So today I had another opportunity to get a skewed sampling of Venezuelan opinions on Merida´s cable car, the highest and longest in the world. In one of the stations on the way up, Charletta and I struck up a conversation with an professor of computation (accountancy?) and her husband an economics professor. Not surprisingly, they don´t like Chavez. They described his government as violent and polarizing and they said that freedom of press is gradually being eroded and they are worried for the future of democracy in Venezuela. When we asked about all the projects that Chavez is doing to help people (more on this in a later post), she said that they were good ideas, but badly executed and claimed that they were so corrupt that very little of the money actually helped people.
All this was quite interesting, but then some warning lights went off for me when I shared about working in Colombia and they said “Oh, they have a much better government over there”. For those of you who haven’t been following Colombian politics, the country is currently governed by Álvaro Uribe who has promised to end the civil war by beating the guerillas militarily. While I was there working with CPT last year there was a massacre in the peace community of San Jose de Apartado that was likely carried out by the Colombian military. In response, Uribe accused the community of collaborating with the guerillas. Nuff said.
One of the direct observations I’ve made so far on the media questions has been watching news on Telesur, the new South American broadcast network Venezuela has set up to rival CNN en Espanol and Univision. Its advisory board includes Tariq Ali and Danny Glover. From what I’ve seen of it so far, it does a good job of giving an alternative view of history by covering anniversaries. Yesterday, for example it did a piece on the 30th anniversary of La Noche de los Lápices when the military dictatorship in Argentina disappeared a number of young students. On the other hand on some news stories it takes the Venezuelan government´s line without really interviewing anyone. The anchor just tells the audience what´s right. Call me a traditionalist, but even if they’re very very sure, I’d rather the news anchor interviews someone else rather then just telling us themselves.
I had one other conversation about Chavez on the cable car. I asked an eleven year old boy who I was chatting with what his family thought of Chavez. He said that there were good things and bad things. You can’t go wrong with political analysis like that.
Finally, if you are interested in what I´ve been up to besides politics I´ve posted an entry over on shoup.