The Streets and the Forum in Caracas

Talking with people in the streets here in Venezuela makes me realize that the best way to get news is talking with people, face to face. It’s better than any newspaper or analytical essay. This way you can see expressions, hand gestures, clothes – people are living forms of media, transferring information and ideas better than any website ever could.

Today we met a couple of Argentines who had been traveling across the continent since October 2005. They went by boat from Asuncion, Paraguay up to Bolivia and Brazil, traveling mainly through jungle areas; they made conscious decisions to travel off the beaten path. This has taken them through almost every country in South America. From Venezuela, they’re heading to Suriname.

They didn’t believe that what’s going on in Venezuela is a revolution. One of them explained that "the fact that this is considered a revolution by so many people just shows how messed up the world is now, and how bad the situation in Venezuela must have been before Chavez came to power." They believed it was a good government, and supported Cuba as well. One of them said Haiti is an example of what Cuba could have turned into if it hadn’t had its revolution…

Outside of politics, one man in El 23 de Enero barrio explained some of the traditions they have in the neighborhood. One of them was that every Christmas three "wise men" ride through the barrio throwing out candy to the children. They also decorate the area a lot for Christmas and collect toys to distribute to all the kids in the area.

Chavez Doll

Chavez Doll

There is a widely held belief here that if a true global revolution is to take place, it will have to be sparked from the US. Therefore, it’s up to Americans to work in the belly of the beast to make this happen, as the US is where much of the forces of corporate globalization originate.

The forum is now officially underway. The schedule was handed out and thousands of participants have arrived. Tonight we went to a big concert/speaking event which took place after a large march from the university. At the event, Medea Benjamin of the anti-war group Code Pink, and Cindy Sheehan among other North Americans from social movements in the US, spoke. It was great to hear them representing some of the many wonderful projects, movements and initiatives in the US. In the world social forum in Brazil last year I felt as though the US was poorly represented by activists in attendance. This year it seems like more North Americans have arrived. This is important because, in my experience, there’s a lot of curiosity among Latin Americans about why the US is in the mess it is, and why it’s still run by an imperialistic, right wing government. Hopefully at this forum there will be enough US participants to answer these questions as well as explain that there is great work being done in the US by a lot of people and that we aren’t all capitalist war-mongers.