. At QIRS the only role for diplomacy is to placate enemies, not build alliances.

One of its founders, Andrew Bacevich, wrote a long essay decrying calling Putin a “fascist” as it only encourages stronger action against him. We don’t want to repeat the mistake of the Cold War which he claimed cost too much to win. He concluded “The truth is that neither Russian ‘fascism’ nor its Chinese variant poses a significant danger to American democracy, which is actually threatened from within.” Yes, by groups like QIRS that want to turn democracy into weakness rather than its demonstrated strength to rally the public in common defense of national interests and values.

QIRS’s roster of “experts” is a who’s who of defeatists who think we should just hide under our beds. A more irresponsible statecraft would be hard to imagine, given the array of enemies who have made it clear they desire to reshape the world in ways that would reduce our independence and prosperity while ushering in a new Dark Age. The predators are all watching what happens to Putin as he tests the waters. They might get discouraged if he drowns.

William R. Hawkins is a former economics professor who served on the professional staff of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Nothing Quite Like SHUTDOWNS!

OCTOBER 11, 2022 BY JOHN HINDERAKER at Power Line:


From early in the covid epidemic, it seemed obvious that the shutdowns ordered by nearly all governors and many municipalities did little good and caused tremendous damage. Experience has borne out that conclusion, but almost everywhere, governments have moved on without any accounting for the mistakes that were made.

American Experiment has just released two papers that address the consequences of covid shutdowns. While their specific focus is on Minnesota, their analyses are readily applicable to other states.

Economists John Phelan and Martha Njolomole performed a multi-factor regression analysis to isolate the effect of state and local shutdowns on economic growth. They used the stringency index developed by scholars at Oxford University to rate the stringency of shutdowns state by state and week by week. They accounted for other factors, including the number of covid cases, the extent that a state’s economy relies on the hard-hit hospitality and entertainment industries, and state tax policy.

Their conclusion is that Minnesota’s covid shutdowns cost the state $10.6 billion in GDP growth by the first quarter of 2021, or around $7,500 for a typical family of four. Their paper includes stringency and economic data on all 50 states, so the analysis can easily by applied anywhere in the U.S.

Policy Fellow Catrin Wigfall analyzed the effect of school shutdowns on the academic performance of public school students in Minnesota. She found that Minnesota students, on average, missed the 14th largest number of days due to school shutdowns among the states. The consequences were devastating.

Academic performance of Minnesota’s public school students dropped off a cliff as a result of covid shutdowns. This chart tells the story:

Currently, only 44% of Minnesota public school students can do math at grade level, while 50% are unable to read at grade level. To me, this is most shocking: only 36% of Minnesota’s 11th graders can do math at grade level. And grade level is nothing to write home about. One wonders what employment future these students can possibly have.

It was obvious in early 2020 that covid posed little or no threat to children. The fact that our youth lost a year or more of education isn’t a tragedy, it is a crime. I hope that in every state, policy analysts are examining, and publicizing, the consequences of covid shutdowns. It is critical that we hold the responsible politicians accountable.

Our Biden’s Economics!

Thanks To Biden’s Border Crisis, The Million-Dollar Migrant Smuggling Industry Is Now Worth Billions

BY: JORDAN BOYD at the Federalist:

OCTOBER 11, 2022


Just a year and a half of President Joe Biden’s border crisis has emboldened dangerous cartels for decades to come.

Author Jordan Boyd profile


While President Joe Biden “scrambles” to address Ukraine’s border war with Russia, the U.S. border sits vulnerable to a host of criminal activity that is quickly seeping into all 50 states.

That’s problematic because in just a year and a half, Biden’s border crisis has made it increasingly easier for transnational criminal organizations raking in hundreds of millions of dollars each year smuggling migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border to become even more profitable and powerful.

The Department of Homeland Security bragged last week that there has been a “500% increase in human smuggling disruption activity compared to similar past operations” and that it has “recently surpassed 5,000 smuggler arrests.” However, those figures are but a small dent in the actual number of smugglers who have successfully escorted hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers into the U.S. each month since Biden’s inauguration.

In May of 2018, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that human smuggling operations are making “$500 million a year, or more.”

“To be clear, human smuggling operations are lining the pockets of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). They are not humanitarian endeavors. Smugglers’ priorities have profits over people, and when aliens pay them to get here, they are contributing $500 million a year, or more, to groups that are fueling greater violence and instability in America and the region,” she warned.

More than four years later, the criminal enterprises responsible for scoping out border weaknesses and using those to funnel more than 2 million illegal border crossers into the U.S. in just 12 short months are now raking in an estimated $13 billion per year.

That means that the same cartels and criminal rings responsible for increasing corruption in Mexico now control a multibillion-dollar operation that has the funds, experience, and lack of accountability from the federal government to sustain their deadly smuggling industry for decades to come.

In recent weeks, Vice President Kamala Harris and top U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have tried to shift the blame for this influx of migrants on Republican governors who have made a spectacle of shipping migrants to blue strongholds across the country.

But the border crisis was a disaster long before migrants arrived in Martha’s Vineyard and at Harris’s residence. It was Biden’s undoing of Trump-era border security that prompted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to take that kind of drastic action in the first place.

Biden unleashed the floodgates of illegal immigration and all of the other criminal activity that accompanies it when he eradicated key border security measures such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum-seekers to await court decisions in Mexico, and Title 42, a policy designed to expedite the expulsion of illegal border crossers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

His weak border rhetoric on the campaign trail and from behind the presidential seal encouraged migrants to begin their perilous journeys to the U.S. and to enter illegally — a fact that even illegal border crossers aren’t scared to admit.



As a result, the border has become a hub not only for human smuggling but also for the smuggling of illicit and deadly drugs such as fentanyl, which is the main culprit of the nation’s current overdose epidemic. Even people who are not connected to criminal rings have begun stashing illegal abortion pills from Mexico in their luggage to send to American women and middle-school girls in pro-life states because they know they can get away with it.

Considering most Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats to handle immigration and border security issues, it’s no surprise that red candidates in key midterm races are calling for solutions that Democrats in the White House and Congress are unwilling to face. Whether Republicans will be successful in their attempts to curb the border “terrorists” is yet to be determined, but one thing is clear: Regardless of the GOP’s future attempts to fix the crisis, Biden’s enabling of the disaster has only been good business for smugglers who seek to profit handsomely from the exploitation of migrants.

Jordan Boyd is a staff writer at The Federalist and co-producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Her work has also been featured in The Daily Wire and Fox News.

“The largest criminal organization in Venezuela!”

A Venezuelan Gang Crosses Biden’s Open Border

The Tren de Aragua rose to power in Nicolas Maduro’s anarchotyranny. Now they’re in Florida.

by Edgar Beltrán

Oct 11, 202212:05 AM

Last week, El American broke the news that members of the Tren de Aragua, the largest criminal organization in Venezuela (after the government), had crossed the southern border and were living in Orlando, Florida. The news came a week after Breitbart had claimed that Venezuelan criminals were crossing the border to live in the U.S.—more than likely continuing their criminal enterprises.

The source told El American that the criminals were living in Bogotá, Colombia, and were able to change their identity by bribing Venezuelan officials. They traveled by land to Mexico’s northern border and crossed to the U.S., then established themselves in Orlando, where one of the members bought a car and applied for a Florida license plate with his new identity. The source believed that the crossing was not organized by the Maduro regime, but an isolated act of corruption.

The Tren de Aragua was born from a union in Aragua state, west of Caracas. The union represented the workers of the construction of a railroad (hence the name, Aragua’s Train) that would have passed through the state of Aragua. The project was never finished, the money disappeared, and no one knew what happened—a common occurrence in Chavez’s Venezuela.

The workers started with typical shady union deals, charging for the allocation of workers and extorting contractors. Some of its members were sentenced for their crimes and sent to the Tocorón prison, one of the largest and most dangerous prisons in Venezuela. There, they got in touch with the now-leader of the gang, Héctor Rusthenford Guerrero Flores, better known as “Niño Guerrero,” who was serving a sentence for killing a policeman and started expanding their operations.

First, from the prison, they gained control of the nearby San Vicente neighborhood. San Vicente is a large neighborhood with over 28,000 people. Every parcel is controlled by two or more of Guerrero’s lieutenants who keep the area in order: no minors on the streets after 11 p.m., no muggings within San Vicente, and not a soul can mention the activities of the Tren de Aragua.

Then, they started leading all kinds of criminal operations from the prison: extortion, drug trafficking, hit jobs, kidnappings, and human trafficking. Then, the gang started expanding to other parts of the country. They started controlling drug trafficking routes from Sucre, a state in the northeastern part of the country that allows easy access to the Caribbean. Then they began taking part in illegal mining operations in southeast Venezuela, near the border with Brazil.

Conducting criminal operations from prison is nothing new; it happens in the U.S. and almost everywhere. But the sheer scale of the Tren de Aragua’s operations is almost unparalleled. Depending on the source, they have between 2,000 and 7,000 members, and their operations span almost half the states of Venezuela, and Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica—and, now, the United States.

How were they able to expand so quickly from a prison? The answer is very simple and, at the same time, very complex.

It is very simple because in Venezuela it is easy to point the finger at the government when something bad happens. Nine out of 10 times, you’d be right to blame them. But the power dynamic that enabled Tren de Aragua to scale their operations up to the point of having members in the U.S. is much more complex.

Even though Venezuela is a dictatorship, Maduro does not have monolithic control of power. The Venezuelan regime is better understood as a coalition in which Maduro is the public face but there are many leaders, with different priorities and different criminal operations. Thus, a criminal gang such as the Tren de Aragua might be allied with some government factions while others attack it.

The Venezuelan prison system is a mess, and both Chávez and Maduro only made it worse. After dozens of massacres in prisons across the country, the government basically surrendered and gave away some of the prisons to the inmates, allowing them to run their operations as long as there are no mutinies or massacres within the compounds. This system paved the way for the rise of a figure known as pran, an acronym that roughly translates to “natural-born killer inmate.” The pranes are the informally recognized leaders of prisons, and Niño Guerrero is probably the most important in the country.

Guerrero’s organization is also allied with the Tren del Llano and the Tren del Norte, two of the other “mega-gangs” in Venezuela.

Tocorón, the prison that serves as the Tren de Aragua’s headquarters, has a pool, a disco, many churches, and restaurants (including a Thai restaurant and one called “The Flavor of Crime”). It also has a gym (closer to a Planet Fitness than a prison gym), clothing shops, and even a small zoo. There is an informal bank (painted with the colors of Banesco, the largest bank in the country) that makes loans in dollars with interest rates of between 10 and 20 percent. Guerrero’s house is in the middle of the prison; it has two stories and a large terrace—and he has a collection of trucks.

As long as you behave well and pay the “causa” demanded by the pran (a monthly fee that allows you to be safe in the prison and avoid the most grueling jobs and treatment), you can enjoy yourself, and your family can freely visit and even stay with you in the prison. Estimates indicate that Guerrero receives about two million dollars per year just in causa payments.

Local NGOs blame the government for the rise of pranes. Twelve years ago, Tareck El-Aisammi was the interior minister in Venezuela. El-Aisammi was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2017 and is known as Venezuela’s liaison with Hezbollah and for providing Venezuelan passports to suspected members of Hezbollah and Hamas from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan. (This was back when a Venezuelan passport allowed one to freely roam through Latin America, and Venezuelans could easily obtain an American tourist visa.)

The NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons studied 31 of the 52 prisons in the country. Eight of those are under full control of pranes, eight are controlled by Venezuelan authorities, and 15 are under a “mixed” regime between pranes and the state. All started under El-Aisammi’s watch and that of Iris Valera, the prison minister.

It was then that the causa system was established, and officials from the prisons ministry and the national guard, among others, benefited from it. Experts claim that, around 2017, the gang was able to produce about $5 million per year.  Who was the governor of Aragua when the Train had this kind of earnings? El-Aissami.

And that was before the train started its international course.

The first foreign country to have claimed presence from the Tren de Aragua was Peru, in 2018. The Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, which began in 2014, resulted in over 6 million Venezuelans fleeing the country due to hunger, hyperinflation, and political persecution. A small percentage of those who fled did so to expand criminal enterprises.

On August 3 of 2018, the Division of Investigation of Theft of the Peruvian police detained five members of the gang. One of them, called Edison Barrera, a.k.a. “el Catire” (“the Blonde,” in Venezuelan slang) admitted to having killed six people as a hitman.

Brazilian authorities also claimed that the Tren de Aragua was connected with the Brazilian Primer Comando da Capital, also born in a prison, which is the largest criminal syndicate in the continent’s largest country. Chilean authorities also claimed to have the Tren in their country, where the group led operations in arms dealing, extortion, and hit jobs. It also leads human-trafficking—especially sex-trafficking—operations on the Chile-Bolivia border.

On June 16 of this year, Chilean police conducted an operation in Arica, in the northern part of the country. They found drugs, guns, and a cadaver with signs of torture, and detained 17 members of the organization, including one of its leaders, Hernán Landaeta, a.k.a. “Satan.” Peruvian women have also been detained in the Chile-Peru border and forced to carry drugs by the Tren de Aragua. The local prosecutor, Raúl Arancibia, called authorities to “avoid Iquique [a city close to the border with Bolivia] becoming another Ciudad Juárez” due to the increasing levels of violence.

The group also controls crossings at the Ecuador-Colombia border—a hotbed for drug trafficking in South America. And Bogotá probably has the largest presence outside of Venezuela. Earlier this year, 23 bodies were found dismembered in plastic bags in different parts of the Colombian capital, a level of violence rarely seen that reminded of the dark days when Pablo Escobar and cartels ran rampant in the country. The mayor, Claudia López, claimed that the Tren de Aragua was responsible for the gruesome murders. A Colombian NGO also reported that the group has links in the country with Los Urabeños (also known as the Gulf Clan), the largest drug cartel in Colombia.

It has also fought with the ELN (National Liberation Army) and FARC dissidents to control crossings on the Venezuela-Colombia border. The fact that the Tren de Aragua, still a young organization, was able to fight off guerrillas that have decades of armed experience surprised many.

According to investigations, criminals from the gang camouflage themselves among migratory caravans from Venezuela to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile—and now the U.S., where they extort migrants and also use these caravans to smuggle drugs and conduct human-trafficking operations.

In the United States, the Tren de Aragua will do what they have done in every other country: ally themselves with other criminal organizations to murder, deal drugs, and wreak havoc. Whatever happens will be directly linked to America’s wide-open southern border. So, though evidence indicates the crossing of the Tren de Aragua into Florida was not orchestrated by the Maduro regime, the Biden regime may not come out so blameless.


Edgar Beltrán is a journalist from Venezuela and the deputy editor of El American.