Quico says: If you live in Venezuela or follow it closely, you probably won’t learn anything new from Andrés Martínez’s snarky little “My Summer Vacation” piece over at Slate.com. Still, you should read it…the guy’s a wonderful, idiosyncratic writer, and his article manages to convey the weirdly unhinged feel of Caracas in the Chávez era better than almost anything else I’ve read in English.
Go to China or Vietnam, and you see a pre-existing Communist state paying lip service to its old Marxist orthodoxy as it embraces consumerist modernity. But the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez is a real oddity—a fantasyland that isn’t in on the joke, that doesn’t seem to realize those tired socialistic slogans are nothing more than retro kitsch. Even the thousands of Cuban advisers who come to Venezuela must know this, but they still gladly come to proselytize, especially since it gives them a chance to drink Coca-Cola and eat at McDonald’s. There is a rich future for a Latin American left, I am sure, and it will take many forms, but one reason Chávez has gotten as far as he has is that his project is so crudely passé and unsubtle, it is hard to take seriously.
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