Now we’re out of Venezuela I can say it. Hugo Chavez cuts a chilling figure. Put bluntly he is inciting people to lawlessness and while we were there he was on the television telling the “poor” to occupy properties that the “:rich” own as they have enough. One of the contacts we made spent most of one day we were visiting in court trying to get people evicted from one of his properties. the judge, a Chavez supporter, decided that our acquaintance didn’t need more than one property so rejected his claim to get his property back. Shades of Mugabe I’m afraid.
You don’t have to be in country long to realise that Chavez is media obsessed and a self-promoter almost without peer. There are billboards with his mug shot everywhere – it’s pretty nauseating – especially when on some of them you see 3 figures – Simon Bolivar (liberator from the Spanish), Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez. Talk about delusions of grandeur.
But the country is polarised about him – property owners se him pretty well as the devil incarnate, while the Left see him pretty much in the light he likes to paint himself in – the messiah for the masses. It looks like its going to end in tears.
We’ve only been in colombia a couple of days but the difference is palpable. In Venezuela at sundaown (we’re in the tropics so its 12 hours darkness) the shops and houses are locked and shuttered, the streets deserted. In Colombia at 11 pm at night the town squares are still filled with crowds high on merriment for the festive season, bands playing and so on. Venezuela is a nation thrown into the darkness of fear and incrimination, Colombia has emerged from that over recent years. What a contrast!