Divisive politics, Latin American style

For those who have not been paying attention to Venezuelan politics, they are not pretty. Hugo Chavez is a popularly elected leftist President that has begun trying to fix the inequality gaps that have become common throughout Latin America. The problem with this is simple: the powers-that-be (i.e. the middle and upper classes and the landed elite) HATE Chavez. Why?

Well, for one thing, he does not represent their interests. He represents the lower and low-middle class interests. Second, his policies are socialist in nature which tends to piss off the international business markets. This typically means deflation of the currency as foreign capital flees the country; they (international capitalists) fear that he might nationalize some businesses and institute price controls which might limit their profits.

What is the result of this? People tend to either love or hate Chavez with little in-betweens. During the last election cycle most of the middle class boycotted the election in an attempt to discredit Chavez and make him look like a dictator. During our stay, most of the anti-Chavez folks looked upon us with frowns (it was obvious we were in country for the Forum). On one of our last days in town we entered a bar and had a drink. During our conversation we noticed a sticker on the wall advocating the election boycott. I began to get nervous that we were not in a good bar simply because any Chavez supporter who worked or owned the place would have immediately taken the sticker down. I was right. After our first round of drinks the waitress silently brought us our check. The welcome mat had been dramatically put away. Promptly, we paid our bill and left.

I have never had a similar situation happen here in the States. And believe me, I have been in plenty of places and made my political beliefs known, loudly and clearly. Very interesting.

’nuff for now

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