April 25, 2005
Caracas Rots Under Chavez
Posted by Dave Blount at April 25, 2005 7:10 AM
Phil Gunson reports in The Independent that despite the leftist utopia brought to Venezuela by Castro clone Hugo Chavez, the capital city of Caracas is degenerating into an uninhabitable slum, where garbage is spread far and wide by wild dogs and socialist citizens looking for something to eat.
Caracas wasn't always a dump. Before Chavez, only Buenos Aires could compete with it for elegance among Latin American capitals. The twin towers of Parque Central — formerly the tallest skyscrapers south of the USA — are still standing. But the top 20 floors of one tower are still burned out from an unexplained fire last October. A statue of Columbus has been destroyed by leftist demonstrators. Other statues have been scavenged for scrap material. Pot holes are so huge and so permanent that they actually have names.
But there is an escape from the misery of this ruined city. You can enter a blissful alternate reality just by turning on the TV or radio. As there is no opposition media, nothing disturbs the leftist fantasy imposed by Chavez, whose "meandering, repetitious, dogma-laden speeches" can be heard hour after hour. According to Gunson, "you often get a wonderful sense of being wrapped in cotton wool and transported to a magic land, where diligent revolutionaries strive day and night to make life better for the masses."
But the state-imposed never-never land isn't all sweetness and light. In a recent interview, the head of the Land Reform Institute advocated whipping up hatred against gringos in preparation for an invasion by the United States, which Venezuelans are supposed to believe is a puppet of British imperialism.
Life under Chavez can be pretty close to hell on earth, especially if you fail to keep your head down, but there are at least a couple of advantages. You can get a free copy of Don Quixote — the book that gave us the term "quixotic," meaning "foolishly idealistic" — paid for with someone else's seized wealth. And one day Chavez could win a Nobel Prize, giving Venezuelans a great source of pride. Hey, if Arafat could do it, why not El Loco?