There are some public figures that I just can't stand to watch and listen to. That is the case for me with Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. He makes me so mad that I feel like throwing a shoe at the TV every time he appears on it. I hate him, and I find his latest stint quite manipulative, just like most everything else he does.

It turns out that for years, Chavez has had his own reality show called Aló Presidente. For those who don't know, Hugo Chávez stars in this weekly address, dressed up in his ridiculous red attire -- and, just as if he was a Kardashian, cameras follow him around while visiting housing projects, cutting ribbons at factory openings and taking over businesses and private property on behalf of the government. He even has a catch phrase: "Expropriate it!"

I'll admit that as an entertainer, he doe have what it takes to star in his own bizarre show. Now his latest gig is Housing Thursday which features him and his team handing over new apartments and houses to underprivileged Venezuelans -- whom, of course, all respond with telegenic tears and expressions of gratitude towards their president. This new live national broadcast has been qualified as "part reality TV and part game show," but in the end, I think it's really nothing more than an attempt to get reelected in the upcoming October elections.

Chavez has pledged to build 200,000 housing units this year and in a country where millions live in poverty, projects like this one obviously generates fierce loyalty. He recently gave a new apartment to a woman for becoming his 3 millionth follower on Twitter.

Of course, there are two sides to every story. Although many residents believe they own these properties, the truth is that the government plans to "eventually" sell them to the occupants at below-market rates. These homes can be taken away at any time. The residents receive a document authorizing them to occupy their new houses "as long as they follow rules aimed at preserving a harmonious community." 

Recovering from cancer treatments, Chavez has recently been less publically visible, but the housing giveaways continue, even if he's not there personally handing over the keys to the lucky ones. The giveaways are just another example of how a president like Chavez has been able to maintain popular support for nearly 14 years, despite the fact that there's out-of-control crime, erratic basic services and terrible poverty plaguing Venezuela; inflation last year was second only to Ethiopia. More than a true leader, Chavez really is the ultimate "showman".

Honestly, Chavez is an outrage to Latin America and all Venezuelans. I truly feel for the Venezuelan citizens who have to put up with his lies and corrupt government and I hope for their sake that it all ends soon.

What do you think of the situation in Venezuela? Would you watch a reality TV show following a world leader?

Image via ¡Que comunismo!/flickr

About the author

Sofia was born in Mexico and moved to New York in 1997. She has a 6-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy who are usually the main characters in her blog Slap cada día. After  a long career in advertising, last year she decided to leave the corporate world to chase her own entrepreneurial dreams and work on her writing.

 

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