From the Venezuelan Andes
Thursday 30, October 2003, from a cyber cafe in Merida
A surprise business trip to Merida, in the heart of Venezuelan Andes gives me the opportunity to test the feeling from a region that has been particularly affected by the Chavez administration.
The three taxi drivers I had today were ALL ardently anti-Chavez. When Chavez was elected first, taxi drivers were one of the work groups that were reputedly the most pro Chavez. But times work wonders.
One of the cab drivers reminded me how the election of Merida State governor was particularly deceitful. Indeed, in 2000 of all the questionable elections the one from the Merida State was the biggest "cause celebre" as very precise evidence of electoral fraud was presented and the courts buried deep the cases, which 3 years after have still not been settled!!!! According to the cabbie, people have not forgotten that fraud, even if they did not vote for the injured party.
Apparently, Merida the biggest campus town in Venezuela, has failed to go "left Chavez". It is still a leftist town, I suppose, but it has smelled the authoritarian in sheep's clothing. From what I have gathered in a single day, if we manage to have a recall election, Chavez is in big trouble in Merida. Of course there is the rest of the state but as far as I know I do not recall any big improvement as Chavez has punished Merida since he justifiably doubts its "loyalty" to the revolution.
Meanwhile I am enjoying the mountain sights, further uplifted by so many kindred spirits around me. And I crowned the evening by having ice cream at a "Guinness record" ice cream parlor. It was featured in the Lonely Planet Series show on Venezuela as the place with the largest number of flavors, including sea food, spaghetti and cheese. I was conservative, I took one cinnamon, one sweet corn and one date small scoops. Yummy!
I wonder if I'd dare try calamari ice cream tomorrow night...
PS: it seems that the latest video has floundered even faster than the first "proof" of CIA covert activities. But I am happy tonight, so I am not going to bother checking the data from a cyber cafe. However, I can assure you one thing, of the dozen of so people I talk today not a single one discussed the CIA actions.
PS2: From a well know craftsman today I got myself a ceramic button with the Venezuelan flag and a big SI on it, meaning "yes to the recall election". The Lady that makes them told me that since she is making and wearing the buttons she got only twice someone making a disparaging comment. Let's see how this works out in San Felipe next week.