Notes From Venezuela

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Most of today our delegation was getting to and then attending the rally and the speech by Maduro at the end of the march. Our visit coincided with the conference about housing, so we “internationals” were taken to bleachers set up very close to the main stage. They did not want us to actually march because they are being super cautious about us not getting into any problems that could be used who knows who, the US government or the corporate media.

Thus I have little to report about the competing marches, except hearsay. William went to Altamira where they did not march, just made speeches. Guaido was not there. Just 3000 people, a very weak showing. William had no figures, but Chavistas turned out far, far more people he said.

Guaido’s tricks have made him look like an incompetent fool, even to his own people, but no one expects the USA to back off. What will they do next?

The determination and spirit of the people today made it clear that they won’t give in. Maduro spoke a lot about rectification and lessons learned, but the sound system was literally deafening from our seats and it was impossible for me to understand in Spanish or to hear the translation in the earphones. I will try to find the text of his remarks.

We have been treated like celebrities by everyone. This in contrast to what happened when William went to Altamira along with a journalist working with a Japanese TV crew. The Altamira crowd made nasty comments about them because they thought they were Chinese, i.e.,. friendly toward Maduro. There really are two different Venezuelas.

A personal note: There was a very long musical program while we waited for marchers to get to us and Maduro to speak. There were many songs by Ali Primera, and since I am familiar with most of them I kept tearing up, they express so well the class consciousness of these brave people, their compassion, bravery, pride in their revolutionary tradition, their often expressed determination never to accept the old system that treated them as though they were less than human. Ali Primera had a big role in creating that consciousness, and his picture is on murals all over the city (except Altamira) along with Bolivar and Chavez.

Peter Lackowski is a retired Vermont school teacher who has been visiting and writing about Latin America, including Bolivia, since 2004. See his CounterPunch report from Venezuela this May.