Thursday, September 6, 2007

Day 8: Clausurado, or My Encounter with President Chavez

Today, I learned a knew word "Clausurado" (shut down).

I´m at the windsurfing center and something is definitely wrong. The owner, a white woman I´ve never seen before, is nervously going through a stack of papers. A guy in a military uniform is standing patiently in front of her.

There is a similar scene at the tiki bar. There are no customers. Theo, the owner, doesn´t look happy and raises his eyebrows in that "what are you going to do" look as he walks by me.

There is no one windsurfing.
There is no one eating or drinking.

Turns out the Venezuelan IRS has descended on El Yaque and is shutting down virtually all the windsurfing places, bars, restaurants, markets, hotels, etc. for 48 hours.

Apparently, Venezuelans are not used to paying taxes and the government is cracking down. One business owner said that if the punctuation is wrong on your forms, your business gets shut down. Another said that if you do business with someone who hasn´t paid their taxes, you get shut down. Everyone seems to agree that in the long run this is a good thing for the country. I don´t mean to callous, but I´m only here for another week so my time horizon is on the short side.

So, the windsurfing center, has a large sign posted that says "Closurado."
My hotel "Clausurado."
Tike bar "Clausurado."

Fortunately, even though my hotel is closed, they are not going to kick me out and make me sleep in a dirty field filled with rotting fish heads. If there is no restaurant or food mart open, they will give me something to eat.

At least, I can still use the beach and ocean.