Thurs 29 Nov: The Anti-Chavez/ "No" Vote March
Trip Start Sep 25, 2007
50Trip End Jul 25, 2008
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Yesterday, I was on my way to visit the Contemporary Art Museum in the Bellas Artes region of Caracas. After 30 mins of wandering off in wrong directions and trying to find the right entrance, I was disturbed by an ever growing crowd of people on the streets. I knew that the "No" (Anti-Chavez reforms) march was going to take place that day, but I hadnīt realised it would be starting from Bellas Artes
A guy next to me started talking to me, interested to know why I was filming, and who I was with. I explained that I was just by myself...a tourist...observing. We established that we were both from the "Si" ideology...and I found out that the man (Rafael) was recording what was going on for some intelligence purposes as he kept on hiding his camera. It worked out really well, as he ended up guiding me through the march, and we followed the crowds of people all the way down Av. Bolivar to the front of the protest. We were weaving in and out of the actual march...and he was surprised to see that there were quite a lot of people present. The march was quite tame...I didnīt see any confrontation...and it reminded me a little of the Notting Hill Carnival in London - on the sides of the street were hot dog and juice vans, jewelery sellers
We walked one street away from the Av. Bolivar...where it was surprisingly calm. Making our way to the centre of town (Plaza Bolivar), Venezuelan life continued as normal. People sitting around...buying and selling in the street markets...peaceful pan-pipe music playing in the centre of the square. Dotted around were the red "Si" campaign tents...with pro-Chavez supporters handing out more information on the proposed changes. I started talking to a woman manning the "Si" tent, and asked if she was working for the government. She said that these people were here voluntarily...because they believed in the campaign and wanted to educate people about the proposed changes. She also spoke about the amount of false information circulating in the press...I also noticed that everyone on the street had an opinion
Rafael was talking about the numerous manifestations he had been present at...as an observer. He was down the street from the shootings in April 2002 (the Coup d`etat), and kept on stressing that I see the documentary showing how photos, videos and information were severely manipulated in the international press to blame the massacre
on President Chávez and the Bolivarians. In fact, Rosa had already showed me that documentary (Llaguno Bridge Keys to a Massacre ), which you should try and watch.
I really enjoyed talking to Rafael...a really interesting and friendly guy...very good looking too (a bit too old for me), but Cupid started calling...and when I found out he was single, I thought of introducing him to Rosa. I thought they would go very well together. We were quite close to where she worked, and so we wondered over there before I was to catch a lift back to the house with Rosa. I was pleased to see that they got on really well....and its quite clear they were both interested :) Anyways, time will tell if anything is going to happen.
Today the "Si" march is going to take place...and I will be marching alongside Carmen and Rosa who are supporting the campaign...More pictures to come...
I still need to put up my thoughts and opinions on Chavez and the proposed changes...but am still in the process of absorbing all the information that is flying around. I still need to talk to hardcore "No's" in depth and to the people from the barrios...But in general, I think that it is promising that the people of Venezuela themselves can decide on their own political system and on democratic reforms. It is clear that there is a lot of polarisation - you are either a hardcore Si or No...This is understandable because you either believe in socialist and egalitarian ends or not. So far, the reforms look like they would enhance democracy. In fact some of the local councils that have already been established look like they are here to stay, and they not only serve the Chavistas - there are many people from the opposition gaining power and mobilizing people through these democratic councils.