Jorge Marin: I love Venezuela and that is why I support this revolution!

Jorge Marin writes: The World Social Forum gives progressive organizations a chance to put forward their agendas and to connect with other organizations that are doing similar work. It began in Puerto Alegre in 2001, after the successful demonstrations in Seattle against the G8 group of countries ... it is a venue for progressive organizations to counter-act the neoliberal policies that the G8 countries want to impose on the rest of the world.

As such, the World Social Forum tries to embrace a wide range of organizations, from the extreme left to the more centrist ideology.

Our Boston delegation was made up of different organizations that also encompassed a wide range of ideology from labor to housing to socialists to the Bolivarian Circle. The delegation put together a proposal for organizations throughout the continent to work together via the internet and networking. We had our publication printed in a booklet format and distribute it throughout forum. The proposal was a compilation of many organizations in the Massachusetts area explaining their work and their ideals.

  • The reaction to our proposal was very positive. Some people were impressed of how well we were able to work together, as a group, even though we represented different organizations. You can see our proposals at: http://www.lfsc.org/wsf/

From the beginning, our group planned to stay in the west side of Caracas in order for us to spend our hard earn money on the Chavista side. So we made our reservations at the Lider Hotel in Avenida Baralt. A few days before our departure from Boston, we were informed that the bridge connecting the airport with Caracas would be closed and that an alternate route was available. The trek from the airport to Caracas would be from 2 to 4 hours, instead of the typical 20 minutes. The contingency plans, overall worked well. Even though the bulk of our members arrived to Simon Bolivar airport at 2:00 a.m., they were provided transportation from the airport to their hotel.

Since I have family in Caracas, I decided to stay with them, even though I knew I would have to listen to their constant complains of how badly things are in Venezuela. They sympathize with the opposition and there is no reasoning with them. But in a way, it gave me an opportunity to listen to the other side.

  • After listening for a while, I realized that their rhetoric had not changed much ... innuendos and baseless accusations continue to be their main topics.

Walking through the neighborhood of Altamira (a neighborhood relatively close to the Presidential Residence), I observed something that I thought our revolution would consider one of their top priorities to solve. "Las quebradas de Caracas." I grew up in Caracas, near Avenida Sucre, so I am very familiar with open sewers, but, for some reason, I thought that with the economy doing so well, that somehow our city would show more improvement.

I am being critical here, but I want this to be a constructive criticism.

I understand that the Mayor, Freddy Bernal is looking for people in the community to make proposals and set priorities ... and for the people to participate in the process. But there are things that must be done (even if they are not proposed by the people) to improve the standard of living of its citizens. I remember during a previous administration when a project to cover Las Quebradas in Caracas was started ... but it wasnít completed.

Why canít we do it now?

I will say that I saw Caracas cleaner of trash, although this is relative. In some barrios garbage appears to overflow. The garbage issue in Caracas is an overwhelming problem, with street vendors continually making a mess of the sidewalk, it appears to be a losing battle. The equipment that the Mayorís office recently purchased, to clean the streets, is helping, but I think it is time to lay down new sidewalks.

Walking along Avenida Urdaneta, one can see the same sidewalks that have been there for half a century, or more. Most of the sidewalks around Caracas are old, and no matter how much you clean them, theyíll never look clean. The contamination has permeated the concrete.

I love Venezuela and I want to raise the standard of living of all Venezuelans, that is why I support this revolution.

So letís take care of our city and of the people that reside in her. I know a lot of investment is being done throughout the whole country, that Caracas alone is not Venezuela ... but it is the Capital. Where visitors arrive first, and where first impressions are made.

On the bright side, the Mayorís office organized some tours for our delegation to visit some of the neighborhoods around Caracas. Everyone was impressed with the missions. I had been to similar tours before and I can see how they have evolved; now there are more Barrio Adentro health modules. Initially, the doctors were in family homes.

  • Mercal is now common everywhere and the stores appear to be well stocked.
     
  • The Bolivarian schools are very impressive, all Venezuelans should be proud to have their kids go to the new Bolivarian Schools.

I always considered the primary school in Venezuela better than the ones here in the US, and now with the extended days, even better.

The organizing committee for the WSF had a monumental job in organizing such an event in a congested city like Caracas. I stopped by their office for two minutes a couple of days before the forum began and the atmosphere can best be described as managed chaos. They had to schedule over 2,000 workshops, with translators and audio equipment ... and they had to publish a program right away to inform of the workshops locations.

The different sites, where the workshops were located, turned out to be so far apart and the traffic, or transit system, was so overcrowded that it was an adventure to attend workshops at different locations in the same day.

Our workshop was located at the Carlota airport, right next to the runway. This airport is used for small private and military planes. However, the area had all the necessary amenities. We had done outreach the day before in order to get people to attend, since the airport was not an easy location to get to. All in all, our workshop went well with the few people that attended. We had some participation from the public, for instance; how the museums make their space available to the public in Venezuela now, and that is something we took back with us.

  • On the 28th , our delegation held a demonstration in Plaza Bolivar and our small group quadrupled in size quickly, and the locals decided to join in with solidarity statements and songs. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

We were able to enjoy the outdoor concerts and the exhibitions. The exhibitions along Avenida Bolivar showed what each ministry from the government is working on. Special mention should go to the Cuban tent, the amount of social work that the Cubans are doing around the world is very impressive. In Venezuela, Mision Barrio Adentro and Mision Milagro, is probably the best thing, ever, in Venezuela.

All Venezuelans should be forever grateful to our Cuban brothers.

In conclusion, the WSF in Caracas was a success for those participants that wanted to see the Venezuelan revolution up close. For those that wanted to reach out to other organizations, and/or to have their own proposals heard widely, it was difficult, if not, impossible to do. There were too many workshops, and many had similar material to cover.

So I would recommend for the next WSF, that organizations look for alliances with similar organizations prior to setting up an independent workshop.

Collaboration will help networking among similar organizations, allowing each to learn from the other ... and doing outreach becomes easier with more people to help for the same cause.

Originally published at: www.vheadline.com

Jorge Marin
cbmlkboston @ hotmail.com
CB-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Boston, MA