News from Caracas...

Julie, a freelance journalist I met in Caracas, just sent this through…

The story so far…

Dear All,

My apologies for sending round one of these here round robins but tis the best i can do in the time…

Well, there is simply TOO MUCH to tell you all about this revolution, but perhaps the most important thing is that it is happening all over the country and is being carried forward not by the officials and bureaucrats but the ordinary people who through a massive effort of will and as an expression of love, conviction and belief are making things happen.

What is also important to recognise is that the many different strands of the revolution are developing at different speeds. By this I mean that a massive amount of work has been done by the people on the ground, which is where I would say this revolution is “living”, while there is a huge amount of inertia being created by the bureaucrats and officials who are not really revolutionary and who often still have a fierce grip on the purse strings.

The continued power of the older layer of bureaucrats is in some places strangling the revolution – some ordinary organisers have been waiting for approval and/or money for their projects from local officials for a number of years now. Their frustration is beginning to bubble over.

But this is not to say that the revolution is not alive and kicking. These ordinary people – many of them women – work for nothing and are doing the work because they genuinely believe in the possibility for changing their world – and ours.

On the other hand, I have also witnessed many examples of where the revolution is working just fine. Speaking to students who have graduated from the adult education programmes, it is clear that the opportunity to study has changed their entire outlook and consciousness. Many of them speak of “coming alive” and developing skills they never thought they would have; their obvious passion and excitement about learning is just like that of Julie Walters the 1983 Willy Russell film “Educating Rita”. I have honestly been moved to tears by the testimonies of these students, many of whom were forced to quit school when they were 14 or 15 because of early marriage or lack of money for food.
Also just today I visited an amazing new medical treatment centre which is packed full of new equipment for xrays, blood tests, eye tests, minor surgery and so on. It is staffed by 6 Cuban doctors, one of whom I spoke to seemed very proud of the work he was carrying out.

More and more the links between Cuba and Venezuela are being strengthened by Chavez and Castro and as well as the sharing of doctors, many Venezuelan students are being sent over to Cuba to learn about all sorts of subjects including psychology, sociology, history and revolutionary poliltics (of course!).

In addition I spent two days this week tagging round a member of the Frente Franscisco de Miranda – which translates as the “social army” of the revolution. These guys are basically the ideological vanguard of the revolution, making sure that each of the missions and cooperatives has guidance and direction. They read Che, Marx and Trotsky, talk urgently of the need for a socialist alternative to neo-liberal hegemony, and are without doubt SERIOUS about keeping this thing going.

However, I am yet to really meet the women organisers who I really want to write about and photograph, although I did visit a women´s cooperative textile factory and left full of admiration for their creativity and hard work. The woman I spoke to who was the head of admin was also a mother of five and had never worked before. Again, she spoke in terms of finding “another world” which was of course great to hear.

Well, there is much much more to tell but my bolivars are running out so will have to leave the rest till later.

Much love to all!

Oh, ah, Chavez no se va!!!!