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Venezuela's Chavez on Moral Crusade

President Hugo Chavez is on a moral crusade in Venezuela, preaching against vices from alcohol to cholesterol, vowing to curb whisky imports and ordering beer trucks off the street.

His government announced increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco on Monday, and Chavez also plans steep new taxes on luxury items such as fancy cars and artwork.

It's all part of Chavez's efforts to encourage Venezuelans to adopt the psyche of the "New Man," a socialist revolutionary with a monk-like purity of purpose. Chavez often cites the life of Cuba's iconic hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara as an ideal example — and complains that many Venezuelans' values are not up to par.

"We're one of the countries that consumes the most whisky per capita in the world. We should be ashamed," Chavez said recently on national television. "I'm not willing to continue offering dollars to import whisky in these quantities. What kind of revolution is this? The Whisky Revolution? The Hummer Revolution? No, this is a real revolution!"

Sales of both premium whisky and Hummers are booming, however, and a good number of Venezuelans are unapologetic about it. It won't be easy for Chavez to persuade his people to shed their shopping-mall materialism and hard-drinking ways.

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