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Venezuelans on a spending spree

Manuel Rodriguez was walking through his neighborhood on a recent Saturday when he passed a Harley-Davidson showroom.

Rodriguez ducked inside, got on several gleaming motorcycles and within minutes was negotiating with a dealer to purchase two Harley-Davidson Road Kings — one for himself and another for his 30-year-old son. The total price: $57,000.

"It's unbelievable. What a bike!" said the 57-year-old factory owner. "I've always wanted to have one before I turned 60."

Like many Venezuelans, Rodriguez is flush with cash as this South American country rides an unprecedented wave of prosperity fueled by high oil prices, cheap credit and massive government spending that has created a new elite and bolstered President Hugo Chávez's popularity less than a month before he seeks re-election.

Read the rest of the Chicago Tribune article here.


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