Chávez's Daughter Poses With Dollar Bills, Unleashes Anger, Internet Meme

Jan 26, 2012
Originally published on January 27, 2012 7:55 am

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is known for railing against U.S. capitalism. And it's not just talk. Since 2003, his government has made it very hard for Venezuelans to trade foreign currency.

So you can just imagine the uproar in the country when his 14-year-old daughter Rosinés Chávez published a picture of herself covering half her face with a wad of dollar bills.

The Guardian reports:

"Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites seethed with resentment from people who said they had been unable to change bolívares, the local currency, because of government limits on the amount of dollars that can be bought at the official, fixed rate.

"Exchange controls adopted in 2003 to reduce capital flight oblige Venezuelans to navigate a state agency called CADIVI which is notorious for delays, corruption and capping individual allowances at $3,000 (£1,911) a year. Those with inside connections get extra greenbacks, those without must take their chance on an illegal parallel market which charges double for dollars.

"'I can't have even a single dollar unless I buy it on the black market because CADIVI has us prisoner!!!' said Marisel Ramírez, one typical comment on the website of a newspaper, Diario Maracaibo. 'What annoys me is the mockery given that we have to beg CADIVI and banks to give us dollars,' said Gerar Ortega, another commentator.

We spoke to Sarah Grainger, a freelance journalist in Venezuela. She said the president has not said anything about the photograph, yet, even though during the past few weeks, Chávez has been on the air more often. Chávez has been recovering from cancer and hasn't been his usual talkative self, said Grainger.

Now, the big question is how this might affect Chávez during an election year. Grainger says this will be scrutinized, though she said something like this will not make a difference to his hardcore supporters or Chavistas.

Univision News' Tumblr, which is where we first stumbled upon this story, reports that the photograph has created a new verb in Venezuela: "Rosinesing" now means posing with a collection of items in front of your face. The meme has been spreading throughout the day on Twitter.

Grainger said one of the images that appeared online shows one person holding four bottles of cooking oil, which in Venezuela has become scarce.

That photo was posted by Alberto Manrique, a Venezuelan blogger, who today kept working the thread. He pointed to Rosinés' Instragram feed and it shows a girl with a fondness for American culture. She has pictures of teen star Justin Bieber and of country star Taylor Swift.

Manrique points to a recent picture she uploaded that shows an iPad with a picture of the Hollywood heartthrob Robert Pattinson.

"I want to be son of the president," Manrique tweeted. "I don't even have an iPad."

Of course, all of this is a big deal because her father is known to rail against imperialism and capitalism. So a daughter with access to dollars and American luxuries smacks of hypocrisy.

"Let's save the human race," Chavez said in 2006 during a speech in Tehran. "Let's finish off the U.S. empire."

Perhaps Juan Forero, at The Washington Post, put it best: "Rosines's picture, for many Venezuelans, highlights the parallel system at work: easy access for those close to Chavez, restrictions for those with no connections."

Update Jan. 27 at 9:54 a.m. ET.: Since we published this piece, Rosinés' Instagram feed has been made private.

Correction at 4:19 p.m. ET.: Earlier we called Justin Bieber American. He is in fact Canadian.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.