Katy says: This news item made me chuckle. In it, they quote Chávez saying that when he leaves Miraflores he'll be "as poor as when he came in." Since he is planning on leaving after he's dead and dead men don't carry cash, technically he'll leave even poorer than when he came in, but never mind. His collaborators and close confidants can't say the same thing.
While in Caracas, I heard horror stories from eyewitnesses to the ill-gotten wealth of chavistas. From direct sources, I learned, for example, that when a famous congresswoman known for her bright red hair bought her Mercedes Benz SUV in cash, the dealer asked her if she wanted tinted glass on her windows, and she said she did not because she wanted everybody to see her in that car. I learned about the brother of a chavista mayor of a large municipality who lives in a posh four-story penthouse in eastern Caracas (yes, four-stories). He has ten bodyguards waiting for him in the parking lot, and he owns a fleet of cars that includes 3 Hummers, a Porsche SUV and a BMW SUV. He is the head of appropriations of the municipality.
I heard stories about former presidents of the CNE building themselves multi-million dollar homes in Margarita designed by renowned architects. I heard stories about congressmen I am acquainted with who walk around wearing $5,000+ tailor-made suits and gold Rolex watches, dining at Caracas' poshest restaurants while doing business with the Italian government. I learned of acquaintances of mine who, by virtue of being related to PDVSA's higher management, have become "toll booths" for getting into the business of exploiting gas in our country.
People aren't stupid. Corruption is everywhere in Venezuela, and the fact that Chávez feels the need to address the issue means that it's becoming a big liability for the government.