Venezuela's Chavez on moral crusade
Are Venezuelans as dedicated to the Revolution as Chavez would like? Are they ready to be told how dedicated they must be? What to eat, what to drink, how to live. Many will argue that anything anti-yankee is good, but how many of the free spirits are willing to run to Caracas and join this Revolution. I often wonder when we finally have no choices left to make, what are we left with?
President Hugo Chavez is on a moral crusade in Venezuela, preaching against vices from alcohol to cholesterol, vowing to curb whisky imports and ordering beer trucks off the street.
His government announced increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco on Monday, and Chavez also plans steep new taxes on luxury items such as fancy cars and artwork.
It's all part of Chavez's efforts to encourage Venezuelans to adopt the psyche of the "New Man," a socialist revolutionary with a monk-like purity of purpose. Chavez often cites the life of Cuba's iconic hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara as an ideal example - and complains that many Venezuelans' values are not up to par.
"We're one of the countries that consumes the most whisky per capita in the world. We should be ashamed," Chavez said recently on national television. "I'm not willing to continue offering dollars to import whisky in these quantities. What kind of revolution is this? The Whisky Revolution? The Hummer Revolution? No, this is a real revolution!"