Festive Left Friday Blogging: Simon Bolivar goes to Rio

Woo-hoo! Congratulations are in order to Hugo Chavez and PDVSA for scoring a major, MAJOR victory:

The annual parade competition at Brazil’s famous Rio de Janeiro carnival has been won by a samba group largely funded by the Venezuelan government.

The Vila Isabel group, which was declared the winner after a dance-off, had Latin American unity as its theme.

Vila Isabel’s president, Wilson Moises Alves, thanked Venezuela’s national oil company, PDVSA, for its funding.

PDVSA will not say how much money was involved, but reports estimate its donation at more than $500,000.


It is Vila Isabel’s second carnival victory, following on from a win in 1988.

The Vila Isabel procession featured floats showcasing the brotherhood of Latin Americans, including a huge effigy of Simon Bolivar and a 1960s anthem dedicated to the left, called I’m Crazy About You, America.

Local media said the samba school had invited Mr Chavez to the street party, but he had declined.

In lieu of more Chavecito pics (though those would be nice, too), here’s the winning school’s float–showcasing Simon Bolivar in all his noble glory:

Pic #1

Pic #2

Pic #3

Just beautiful.

For those who can read Spanish, enjoy Lubrio’s posts on it, here and here. Also see his explanation of the various parts of the parade, here.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition–never ones to let a good deed go unpunished–are kvetching their asses off:

One opposition hard-line group is accusing Venezuela President Hugo Chavez Frias of squandering public monies and will ask the Attorney General to open an investigation.

Sophisticated Grand Dame columnist, Marianella Salazar rants about the degrading spectacle of an image of Simon Bolivar portrayed with a heart in his hand.

Columnist Nelson Bocaranda says the Vila Isabel (Mad for You, America) parade was ignored by the public and complains about advert spots promoting Venezuela as a tourist venue during the TV coverage of the parade.

I fail to see what’s so “degrading” about it–the Bolivar float was breathtaking.

And seeing as the whole world now knows who the winner is, it’s hard to believe that it’s going unnoticed. Especially in the realm of travel and tourism, where Venezuela is seeing strong–and well deserved–growth.

But then, I’m sure these people would love nothing more than to get the palmy old days of corruption and neglect back–after all, how do you think they got so damn rich? No wonder it kills them to see PDVSA money going toward a deserving samba school that put on a terrific show, celebrated Latin American unity and culture, and won on the basis of indisputable merit. In the old days, they would have pocketed that money themselves and not given a damn–or a dime–to anyone else, however worthy.

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