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Chavez's native Barinas welcomes Manuel Rosales

Por Aleksander Boyd

Barinas 24.09.06 | Today's rally in Barinas was something especial. First of all this is the state where Hugo Chavez was born. Second his father is meant to be sitting in the state's highest chair, however locals say that is Argenis Chavez, Hugo's little brother, the one in charge. Chavez's own mother is head of Barinas' Children's Foundation (Fundacion del Niņo). The people have become a nuisance to this new cast. Emilio Ostos said to me that impoverished mothers keep knocking on Mrs. Chavez door for food, subsidies, grants, etc. but are getting the cold shoulder from Hugo's mum. Emilio also said that the Chavez dinasty has become incredibly wealthy and powerful, owning 4 large hatos, other real state assets and businesses. When I asked him whether the situation had improved he replied "bueno mira las calles p'a que veas como hemos mejorado" (we were in Avenida 1š de Diciembre). Initially a Chavez supporter Emilio thought that the latter's election would bring positive things to Barinas -being his native state- but in fact no improvements or benefits have come their way.

We walked together for a while until we bumped into his friend Pascual Vargas. Same drill with Pascual; i.e. me asking "are you better off/safer today than in 1998?" His answer was "ese coņo de su madre es un vendepatria chico, mientras nosotros estamos pelando bola aqui el anda regalando lo que no es de el." Imagine the scene Av. 1š de Diciembre in Barinas and both Pascual and Emilio telling me about Chavez's latest rants in the UN, his deals with Islamofundamentalists and the Cuban dictator... Venezuela's people whether in Araira, Guatire, Antimano, Puerto Cabello or Barinas have had it with Chavez. I'm also asking everywhere I go when was the last time that Chavez walked among them. The answer is, invariably, 1998. The current practice is that he flyes to places around the country to broadcast his dominical charade, the surroundings always cleared so that el pueblo can't touch him, can't criticise him.

Contrastingly Manuel Rosales is visiting barrios for the myth has it that gente de barrio are with Chavez. There's no fear but restlessness: "deje el llano alborotao" quipped opposition candidate Rosales yesterday. Quite frankly I always thought of myself as very irreverent towards chavismo but my fellow countrymen, those who have endured 8 long years of lies and abuses are, understandably, in a league of their own. Chavez's spell has lost all power. The few chavistas that I have encountered can't even tell in what ways their lives have improved.

Another feeling I have gathered is that official propaganda is counterproductive for Chavez. The whole country is covered with it, like a giant billboard. Instead of serving the purpose of enticing people to re-elect him it has upset them for it shows misuse of resources in a country were abject poverty is on the rise. Chavez is so detached that he promotes himself in radio adverts, which are repeated time and again all around the country's network.

In the meanwhile Rosales keeps walking among the poorest, drawing examples from his successful administration in Zulia...

These series of pictures debunk the false claim that only white and very rich people oppose Chavez.

Sad faces all over. This lady said to me "what else is he (Chavez) going to promise? He doesn't care about us, he never did..."

This other lady was very angry, she told the cameraman her full name and ID number after insulting vehemently members of the Chavez dinasty.

"Are you part of any misiones?" asked the reporter. "Yes" said the man on the wheelchair "mision sufrimiento, mision miseria, mision pobreza...

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