Chavismo as Slapstick

In this New Republic piece, Sacha Feinman has a look at the zanier side of boliparanoia. Great reportage. Great fun.


“It isn’t a secret as to who might come. Venezuela is oil-rich, and the imperialist countries have kept an eye on our natural resources for some time now,” explained Captain Jose Nuñez of the Bolivarian Naval Police.

It was eight o’clock on a Wednesday morning in June, and I was seated, sweaty and barely awake, along with a group of 20 other journalists at a naval base in La Guaira, Venezuela. Packed into a sparsely furnished conference room, we listened to the captain explain why the government of President Hugo Chávez had decided to invite the press to a week’s worth of war games. The military wanted the world to know that Venezuela was ready to greet the “imperialists” should they decide to stop by for a visit.

This day’s demonstration had been billed as the largest and most action-packed of those scheduled. A mock invasion was set to take place on the beach, with the government using tanks and companies of “elite amphibious fighters.” “Seven hundred and twenty-five professional naval combatants and approximately 2,200 civilians will be involved in the day’s activities, and we will show how we have integrated the people with the military,” the captain stated.

To “get it” you really have to read the whole thing…