The Associated Press reports that Hollywood’s newest favorite Socialist is cracking down on drinking, smoking, and materialism:
CARACAS, Venezuela – 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!”
Sales of both premium whisky and Hummers are booming, however, and a good number of Venezuelans are unapologetic about it. It won’t be easy for Chavez to persuade his people to shed their shopping-mall materialism and hard-drinking ways.
As you can imagine, there will be some protests about this:
“If I drink my bottle of whisky it’s because I worked for it. I made the sacrifice and therefore I can drink whatever I want,” said shopkeeper Ernesto Gonzalez, 49, who gawked at Hummers and luxury cars at an auto show in Caracas where people sipped draft beer and pina coladas on the showroom floor.
Just be careful how loud you say that, Ernesto.
Chavez, however, has other plans. On Monday, tax agency chief Jose Vielma Mora said the government is tightening restrictions on granting dollars to companies importing liquor, especially whisky. That will force many companies to buy black-market dollars — currently trading at more than twice the official rate, to import Chivas Regal for instance, raising the price considerably.
The government also plans tax increases next week of up to 50 percent on a range of alcoholic beverages, while cigarette taxes will rise to 70 percent from 52 percent.
Taking notes, Hillary?
Ok, how about some volunteers for Hugo’s “New Man” revolution? Will it be his new pal Sean Penn, whose role as the pot-smoking, beer drinking, pizza eating “Jeff Spicoli” in 1982’s cult classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High launched his acting career? One can only hope …
Sean Penn then.
Sean Penn now. Not much has changed.
Sean and Hugo sittin’ in a tree …
Other friends of Hugo include: Hollyweird actors Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, Princeton University’s Cornel West, former anti-war darling Cindy Sheehan, and Iran’s Islamofascist “leader” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I believe that old saying about you being known by the company you keep applies here.