In the Land of the Brother Leader - Vacation in Libya?

(LA Weekly) Michael J. Totten - My Air Afriquiya flight touched down on the runway next to a junkyard of filthy, gutted, and broken-down Soviet aircraft in an airport otherwise empty of planes. Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, mastermind of the 1969 Al-Fateh Revolution (a euphemism for his military coup), Brother Leader of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, greeted arrivals in the passport-control room from a menacing, almost snarling, gold-gilded portrait. The capital city of Tripoli was an asteroid belt of monolithic apartment towers with all the charm of gigantic sandblasted filing cabinets. The streets were mostly empty of cars, the sidewalks empty of people. I saw no restaurants, no clubs, no bars and no malls. While I saw no corporate advertising, I did see one hysterical propaganda billboard after another, socialist cartoons from the Soviet era. The Happy Worker theme was a common one; smiling construction workers wore hardhats, and Bedouins-turned-widget-makers basked in the glory of assembly-line work. The hotel gift shop offered a fantastic selection of Qaddafi watches ranged in price from $25 to $600. The one I bought shows Qaddafi wearing his military uniform, officer's hat, and sunglasses like a swaggering Latin American generalissimo. The lobby was plastered all over with portraits of the boss in various poses.

2005-12-30 00:00:00

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