But I bet you don’t know much about the other side of Venezuela’s rusty, barely-chugging socialist machine: a small minority of “socialist millionaires” and other wealthy Venezuelans living high on the hog.
While the mass protests against President Nicolas Maduro show that Venezuelans’ anger at their hardship is boiling over, the well-off are still managing to have fun.
Behind tightly guarded and fortified walls, posh bars and eateries are full. The Buddha Bar opened in 2015, when the economic crisis was already well underway.
Venezuelan party-hoppers and high society diners can plunk down tens of thousands of Bolivars for a night’s entertainment, and, buoyed by their rare wealth, they don’t have to bat an eye.
Some of the rich in Venezuela protest by day and party by night.
One customer, Ahisquel, says she joins in the protests herself but still comes to the bar once a week with her husband, an oil executive. Like most customers interviewed, she declined to give her full name.
“By day we throw stones and by night we come here,” she says.
“After the protests it is good to have a moment to relax — though we’ll never relax until this government is gone.”
Of course, as this bourgeoisie dines and dances the night away, the rank and file Venezuelan can’t make ends meet. How is this phenomenon happening?
Inside the Venezuelan Iron Curtain, most of the wealthy have earned their money working for foreign corporations. One rich man told Yahoo News,”In this country, if you are not paid in foreign currency, it is impossible to live.”
At the same time, there’s a class of “boli-billionaires,” a sort of nouveau riche group that has emerged, having made their fortunes on the back of Hugo Chavez’ revolution. The Venezuelans who have made their money the old-fashioned (read: capitalist) way look down on this new money class.
It’s sad to see that, so many years after the failure of Soviet Communism, we see the same thing happening all over again in South America. Socialism works – as long as you’re on the right side of the socialist system.