Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Conversations....

Here I will summarize three conversations that I had or was witness too.

Conversation 1

One my way back from Margarita island on the ferry I had the great fortune to have an English couple (form London) sit next to me. After about 30 into the trip I decided to take up a conversation with the young woman (~25 yrs) who I later found out is a political science major. Our conversation began with small talk about how she liked Venezuela and how her trip was going (it was her first time traveling outside of England). She was enjoying her stay for the most part visiting Caracas, Barquisimeto, Margarita, Puerto La Cruz, and then Angel Falls. Her main complaints with Venezuela were that the services at hotels are terrible (this is very true and Venezuelans know this quite well), Venezuela is dirty, trash is every where (Venezuelans don't like to use the trash can).

After about 10 min of talking she asked me if I had seen the film "The revolution will not be televised", for these of you unaware this is government propaganda and has been proven to miss lead the viewer by leaving out information and distorting other info. (if interested please see the film "X-Ray of a lie"). I responded by saying that "no, but I had heard about it". She seemed quite excited about having seen it at first but quickly stated that she was disappointed that it had left the fact that Chavez led a coup in 1992. She did suggest that she was shocked that the film and other leftist media don't portray the Venezuelan crisis truthfully from what she had seen thus far.

As we continued talking she was shocked at how the government is disregarding private property with the land reform and invasions. She was also amazed that government officials were sanctioning thefts out of hunger. (if the people are hungry than there is something the government is not doing right and to say (publicly) stealing is ok, is inexcusable, where and how do you draw that line then). The most shocking comment to me came when here husband/boyfriend leaned over and said "remember it's now January" referring to the new law in which if you criticize Chavez or his government you may be punished with prison time. She also mentioned various times that she felt a lot of tension among the people and in particular a sense of hostility towards them, she felt it was because they were foreigners and might think they were American. I must admit she seemed very well informed about the current state of Venezuela, more than a typical tourist.

We discussed other topics such as G. W. Bush, Europe, and the war in Iraq, however it was the topic of Chavez that pleased me the most. At least one person (who appeared to be a leftist she reads the guardian) has seen the reality of Venezulea and seen Chavez for what he is a dictator and terrorist. Someone should tell Chavez he is losing his propaganda war.

Conversation 2

This conversation I had with the maid at our house who lives in a poor barrio of Caracas, she does not like Chavez. But I asked here what it is like where she lives, do the people really support him, etc..

Her response:
There is support for Chavez, although this comes in essentially two ways. The first is the expectation that he is going to give them something and the second is resentment and hatred for the opposition (no specific reason, its just hate, installed by Chavez and his rhetoric). She did say that the program Barrio Adentro does work to some degree. She did say that she does not discuss politics where she lives since it could get her into trouble either people wanting to discuss the beautiful revolution or that they may verbally harass and assault her.

It is the hatred and resentment that these people have towards the opposition that I find so disturbing. Especially since this hatred didn't exist before Chavez.


Conversation 3 this is my favorite

The day before I left Venezuela I spent the day with my cousins shopping in Chacao and Sabana Grande (in Caracas). It was here that I finally understood the Chavista mentality (at least when it comes to the poor people).

While looking for some jewelry to buy for my sister as a Christmas gift, a woman was looking at a ring, I will refer to her as (Chavista):

Chavista: how much is that ring?

Jeweler: it's $25,000 bolivares (Bs) (about $12 US)

Chavista: [yelling] $30,000 Bs!

Jeweler: Yes

Chavista: [yelling as she walks away] a pair of shoes don't even cost that much! That's a rip off!

Note to reader a pair of shoes cost at least $50,000 Bs and tennis shoes start around $100,000 Bs

Shoe vendor next to jeweler: Lady I don't know what shoes you are talking about because not even sandals are that cheap.

Chavista: [yelling] This place is a rip off I hope Chavez shut all of your businesses down.

Shoe vendor: If you don't like it here then go back to Petare (this is considered a low income area of Caracas and a Chavez strong hold).