“To be rich is bad.”
Children of Venezuela’s ruling elite have attracted attention for their lavish celebrity-like lifestyles as their socialist country suffers from devastating food shortages and an economy in free fall.
The daughters and son of the country’s leaders have been caught flashing handfuls of dollars, gadding about with pop stars, and running up exorbitant tabs in some of the world’s most expensive hotels.
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At the helm of the clueless class is Rosines Chavez, the 21-year-old daughter of the country’s late populist authoritarian President Hugo Chavez, whose revolutionary creed was “to be rich is bad.” The millennial aristocrat reportedly fled Venezuela in 2016, soon after she posted a photo on social media in which she held up handfuls of dollar bills.
She now lives in Paris, unburdened by her father’s failed socialist experiment.
Chavez’s eldest daughter, 38-year-old Maria Gabriela, is said to be Venezuela’s richest woman, with a personal fortune of more than $4 billion reportedly stashed in European bank accounts. She allegedly amassed her fortune while acting as a kind of first lady during her father’s long reign.
The title of sexiest socialist might go to Daniela Cabello. The daughter of President Nicolas Maduro’s second in command, Diosdado Cabello, she is famous for her Instagram bikini shots, jet-setting lifestyle, and relationship with Latin pop star Omar Acedo.
Nor are the ladies the only gaudy members of Venezuela’s ruling elite. Two step-sons of Maduro ― whom the Trump administration recently deemed illegitimate and threatened military action against ― reportedly managed to blow $45,000 last year during an 18-night stay at the Ritz Paris, a bill that is roughly the monthly salaries of 2,000 ordinary Venezuelans. Yoswal Gavidia Flores and Walter Gavidia have also been spotted galavanting around some of Madrid’s most luxurious restaurants and jewelry stores.
Maduro himself was spotted last year laughing during an expensive private dinner with Turkish celebrity chef “Salt Bae.”
Many conservatives, including President Donald Trump, have presented Venezuela as a cautionary tale about the dangers of socialism. They have warned that newly empowered Democrats are more shamelessly embracing leftist policies and even the term “socialism”, which was once anathema. Young Americans have been found to prefer socialism to capitalism.
For their part, liberal commentators have rejected the notion that Venezuela can serve as a stand-in for socialism, let alone serve as a case against proposed left-wing reforms in the United States. They have instead pointed an accusatory finger at the Maduro government’s corruption and economic mismanagement.
Philosopher Slavoj Žižek has gone so far as to argue that Venezuela’s real problem is that it didn’t embrace socialism enough. He blamed capitalism and US interventionism for the country’s miserable condition.
Similar attempts were once ― and sometimes still are ― made to distinguish Soviet Russia and Maoist China from the Marxist ideologies that they championed.
Writing in 1920, British intellectual Bertrand Russel, having recently returned from a visit to Russia to meet then-Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, rejected such hairsplitting, saying, “A great part of the despotism that characterises the Bolsheviks belongs to the essence of their social philosophy, and would have to be reproduced, even if in a milder form, wherever that philosophy became dominant.”
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