My friend Erica was telling me the other day about an essay by Gabriel García Márquez she read. In it, he explains that the only reason people think his books have all these fantastic, supernatural elements is that they've never been to Latin America. Around here, that stuff's not fantastic at all, it's just...life! From a Latin American perspective, most of 100 Years of Solitude is pretty much, you know, beat reporting...
It's certainly the feeling you got watching the news here yesterday. The government, determined to break a terrorists strike that's threatening the health of the nation, decided to finally take action. Military platoons fanned out to Aragua and Carabobo States to crack down on the evil oligarchs' striking companies. And which plants did they takeover first? Well, the breweries and the coke bottling plant, of course!
If you turned on the TV in Venezuela yesterday around noonish, what you saw was General Acosta Carles, the man in charge of liberating coke, greedily gulping down a soda in a gesture of revolutionary defiance. Just to punctuate his zeal, he then turned to the camera and belched "loud and long," as the LA Times (registration required) put it, before going on to more or less taunt the reporters there for about 20 minutes, in a bizarre show of thuggery mixed with just plain bad taste. General Acosta Carles first became notorious as the dude who randomly beats up on women demonstrators for very little reason. From yesterday on, he'll be remembered as General Belch.
The whole thing was surreal...soldiers pouring out by the dozen to "liberate" the nation's beer and coke. The heavily armed shocktroops of a leftist revolution safeguarding every Venezuelan's right to drink CocaCola. Just strange as hell, really. I mean, they could've gone to a food plant, they could've forced a hospital to reopen or something like that. Oh, but no.
The revolution has its priorities straight.
Beer comes first.
Everything else can wait.