Presidencia, Venezuela

If Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appears to have a little more spring in his step these days, it's gotta be the shoes.

Looking like an '80s rapper in a retro Adidas jacket, Maduro this week unveiled a new Hugo Chávez-inspired “socialist sneaker,” which looks suspiciously similar to a red Converse All Star classic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=31&v=Cr_JszhuVUs

“These are the Chávez boots, look at them, these are the boots of Bolivarian youth socialism,” Maduro bellowed on state television last Saturday, as he held up a prototype of the red sneaker.

The “Bolivarian” shoe was introduced during a speech commemorating the seventh anniversary of the ruling socialist party’s youth movement.  According to the president, the movement’s first members wore red sneakers like his new Chávez kicks.

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“Seven years later our country’s youth are wearing the boots of 21st century socialism,” Maduro said.

The announcement left some local media outlets scratching their heads, wondering if the Venezuelan government is actually planning to roll out a new line of socialist sneakers, or whether Maduro was just speaking metaphorically.

“Will the revolutionary elite even wear humble shoes like this, when they are used to wearing brands like Nike, Adidas and Chanel?” scoffed local website La Patilla.

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Like most things in Venezuela, it's impossible to know what will actually happen until it does. But the new shoes look like they'd be comfortable to wear for long waits standing in lines for shampoo, toilet paper, milk and other basic items that are becoming increasingly hard to find in Venezuela as the nation's oil-dependent economy tanks.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.