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Venezuela's poorest turn out massively to support Rosales

By Aleksander Boyd

El Mojan 29.10.06 | "May I take pictures of your rancho Seņora? Of course you can, do come here and I'll show how we live mijo." My first question to Maigualida was "but you're a Chavez supporter, aren't you?" Her reply shocked me as much as the abject poverty in which she and her family live "I was with Chavez, I voted for him, but no more, he has betrayed us all indigenous peoples, and god is my witness for in the presence of god one can't lie."

Maigualida lives in a rancho made of zinc sheets. Zinc sheets folks in a place with a daily average temperature of 40 degrees centigrade. But she's not alone, she's got 6 children. One of them was sleeping on the floor (see picture on the left) when I walked into the rancho. The rest of them were outside, in fact one of them brought me to the rancho after I saw him and asked him to take me to his house. This town is located in Mara district. "People here are the poorest not only of Venezuela but of Latin America" said to me earlier Moises Arevalo, who was referring to a study allegedly published a while ago. "There are government plans that have had some success. For instance there are soup kitchens that provide food to the needy. People in these districts (Mara and Paez) were profoundly chavistas. However after years of neglect and rampant corruption at the state-controlled coal mining industry Wayu and other indigenous groups have seen very little improvement. While a handful of chavistas get stinkingly rich, Guajiros -an all encompasing term used here to refer to different indigenous groups- are having it rough. The best example is the Mayor of Padilla, who was in opposition to Chavez and about a month ago jumped ship. Money is a very powerful bargaining tool around here" added Moises.

Maigualida and some family members

The kitchen is located outside the rancho, next to a pool of stagnant water. Decomposed rubbish everywhere...

Back in Maigualida's place I asked her in what ways had she benefited from Chavez's social programmes. She said with a bitter expression that the Wayu people, ethnic group to which she belongs, had been used by Chavez "he came around and made many promises, he promised he would take care of us, he said he would give us decent houses, but as you can see, nothing has been done." The life conditions of Maigualida are by no means an isolated case, as commented earlier even in Caracas one can see many people living in subhuman manner. But the thing that strikes me the most is that these people still have a positive disposition towards the future. They still smile, which baffles me. And guess what? Maigualida does not know how to read and write and only one of her children is attending school on a regular basis. I said to her that Chavez and his minions were boasting all around the world that Venezuela was an "illiteracy-free" country. She said that very few people in her community knew how to read and write and that most children aren't attending school. When I relied to her that Chavez was building houses in Cuba and sending resources that belong to all Venezuelans -but above all to indigenous peoples- to other countries she started cursing in Wayu.

Manuel Rosales visited El Mojan today. Despite the fact that the district is in the hands of chavistas Wayu people turned out massively to show support for Rosales' candidacy. As many Venezuelans all around the country, the revolutionary spell seems to have lost its appeal. Avalanches of hope are covering Venezuela. On Friday for instance we visited Bachaquero, Lagunillas, Ciudad Ojeda, Cabimas, Tia Juana, Santa Rita and Los Puertos de Altagracia on the Eastern side of Maracaibo lake. Although I am by no means an expert in calculating crowd numbers I would venture to say that the combined number of people that showed up was more than 150,000. That's one day. The next day Rosales went to Barcelona in Anzoategui state and the previous he visited Punto Fijo and Coro in Falcon state. The prospect of participating anonimously in political events demonstrates that, beyond fabricated polls whose results are marred by fear of reprisal, the majority of Venezuelans are in support of Rosales.



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