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Chávez gift to Obama shoots book to No. 2 on Amazon.com

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent was ranked 54,295 on Friday.

By Matthew ClarkLatin America editor / April 20, 2009



Say what you will about Venezuela's fiery leftist President Hugo Chávez, he definitely has the Midas Touch ... at least with book sales.

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Just one day after handing President Obama a copy of Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, the anti-imperialist tome written in 1970 by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano has shot from being ranked 54,295 on Amazon.com's list of top sellers all the way up to No. 2.

US News and World Report is even calling Mr. Chavez "the next Oprah, at least when it comes to selling books."

Chávez presented the book – which has inspired generations of Latin American leftists – to Mr. Obama at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this weekend.

In response to the book's success on Amazon.com, Chávez jokingly proposed a business partnership with Obama.

"So I said, Obama, let's go into a business. We'll promote books – I'll give you one, you give me another," Chavez said.

This is not the first time a very public Chávez nod has caused book sales to skyrocket, Reuters points out.

That plug in 2006 shot Mr. Chomsky's book to Amazon's top spot and caused sales of the book to jump tenfold at both Borders Group and Barnes & Noble, the New York Times reported back then.

Chávez has never been shy about promoting his favorite books.

As the Monitor reported back in 2005, Chávez launched an initiative to print and distribute 1 million copies of Miguel de Cervantes's 1605 classic, Don Quixote – perhaps in the hope that people may compare him to the fictional defender of the oppressed.

"We are all going to read 'Quixote' to feed ourselves once again with that spirit of a fighter who came to undo injustice and fix the world," Chávez said at the time.

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