was an extraordinary name for someone in Caracas,
I thought, but he was one of the most extraordinary
people I have met here.
is homeless and wanders through the dangerous streets
at night looking for things that he may be able
to sell or eat in the rubbish that many of the wealthy
throw out. My host James introduced me to him one
evening on the way home as his mate.
turned out he was a member of the Venezuelan Communist
Party in his younger days and was commissioned by
his party to go to engineering school in Holland
in the eighties. A familiar tale of a beautiful
young woman anchoring his heart in Caracas was told
to me as well as tales of harder times that neither
his sweetheart nor home survived.
never asked for any money but my conscience felt
compelled to offer him some cash to buy himself
some food or a beer that evening. He accepted in
a dignified manner and thanked me sincerely for
it. He shook my hand and thanked me not only for
the money, but also for making the leap. I enquired
what he meant.
made a leap forward," he replied. "Brother,
you're a socialist like me and you know that all
the people of this world belong to a common brotherhood.
We are all the same and should all stand together
and look after on another. Some of the people who
live around here won't even look at me, and when
they do its to tell me to leave their rubbish alone.
They won't make a step forward let alone the leap
that you have made in stopping here and talking
to me for a little while. But you and James are
good people and you've been taking little leaps
forward all of your life. Keep taking those little
leaps forward and when others see you do it they'll
get the confidence to make the leaps too."
street philosophy made a big impact on me. So much,
that I gave him my little notebook and pen so that
he could write some of his philosophies down and
begin his book and spread his word.
word should not have to travel far to make an impact.
During his short time in power President Hugo Chavez
has allowed the poor in Venezuela to make huge leaps
forward with his social programmes and redistribution
of the countries vast oil revenue. Unfortunately,
a bureaucratic layer of counter-revolutionaries
and parasites remain who are hindering the progress
of the people's revolutionary awakening.
state run television channel is in European terms
incredibly radical, with frank analysis on international
political affairs and documentaries on the life
of Che Guevara etc. It was this channel that I first
noticed something within the MVR that I did not
like. Advertisements promoting electoral politicians
posing with red berets in the presence of Chavez
made me suspicious of them. There was something
that smacked a little too much of personality cult
in all of this...too much wanting to be seen with
Chavez and claiming to be the really true Chavistas.
One of the Mayors of Caracas, Barreto is someone
whom I find a little odious, despite my short stay
appears that Barreto reads the revolutionary process
differently from those whom he claims to represent
as a "really true" Chavista.
Juan Alberdi School was annexed by the people of
the community when middle class teachers in this
working class school walked out during the failed
lock-out. The people of Manicomio organised a committee
to run the school with every position democratically
elected. They worked 15-hour a day in renovating
and running the school to provide the children and
adults of the area with a decent education. It was
a marvellous community effort and perhaps one of
the most advanced components of the Bolivarian struggle.
Barreto it appeared took a dislike to this community
self-sufficiency that threatened the need for the
bureaucracy that sustained his employment and raised
position in Venezuelan society. He unilaterally
sacked the democratically elected directorship of
the school and imposed his own people from outside
of the schools area with the precondition that the
teachers collective be allowed to remain within
the school and teach
the last few days he has reneged on this agreement.
The teachers collective have received four days
notice that they are to leave the school. I sat
during their meeting and watched them discuss this
betrayal and their response to it in their typically
democratic fashion. It was a passionate meeting
with heated debate and sometimes tears from the
majority female teachers. However, these tears were
not tears that showed weakness, they only served
to portray the deep anger at all of their hard work
in the school and the revolution being stripped
away from them with not as much as a thank you.
I shared their anger.
move by Barreto is simply to reassert the strength
of bureaucracy in the affairs of the people in their
own communities. It is a step backwards in the movement
for revolutionary progress. False leaders like Barreto
exist all over the world and have done so for a
long, long time.
Chavez would be better advised to listen to the
words from the people on the streets of Caracas,
the working class, for they are the true inheritors
and vehicle for the revolution. He should listen
to the wise words of Wolfgang and make the leap
over this bureaucracy and distance himself from
these artificial idols.
fight for the School Alberdi is not over, however,
the greater the oppression the greater the fight.
As I write, the teachers collective are at the Mayor's
office to make their case to him face to face, whether
he likes it or not.
would also be advised to heed the words of Wolfgang.
His parting shot the other night made me laugh and
raise my fist to this great man.
because you may be bigger than your neighbour, don't
dare try and stamp on him. You may stamp him down
again and again... but be careful. The next time
you bring your foot down he may be holding up a