Hugo Chavez’s Latest Target in Venezuela: Breast Implants

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He’s outspoken about, well, everything. And now to the list of things Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opposes — golf, whiskey — we can add breast augmentation surgery. (via The New York Times)

In an address on state-run television over the weekend, Chavez criticized doctors who he said “convince some women that if they don’t have some big bosoms they should feel bad.” Chavez said some poor women seek costly breast lifts while at the same time struggling to make ends meet, which he called a “monstrous thing.”

(More on TIME.com: Cars, Breasts and Homes: Why America Likes Big)

Chavez’s critique takes aim at a booming industry in his country. According to estimates by the Venezuelan Society of Plastic Surgeons, between 30,000 and 40,000 women in the country undergo breast augmentation each year, which makes the South American nation one of the world’s leading markets for the procedure.

According to The New York Times, filmmaker Mireia Sallares, who focuses on feminist issues, told the newspaper Tal Cual, “I’ve never seen more silicone anywhere else.”

(More on TIME.com: The Young and Plastic Surgery Hungry)

The state-run newspaper, Correo, sided with Chavez, reporting that plastic surgery is as common as dentist appointments and wealthy parents have been known to buy their 15-year-old daughters breast implants for “coming of age” presents.

While the opposition newspaper, El Nacional, had a different take. Comparing Chavez to Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi, the paper said, “Now comes this antiquated, militaristic, coarse, repressive attitude on the freedom of women to do what they want with their bodies.”

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