Baptists and Bootleggers in the Tropics

Authoritarian thugs are often puritanical and self-righteous, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is earning his place in the pantheon of dictatorial killjoys, by limiting alcohol sales during Holy Week, a time when people in many Latin American countries take vacation and enjoy having some drinks with family and friends. Naturally, it’s created opportunities for bootleggers. As The New York Times reports:

[W]ith a wink and a nod, some restaurateurs were circumventing the ban by pouring wine into coffee cups. Beer, too, could be consumed in some establishments, albeit discreetly in plastic mugs. Some Caraqueños also told of a vibrant trade in illicit liquor sales in the city’s slums after 5 p.m.

Chavez may have been called many things, but never a Baptist — though a madman perhaps!

“I’ve been in this country 40 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen this,” said Antonio Gouveia, 54, a Portuguese immigrant who owns a bar here where patrons follow horse racing. “Holy Week is the best week of the year because people don’t work, they go out and spend.” Mr. Gouveia described the alcohol decree as “something for madmen.”

(Thanks to Our Drinking Buddy Larry for the New York Times link.)