Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sunday at the Polo game, while candidate John Kerry takes a stand on Venezuela

Sunday, March 21 2004

I needed a break today and a friend suggested attending a polo game. I had never attended a polo game, you know the one that Prince Charles is supposed to be good at, that game where men run after a small ball trying to hit it with a long stick while riding a horse at break neck speed. Not that I could ever even afford to play polo, but I was intrigued. It was a different experience all right.

The game was in a mountainous wealthy rural area which has now been totally surrounded by the Caracas Metropolitan area. Indeed, it is quite a luxury to hold such a flat field of probably incredible real estate value. Although anyone could get in, clearly the attendance was upper-upper class, with even a couple of "nannies" taken along to take care of young kids. We had lunch at the club house terrace overlooking the field and the game started while our entrees arrived. It would have been hard to have a more gentrified Sunday lunch. It was really quite something to watch the polo players, and their beautiful horses in action.

It was certainly a throwback to more "gentile" times. White rich folks playing polo while not so white folks were serving lunch. But as usual in Venezuela, there is more than what meets the eye. To begin with, anyone could go to the club house and sit down for lunch. No membership required, though you need to be able to afford a rather pricey lunch. What caught my attention is that since it is polo season, the small crowd seemed to be regulars and most in jeans, very casual. Many seemed to know the waiters and were in friendly terms with them, reminding me that in spite of class differences Venezuelans can always communicate at the basic level, something that is not true in other countries. The installations were a little bit run down in areas, showing that even rich people do not have the resources that they once did. In other words, even that world is changing, and I guess that the change started before Chavez. Quite an interesting glimpse of a vanishing? changing? Venezuela. And curiously a strange sense of being subversive just by being there enjoying the moment.

Coming back at home, no big news, except for a John Kerry declaration on Venezuela. Chavez lately had started playing the Kerry card just by attacking Bush and wishing that he loses the November election. But Chavez was probably under the delusion of favorable liberal views towards "his revolution" propagated by the New York Times who claims to be the Liberal beacon. Readers of this blog, liberals or not, know better than trusting the New York Times. Just a portion of Kerry's statment:

The referendum has given the people of Venezuela the opportunity to express their views on his presidency through constitutionally legitimate means. The international community cannot allow President Chavez to subvert this process, as he has attempted to do thus far. He must be pressured to comply with the agreements he made with the OAS and the Carter Center to allow the referendum to proceed, respect the exercise of free expression, and release political prisoners.

It seems that Kerry is very well informed. If Chavez has no friend left in the outgoing administration, he should not think for a moment that he will get friends in November.

By the way, I bet that more Republicans play polo than Democrats, but they all seem to agree on Chavez.

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