there is one thing i´d like to add. about lebanon and venezuela. en route to caracas, naturally, i met a group of lebanese who live in venezuela, and we started talking about the situation here. they were friendly, warm, quite hospitable…and against the current venezuelan government and chavez in particular. not surprising. they are merchants, and they spoke and negatively about the economic situation. they said that the poverty level has not changed, but that their own situation as merchants (´tujar´) has gotten more difficult. they said that chavez is a crazy man who is acting out of vengeance since he was arrested after his attempted military coup. a crazy man who doesn´t care about destroying his own house.
i asked the rep from the ministry of foreign affairs who greeted us at the airport about support for chavez, and if it has extended beyond the lower economic classes. he said no. support for chavez and the government is limited to all the lower economic class and some of the middle economic classes. the merchants, he said, are not with the government.
not surprising, really.
he also said that one of the main problems is that the vast majority of the tv channels (and there are 86 or so) are against the government, and so it makes it a lot easier to distribute and propagate certain news.
then he spoke at length about all the social achievements the government has done. according to UNESCO, venezuela now has a zero percent illiteracy rate. poverty rate is halved ‘ from 40 to 20. when discussing the security situation (since the first comment anyone out of venezuela makes to a traveler here is ´watch your purse´), he said that yes, the security situation is bad, but it is better than it was, and the government believes in tackling the root of the problem and thus has been focusing on social development programs.
(Imagine if a US politician spoke like that ” let´s tackle the root of the problem in crime, rather than build more privatized jails-prisons and increase the sentencing and broaden the criminizalizations)
I find myself constantly imagining if only this belief in the possibility ‘ and the right ‘ for a better future for all, a fair economic system, a representative and participatory democracy, a holistic attitude towards social problems, if only this belief were found everywhere. and how it could be.