Chavez Seeks Shangri-La with 'Socialist Cities'

<p>Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is pushing plans to create "21st century socialist cities" -- communities based on public participation and cooperation -- juxtaposed next to fiercely capitalist developments in the rest of the country.</p>
April 1, 2008, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"To be called Caribia, it's the first of about a dozen "socialist cities" that is intended as a utopia of sorts, where all residents will participate in community affairs and grow crops such as carrots and coffee on patches of countryside that will surround their homes."

"But to get there, you must first pass one of the swankiest shopping malls in Latin America. A Mercedez Benz SUV zooms by in a gray blur."

"Like so many other facets of life in Caracas, the juxtaposition is jarring, a contradiction that both extremes of the ideological spectrum here grapple with: Where does socialism fit into this oil-rich nation where the rich-poor divide is as palpable as anywhere else in Latin America? After all, that SUV that whizzed by is not an anomaly; luxury cars are all over the city, driving down highways and roads ringed by hillside slums."

"Mr. Chávez has a name for it: "21st-century socialism." And nothing embodies his vision that socialism and this intensely capitalist society can sit comfortably next to each other – more than Caribia."

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Published on Tuesday, April 1, 2008 in The Christian Science Monitor
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