3

The Chávez Way

LONDON – I remember the exact date of my visit to Venezuela. I was sunbathing by the pool on the roof of the Caracas Hilton. A waiter came up to me and mumbled something about a bomb attack in New York. I rushed to my room and saw the news footage, endlessly replayed, of two airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center.

I was in Venezuela on September 11, 2001, to attend a conference on the “Third Way.” Hugo Chávez was very interested in the Third Way – a modus vivendi between American-style capitalism and state socialism – as had been Tony Blair a few years earlier. Chávez himself, dressed in fatigues, briefly graced the meeting with his presence, receiving a heavy volume of Marxist texts from an elderly professor.