Two weeks in the socialist paradise to gawk at the poor, touch the robe of the great man, and then head back to a five-star hotel for a good night’s rest. When Drew Barrymore did something like this for MTV, she at least had the decency to crap in the woods along with the rest of the natives.
Most vacationers in Venezuela would opt for the country’s tropical Caribbean beaches. That’s why neighbors peered out of their windows inquisitively when a recent caravan of Americans climbed up the steep slopes of the country’s largest barrio, which many middle- and upper-class Venezuelans dare not enter. The group, from professors to real estate agents, ages 27 to 62, sat on the rooftop of one Petare home listening to the barrio’s social leaders praise President Hugo Chavez…
Milco Chacoa, a tour guide for the NGO, says visitors are captivated by Chavez. “They have a huge interest in seeing Chavez,” he said. “To shake his hand or give him a hug would be almost a dream.” But another Venezuelan tour guide said he thought the Americans were “crazy” for spending their vacation time in Venezuela’s poor and dangerous barrios.
Not good enough? Here’s a scene that would be considered too broad for a Mel Brooks movie:
“We hope to serve as spokesmen to tell you the truth about our communities,” Miguel Romero, a community organizer, told the Global Exchange group in Petare… One American, visibly moved by the presentation, shouted, “Let the revolution continue!” Another opened his wallet abruptly during the talk and offered $10 to a community speaker, who kindly refused.
Street vendors in Caracas are reportedly selling posters of Chavez riding a horse next to Jesus Christ, which must present quite a dilemma for a lefty American tourist hunting for souvenirs.
“Red Ken” Livingstone, fellow traveler, friend of Hugo, and mayor of London, proudly declares, “Those who a decade ago said that socialism was dead, see it now very much alive in Venezuela.” Venezuelan Jews see it too, which is why they’re heading for the exits. Writes Oliver Kamm:
The adversary culture that recoils from its own society and transfers its yearnings to far-away continents is always with us, and rarely learns from its disappointments. President Chávez’s regional significance is likely to be ephemeral. But as a symbiosis of blustering demagogue and credulous venerator, the performance of President and Mayor is depressingly familiar.
Dan Riehl says it’s coming soon to a nation near you.