Three cups of soup

The Venezuelans wanted change. They got it.

While President Hugo Chavez struggles to revive the battered bolivar, in a hillside slum overlooking his palace, die-hard supporters are talking about getting rid of the Venezuelan currency altogether.

Welcome to the 23 de Enero barrio, home to about 100,000 people and something of a laboratory for Chavez’s nationwide socialist experiment. Here you find dogs named “Comrade Mao”, and even a “revolutionary car wash.”

“We are creating a popular bank and are going to issue a communal currency: little pieces of cardboard,” says Salvador Rooselt, a soft-spoken 24-year-old law student and community leader who often quotes Lenin and Marx.

Some 20 militant groups sometimes described as Chavez’s “storm troopers” run this urban jungle in western Caracas, where hulking concrete buildings daubed with colorful murals — one depicting Jesus Christ brandishing an AK-47 rifle — show off the neighborhood’s radical tradition.

“We are giving capitalism a punch in its social metabolism,” said Rooselt, of the Alexis Vive group, wearing its trademark bandana with the image of guerrilla icon Ernesto Che Guevara around his neck.

A deeply-rooted socialist ideology, absolute territorial control and financing from the government have allowed Alexis Vive to put into practice some of the ideas Chavez is struggling to implement in the rest of Venezuela.

Socialist stores sell milk and meat from recently nationalized producers at about a 50 percent discount. Residents do voluntary work, kids are encouraged to steer clear of drugs, and some youths have even joined a pioneer organization modeled on similar groups in Communist Cuba.

“I’m sure President Chavez supports our initiatives and seeks to implement them at a national level,” Rooselt said.



3 thoughts on “Three cups of soup

  1. I’m plenty ashamed of how the Cuban people flushed their country down the toilet, but at least at first they were lied to, big time, meaning Castro did a definite number on them. He definitely did NOT run around singing the praises of Marx or Stalin, or putting forth the Soviet Union as a paragon to be emulated. Chavez, on the other hand, was FAR more frank and unguarded about who and what he admired and where he was coming from, and the example of Cuba was there for all to see, and Cubans desperately warned Venezuelans not to eat the poisoned apple. They ate it, with relish, till the poison started having its effects. They have only themselves to blame.

  2. asombra,

    Goes to show you how “intelligent” the Venezuelans are. Sorry if anyone gets insulted but, the truth must be told even if some cannot handle it…

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