A 3-minute communist shower....
Hugo Chavez is ruining Venezuela....
It's come to this in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela: The president is pleading with people to save water by limiting their daily cleansing routine to a 3-minute ``communist shower.''
Really. This is just the latest indication of how badly Mr. Chávez continues to mismanage the economy of energy-rich Venezuela, which should be one of the most prosperous nations in the world to judge from its vast hydrocarbon reserves.
Instead of offering Venezuela's 27 million people a better life, Mr. Chávez ``Bolivarian socialism'' has squandered the nation's wealth on military armament, populist schemes and the creation of a patronage state, a prescription for ruin and misery.
As a result, the deterioration of basic services that has characterized his prolonged tenure at Miraflores Palace is becoming impossible to deny. Today, water rationing and power shortages have become recurring, frustrating features of daily life.
There is a direct correlation between Mr. Chávez's oversized regional ambitions and the gradual impoverishment of basic services. He has gone on an arms-buying spree around the world, purchasing $4 billion in weaponry from Russia alone in recent years, meanwhile neglecting maintenance of the infrastructure that provides water and electricity.
At the moment, the president seems content to vent his own frustration on the very people who are suffering from his misguided policies. ``Some people sing in the bath for half an hour,'' he told a recent cabinet session, broadcast live. ``What kind of communism is that? Three minutes is more than enough!''
It's tempting to laugh this off as mere foolishness, Chávez being Chávez, but no one should underestimate the lengths to which Venezuela's leader is willing to go to promote his own self-interest.
At the moment, he is trying to distract Venezuelans from their discontent -- reflected in his falling popularity ratings -- by escalating tensions with Colombia and rushing troops to their common border. Last Sunday, he advised the country to prepare for war . . . then backed off two days later and said he doesn't seek conflict with his neighbor.