We have just arrived back at the flat in La Candelaria, Caracas, after a short walk through the area resulted in taking cover from a downpour under a tree. On television, the President of the country is addressing a crowd of thousands, a band is playing music and everyone is dancing, and now we are hearing words from the Venezuelan Olympic team. A young, female boxer takes one of the microphones, and she is encouraging people to vote. “On October 7th, we are with Chavez!”
Minutes later, her and the President are embracing on the platform, and the band have started performing again. The boxer steps back and takes a few mock jabs, and Hugo throws up his hands and shuffles, and then she is introduced to Maria Gabriela, Chavez’ daughter. Coming from a country where the only government official to attend the Paralympics, Gideon ‘George’ Osbourne, was ceremoniously booed by the crowd, the difference is striking.
It was difficult to find written reports of the event I was watching last night, which I later found out to be Chavez’ meeting with the country’s youth at the Poliedro de Caracas, a huge, indoor sporting arena. Perhaps that is because such events are not wholly unusual in Venezuela, and surely that is how it should be? When we vote for politicians at elections, they are supposed not only to represent us, but to hear our changing views and to engage with the people.
We will have to wait and see who the Venezuelan public vote for on October 7th.