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Monday, January 30, 2006

The End of the WSF

The day after I heard Chavez speak I tried to go to some Venezuela-specific events to get a better sense of the politics. I went to a panel discussion about "Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights in Venezuela." Each panel talked about the situation of a various aspect of the society, women, labor, education, etc. The talk was good in that it gave a good explanation of each of this things, yet again it was hard to follow the Spanish. Later I went to a film called Venezuela Rising (Venezuela Crece). It was made by Americans but this was the first time it had ever been shown in English. The film makers were in Caracas for 9 days around the election in August 2004 to recall Chavez in which the opposition lost. The film was really interesting and did a really good job at giving a history of the current political situation. Although it focused on the Chavez supporters it also interviewed people from the opposition. The opposition interviewed were mostly upper-middle class people who were concerned that Chavez was only helping the poor. Although I didn't talk to people who opposed Chavez, other people who did heard all kinds of other arguments against him that are different than those in the film. To answer some of my questions I had after hearing Chavez speak, the film interviewed a lot of people who live in the really poor barrios surrounding Caracas who talked about their improved health systems, schools, free food centers, etc. and communities of people that had formed around the new services being provided in these slums. Driving down the highway in Caracas you can see the slums. Unlike in the US where you can usually assume that richer people live in the hills, in Caracas the hills are the slums. From a distance all you see is little shacks that look like they are about to fall over that are so close together and on such steep hills that they look like they are stacked up. Someone pointed out that the colors these houses are painted and they way they are stacked up make them look dr. seuss-ish (in a weird sort of way). Here's some pictures though they don't quite show it.

I don't know if I mentioned before that we moved to a different youth camp that was much more centrally located, dryer (except the first night when it poured) and had much more going on. One morning I woke up at 9 in the morning to music and realized that the music had been going all night through to the morning. There was much more of a social scene at this camp and it was easy to meet people. Besides people from Venezuela I met so many people from Colombia as well as a lot from Brazil. I guess that makes sense because those are the two bordering countries. Here is some pictures of the youth camp.

Yesterday was the last day of the conference and I decided I was ready to move on from Venezuela. I am now in the Lima, Peru airport where I am spending the night before catching a plane to Cuzco, Peru in the morning. From there, we'll see.

I wanted to put up some more pictures from the WSF but I am having problems with uploading more. I will try to do one additional Caracas post with pictures.


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