Venezuela's Presidential race heats up
By Aleksander Boyd
Caracas 01.10.06 | Well folks I'm back in Caracas after having visited Sabana de Mendoza, Arapuey, Caja Seca, Arenales, Tucani, El Vigia, Merida, Ejido, Lagunillas, Santa Cruz de Mora, Tovar, Bailadores, Zea, Valera (barrios Cantarana, Sin Techo, El Milagro), Isnotu (Jose Gregorio Hernandez's sanctuary) and San Felipe in Yaracuy state. As you can see there's a lot of travelling involved in a campaign. Few things shocked me in this trip. First is the pauperous state of most areas. Poverty in the barrios of Valera, for instance, is worse than in Caracas. One can see malnourished children with inflated bellies just as one would see in sub Saharan countries, it's a mind-boggling spectacle for, as we all know, Chavez would rather prop the political careers of Islamofundamentalists supporters such as Ken Livingstone than attend to the problems of the children of his own country.
The seed of hatred that Chavez has sown has infected some people. What I saw yesterday in barrio Cantarana in Valera was sheer hatred, Venezuelans pitted against each other because of politics. There's much anger, in both sides. But what has me pondering is why. I am yet to meet the poor chavista that can provide a coherent defense of the last 8 years of misadministration. There are some who still support Chavez but they have great difficulties explaining in what ways have their lives improved. Chavez's geniality lays in having made people feel empowered when in fact they are totally excluded from decision-making processes. Their opinions are worthless, of no interest whatsoever for Chavez, who keeps wanking with the dream of becoming the heir of Castro, Bolivar and Guevara, the great leader marked by destiny to become Latin America's Jesus Christ. Poor people represent nothing but cannon fodder for the revolution. The good thing is that only very few of them are prepared to lose their lives for some utopic goal that they don't even understand. In fact a clever chap told me the other day that Chavez is destroying the Cuban revolution, upon whose repressive apparatus he's basing his defence against democracy. The disintegration is of a cultural nature for Cubans sent over to Venezuela are free to spend, eat, read and do as they wish for the first time in their lives. They go back and tell stories, which are spreaded by word of mouth, each time adding new details product of people's imagination. Hence that many Cubans want to come here and will probably turn their backs on Chavez cum crunch time, as the military will do.
Poverty, misery and ignorance are Chavez's great allies. The policy of lying continues unabated though. Yesterday I saw a huge billboard that read "now all Venezuelans know how to write their names." What a load of bullshit. I can go and fill a stadium here in Caracas with slum dwellers that don't know how to read and write, let alone in the provinces. Chavez said yesterday or the day before that in 2007 his government will build some 120.000 houses, something he has not been able to do in 8 years. He said he was busy -for 8 years- laying the foundations of the XXI century socialism. The positive thing is that, contrary to what the Livingstones of this world have to say, poor Venezuelans are simply fed up, they can't stand Chavez any longer, his international credibility is near zero however his constituency -i.e. people that have suffered the consequences of his galloping magalomania- are in a state of total revulsion towards him. He knows it, his underlings and the military know it too. Proof of this is that Chavez doesn't walk among the people any longer. The dispossesed have realised that they are an accessory to be used and disposed off as Castro's poodle sees fit. Playing leftist icon, wasting the country's resources and travelling at our expense in spanking new jets is always more fashionable and cool than having to face dehumanizing conditions in poverty ridden Venezuela.
I have gathered that there are two marked realities in this country: namely the Caracas reality and the interior-of-the-country reality. In Caracas there's fear: fear to lose the handouts, the job, access to MERCAL, fear of governmental repression, fear of retaliation which translates into submission. But there's also hope, hope for change and for the prospects that a change of government could bring.
Outside Caracas there's much restlessness and lots of contained anger. Chavez choose to spend the bulk of the money of his misiones in the Metropolitan area, however very little trickled down beyond those limits. The regime forgot that there's a country out there that has needs and that, believe you me, has got them lot in a state of anger for they know that the caudillo has been pilferring our monies in his international adventures.
Rosales is doing one hell of a job. For the first time in years we see a politico that doesn't allow Chavez to set the agenda and takes his message to Chavez's purported territory. He will have a crucial role to play as a peace-maker and he should be well adviced in adopting Ghandian attitudes if he is to reconcile Venezuelans. One thing is certain though, the situation here will get nasty before the people impose its will over deceitful authoritarianism. Chavez won't go quiet, he's got much to lose and to be accountable for, but Venezuela is well prep and ready for the challenge.
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