If you walk around Caracas and use the slightest bit of imagination, you are in Philadelphia, New York, or Trenton. The city itself seems to have kept on its same track with no break for the movement toward Bolivarian Socialism. In short, the city is getting ready to get ready to change it seems. This may be very ill informed, but the impression I have recieved from a few citizens (with various levels of help in translating) is that the change in worldview and operating guidelines that would accompany a socialist revolution has not hit the people in the city. This does not sway the possibility of a true and profound change taking place.
Chavez´s detractors (not nearly as ubiquitous as the signs of his supporters) seem to come from two camps, both equally predictable. The first camp is the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, made popular in the fine film ¨The Revolution will not be Televised.¨ The second camp is the seemingly robust contingent of anarchists living in the country. They are not simply knee-jerk reactionaries to any form of the state, but intelligent, informed, and passionate young people who are presenting the Alternative Social Forum this year. The ASF starts on 23 January, the date the last dictator fled the country, and also the name of a particularly active barrio popular. I plan to participate, but am sure that my decidely poor spanish will prevent me from fully experiencing what the event has to offer.
Yesterday we took a trip to the beach, spending our time in another local that it was blatently clear that gringo tourists rarely go to. The beach itself was the most polluted I have ever seen, with the bay acting as a de facto garbage can. This was surprising, because Caracas is relatively clean, and I have observed several people cleaning up public sidewalks and such. Anyhow, the locals were enjoying the warm Carribean on a misty 80 degree day, so we followed suit. We were greeted warmly by all those who came up and talked to us, offering us drinks and other kindness. After a romp in the waves, we supped and returned to the bus corral to catch another 3 hour ride through the country. We ended up waiting for more or less 4 hours, then found an opportunistic driver charging 10,000 Bolivars for the ride (about $ 5US). We are about to check into the International Youth Camp and leave the Hotel Waldorf and the comforts that 20,000 Bolivars a night can affort (not that Waldorf).
Expect some media in the near future, as we hope to consumate our press registrations and gain access to higher speed computers reserved for the press people.