American Consequences - August 2020

By Trish Regan

M y TV makeup was melting in the Venezuelan summer heat... That’s not an easy feat. This particular makeup is what I like to call “industrial strength.” It’s specifically designed to withstand bright studio lights. But what worked in New York City was no match for the sweltering June air of this small town on the outskirts of Caracas. With no fans in sight, and certainly no air conditioning, the air inside the church where I was seated felt sticky and stagnant. The only motion came from the pulpit where two hands were waving enthusiastically at the hundreds of people seated alongside me. The heat didn’t bother the rest of the crowd. They were here to see their savior. “1522 – the year Spain colonized YOU,” he bellowed in Spanish, his voice reaching a crescendo as he pointed to my row. “The great, indigenous people of Venezuela!” Technically speaking, there were a lot of Cubans in the room, a Japanese TV crew, and myself and my American news team. But, hey – who’s counting? Certainly not the man of the moment, Hugo Rafael Chavez... who fashioned himself as Venezuela’s messiah and bragged that the nation, under his socialist leadership, was “born again.” Tensions were high in Venezuela at the time. With oil prices at $66 a barrel and climbing, the Chavez administration was busy vilifying foreign oil companies. Indeed, within months

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