Saturday, November 25, 2006

First impressions

Hi everyone, John Peterson here with the U.S. HOV delegation.

Just some first impressions of my first morning ever in Venezuela (November 25, 2006), which will mostly be photographs with a little commentary.

Wow - Venezuela - the front line of the world revolution! Excited to be here to say the least! The contradictions are everywhere...

The airport is modern and clean, full of European-style shops, and most of the travellers are escualidos, as one would imagine. But as soon as you head out over the mountains, past the famous "viaducto Caracas-La Guaira"*, it's another story. There are signs everywhere of improvement, but the scars of neglect and poverty are apparent everywhere. No wonder the Latin American revolution really took off here first.

A first view of the famous cerros:

Here's a look at one of the Barrio Adentro houses where the Cuban doctors live and provide basic medical care:

Here's a very militant barrio, the 23 de Enero:

"Vote for Chavez"

Today is the "closing of the campaign" for the opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, and there is a rally taking place as we speak. Unfortunately for them, it would appear that the numbers will be relatively tiny, despite busing people in from all over. The media will of course play it up. According to one person I spoke to, the escualidos have been encouraged to carry only Venezuelan flags (the old seven-star variety) on the demo so that if the numbers are small, they can use video footage of previous opposition marches where they only carried the flag!

We passed a couple of the mini marches that were gathering at strategic locations to go to the main rally. Here's the first one:

And here's another escualido demo we passed:

So while I can't give any definitive account of how their main rally turned out, it didn't look like the buildup was very intense. The rich seemed more interested in holiday shopping or a weekend stroll than their final pre-electoral demo!

We'll see how this compares to the Chavez "closing of the campaign" rally tomorrow, which by all accounts will be massive.

To finish, just a couple more photos:

The skyscrapers of Caracas (note the corporate logos - as if you could miss them!)

Here's some funny grafitti from an escualido neighborhood:

"Bolivar wasn't a communist"

That's all for now!


* The viaduct was a bridge across a valley that reduced the time necessary to go to and from the airport. It collapsed roughly a year and a half ago, and the opposition makes a huge stink about the fact that it hasn't yet been repaired. But they fail to note that it was left to rot under pre-Chavez governments, that the damage was an offshoot of the terrible landslide that hit the state of Vargas in 1999, and that it will be rebuilt by early next year - well-ahead of schedule. Here's a pic:

1 comment:

Ben said...

Thanks for the account of what's happening down there. The writing is on the wall. I'm tired of neoliberalism versus socialist economics. I desperately want to see a new model of social economy and I really do hope that Venezuela sends as powerful a signal around the world as it can.

I wonder what lengths the spin doctors will go to to make this look like the iniquitous seizure of a vote. I wish this revolution were better understood in Canada.