Vuitton-clad Venezuela minister spouts socialism

CARACAS Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:02am GMT

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CARACAS (Reuters) - A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism then struggling to explain how his luxurious clothes square with his socialist beliefs has become an instant YouTube hit in Venezuela.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreno was momentarily at a loss for words when a journalist interrupted his speech and asked if it was not contradictory to criticize capitalism while wearing Gucci shoes and a tie made by Parisian luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton.

"I don't, uh ... I ... of course," stammered Carreno on Tuesday before regaining his composure. "It's not contradictory because I would like Venezuela to produce all this so I could buy stuff produced here instead of 95 percent of what we consume being imported."

The video clip (here) had been viewed more than 15,000 times on Thursday, a day after it was posted on the YouTube Web site.

Despite the best efforts of left-wing President Hugo Chavez to instil austere socialist values in its people, the oil-rich South American nation remains attached to consumerism.

Riding a boom in oil prices, middle-class and wealthy Venezuelans are on a spending spree, guzzling fine whiskies and snapping up luxury cars. Poorer Venezuelans also have benefited, with subsidies driving a spike in demand for basic products.

(Reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel, writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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