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Nov. 30th, 2007 | 08:46 pm
location: not at my very own mac >(

This is definitely the most important question facing Venezuelan@s right now. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I mean there is a constitutional referendum on the table. The people will rise as early as 3am on Sunday morning to walk down to their local polling center, and wait in for hours to exercise their right to vote not just for politicians that will hopefully represent them, but on possible additions to their Constitution. It's been difficult to find a balanced website that has the complete text of the reforms online in English, but this one has each article as it appeared in the last constitutional reform in 1999, and the proposed amendments:

http://constitutional-reform-venezuela.blogspot.com/2007/09/original-and-modified-text-of.html
This site is biased against the reforms, and explains (to me in very reactionary language) why they think each one is regressive.


I don't know much about what people outside of this country are learning about this process, but if what I am seeing in the online English-speaking press is any indication, about 80% is incorrect, and about 80% of that 80% are straight up lies. Meaning this is a lies and damn lies situation.

The coverage from here is pretty balanced actually, if one bothers to use the remote control. There is an explicitly government news station, and an explicitly opposition party news station.* It is the same situation with the newspapers. The problem is actually the internet. Venezuelans that support the Bolivarian Revolution tend to be poorer than people in the opposition. So the vast majority of the voices you see online are anti-Chavez and anti the direction of the country. This is a problem, something I'll be posting about next time.

Anyway, you've probably seen a lot of anti-government protests on television. You probably read a story about a 100,000-strong demonstration that happened in Caracas yesterday. The article probably included a lot of details about exactly what is wrong with the reform, repeated that Venezuela is headed for a communist dictatorship, and predicted that there must be close international monitoring of this vote. The article most likely did not say what people who are for the reform think. On television, you saw a vast sea of people from all walks of life. Today, there is a small chance you read about pro-reform demonstration that also took place today, with a turn-out in the tens of thousands. Most of the article discussed what opposition activists think. All you saw on tv from today was Chavez's speech if my instincts serve me.

Well guess what? I live here. I WENT LOOKING for the opposition protest yesterday. I wanted to go and see what it was like, how many people would show up, and listen to what they had to say about why people should vote "No." BUT I COULDN"T FIND IT. I'm not saying it didn't happen. It did happen. But the press is trying to make it seem like the only kinds of demonstrations of significance that happen here are anti-government and anti the reform. Today, you could not be in downtown Caracas and not know that there was a "Sí" rally, not know "how to get there" because it was everywhere. It spilled off of the main avenue onto several side streets where most people were wearing red clothing (the pro-Chavez color) and packed in so closely that cars got stuck trying to get through. It was packed with people for more blocks than I could count. It was huge...and underreported and misreported.

I didn't believe how biased the reporting is in the US about Venezuela until I came here and saw these things for myself. As conscious and media-skeptical as I am, I was sucked in by some of the lies myself before I came. It's truly incredible how far these media corporations will go to twist the truth to please their own interests. If there were 100,000 people at the opposition rally, I'm Queen Elizabeth. If there were only 100,000 people at the pro-Chavez rally today, I'm Darth Vader.

The past 2 days are only one example of this. But we saw this before in 2002 when the US media tried to portray the coup of a democratically elected president by a small group of (white) elites as a restoration of democracy. They put their feet in their mouths when the poor people of Venezuela shut the whole country down until the President they elected was back. We see this over and over again. Seriously people, I'm done with the news. I'm done.

I'm not writing this because I'm 100% behind Chavez. I'm not writing this because I'm 100% behind all of the reforms: I am NOT. Unlike a lot of people with cheap opinions I've actually read them all. (In fact, I received a free copy of the reform text on the second day I was in the country. All I had to do was exit a subway station; someone is passing them out everyday. Don't believe the "polls" saying that people are uninformed.) I'm writing this because the people of Venezuela are behind what is happening here; even if you don't like Chavez, at least support what the people here clearly want. At the "Sí" rally, the people I talked to said that whether someone is voting sí or no, they encourage everyone to go and vote because it is their right.

A little story: I have a BIG computer problem right now that I won't go into. But I had to go to the rich eastern area of Caracas ("No"-land) to look for a specific part. There was a mall there with several electronics stores. I thought, "whatever, a mall." Especially since I spend most of my time in the west of the city, where many people live in pretty dangerous housing (ex:lots of victims of mudslides here) I wasn't prepared for this mall. Chicago people, think Oakbrook or Water Tower. Except there are 6 (SIX) full perfumed floors, with stores like Armani Exchange. And a Cinnabon and Church's Chicken sitting next to each other in the food court. And who did I find at this mall? People went from the opposition rally straight to the mall to SHOP...at American stores, or at stores selling overpriced imported products. Huh? Okay, I get it. I guess they're afraid that if the reform passes, the Ipods (which, by the way, are 2x more expensive here) will leave the country. No, seriously. This one dude had his "VOTA NO" flag with him in the mall.

Before that, I was really giving the opposition the benefit of the doubt for being more complex than being mostly rich folks. Ask my friends here who I was debating with. But after that...I'm kind of eating my words.*

Bottom line: I have some definite criticisms of the reforms, but I support the people of Venezuela, and the current Administration definitely seems to be empowering them. And honestly, whatever I feel about Chavez, if the opposition got back in power, a comparison is that it'd be worse than bringing back Ronald Reagan. Don't believe me? Read up on the history of Venezuela and tell me this country was better before 1999. Let's debate. And if you think it was better, tell me who it was better for.

To balance out the link I posted above, here is a pro-Chavez link explaining the logic and history of the constitutional reforms. it also provides excellent background, definitely check it out: http://dilated_rebel.gnn.tv/blogs/25909/A_must_read_on_Venezuela_s_Constitutional_reforms_in

*edited on Dec. 2nd to add: I realized that this paragraph makes Venezuelan tv seem more balanced than it actually is. There are actually several news channels here, but the ones I know of that provide coverage in support of the current administration are the government-owned stations.

*another Dec. 2nd edit: I was at it again today. Another person living in the US (but that lived in Jamaica most of his life) was ranting about the vapid and reactionary reasons why the middle classes will tend to vote no, and that he was really interested to know why on earth some poor people who will vote no are thinking. I told him about my friend, a young man from a poor area, who said that he was going to vote no today. I thought that he had very valid points. I was going to state them here, but I realized that I didn't give a complete breakdown of reasons why people are voting yes. Because there is so much coverage for the voices of people like my friend, I'm choosing not to. But the point is, not everyone who voted no today were the elite who are seeking to hold on to their position.

Palabras del dia:
hervir = to boil
agredar = to add (ie - agreda mas agua a la sopa)
la broma = the joke
la ola = the wave

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Comments {7}

sorting and sifting

(no subject)

from: unscrambled
date: Dec. 1st, 2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for posting about the elections, hbsoul. Good reporting about the rest of the world in English is really hard to come by. Actually, good reporting in English about what's happening in the US is hard to come by. That's a grim statement.

My other wondering about these elections is how much mucking about in them is happening via other people's governments, the US in particular. That stuff only comes out way after things go down, of course.

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The richest girl in town.

(no subject)

from: fightingwords
date: Dec. 1st, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for this. Would you mind posting it or allowing me to link to it in a couple communities like debunkingwhite and sex_and_race?

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martine

(no subject)

from: hbsoul
date: Dec. 2nd, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
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hey there. i appreciated the feedback. it's ok to repost in sexandrace, but i'm not familiar with debunkingwhite. this is a public journal, but i'm not a "blogger" and i don't want a bunch of political spam, nahmean? let me check out debunkingwhite first. thanks.

also, i need to edit something.

what's "no me jodas"?

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The richest girl in town.

(no subject)

from: fightingwords
date: Dec. 3rd, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
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And "no me jodas" means don't fuck with me.

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martine

(no subject)

from: hbsoul
date: Dec. 2nd, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
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cant find debunkingwhite. can you reply with a link?

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The richest girl in town.

(no subject)

from: fightingwords
date: Dec. 3rd, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
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It's debunkingwhite, as in debunking white privilege.

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martine

(no subject)

from: hbsoul
date: Dec. 5th, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
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ok, it looks fine. thanks again for the love

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