"It is really ridiculous, like implementing a Muslim regime," said Jorge Dominguez, 36, leaving a liquor store at 4.55 p.m. with two chinking carrier bags full of beer.
"I got nervous. I thought Chavez had prohibited the sale of liquor seeing how he talks about Cuba, socialism and the (Iranian) ayatollahs," said 67-year-old retiree Enrique Salazar after buying three bottles to last him through the holiday.
Hugo's really done it now. He's relegated all of Venezuela to the status of college freshmen. Until the end of Easter, alcohol sales will be limited in public services such as restaurants to between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. while sales altogether are explicitly banned throughout the holy weekend. You heard me right. No spring break for Venezuelans.
The reason for the ban is because alcohol drinking infuriates Chavez. He blames Venezuela's love of whiskey on the great enemy up north, the United States. You see, it's all a plot to degrade the moral fiber of the country, leading to the 100 or so deaths every Easter blamed on drinking. It's no simple criminal act in which people need to be thrown in jail; it's an enemy plot!
What he didn't anticipate was that people would not simply submit to his edict. They're doing what all of us did at some point in college, only worse. Coca-Cola is ordered with a wink, a smile, and some extra tip. Bottles are being bid on as if liquor stores were stock exchanges. Given that everyone found out at the last minute, the mad rush to get the weekend wine has assured not only that everyone will get what they want, but Chavez will look like he's kowtowing to an Islamic regime on a Christian holiday.
Oh yeah, and he'll look like an idiot. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin lost some of his highly acclaimed popularity when, early last year, Russia experience an extreme vodka shortage. Because whiskey is to Venezuelans what vodka is to Russians, there is just no telling how far down Chavez may go!