Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Culture is Alive and Well in Venezuela
Ever heard of a Corporeal Arts Festival sponsored by a government? Well, there's one happening right now in all 23 states of Venezuela, with tattoo artists, body painting, corporeal modifications (like really intense piercings), photography, video installations and other artistic manifestations of the body and its many uses and expressions. The III Annual World Conference of Corporeal Art is being held once again in Venezuela from September 7-16, and there are some really cool and freaky looking people all over the place. All kinds of body artists are participating from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Spain, United States, Guatemala, Holland, Italy, México, Nicaragua, República Dominicana, Uruguay and Venezuela. Heavily tattooed and bizarre-ly painted bodies are doing street theater and performance art in metro stations and around the bustling avenues of Caracas, and it's pretty freakin' awesome. The cultural revolution has arrived!!
Yesterday the National Assembly approved the titles and chapters of the 33 articles presented by President Chávez in his proposal for Constitutional Reform. This was no surprise at all since obviously we knew the legislature would approve the proposal. The next and final debate should take place in October and hopefully will be much more in depth (taking more than a day, for example), and should incorporate many of the changes and suggestions being made throughout the nation in the public debates. Even the opposition is now involved, which is a good sign, as long as they adhere to the rules and don't try to undermine and destabilize the process. Opposition leader and ex-presidential candidate Manuel Rosales (el filósofo de Zulia) called for a publicized debate with political leaders nationwide on the reform. I don't know if that is quite necessary - he wants it on national television by decree (it would be covered anyway by all media I am sure), but at least it is a positive indication that the opposition wants to participate in the political process again!! Remember, they boycotted the parlimentary elections in December 2005, which is why they have no presence in the National Assembly today. It's their own fault and they actually readily admit that now.
Of course, not all opposition leaders are so reconciliatory. Others are still psycho and calling for the overthrow of Chávez or international intervention. But we have become accustomed to that as part of everyday life here in Venezuela. We get to make fun of them on La Hojilla (a nightly television show that exposes the opposition's madness) and generally watch them go through the entire process of putting their feet in their mouths.
!!!!!ALERT!!!! This just in: The new figures for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funding in Venezuela during fiscal year 2006-2007 are in. More than $2,335,460 of US taxpayer dollars are funding approximately 20 groups in Venezuela to undermine the Bolivarian Revolution. In the next post I'll detail who these groups are and what they are doing will those millions of dollars!!
But here's an example of a new one, just for fun:
"Asociación Ser en el 2000 (2000 Association) (SER)
To promote the capacity of civilians in the area of security and defense. SER will continue the research and training activities of its regional network of NGOs, academics, and state institutions in Latin America working in the field of civil-military relations, defense, and security. SER and the regional network will produce case studies of the defense budgeting process in Venezuela, Paraguay, Mexico, and the congressional defense committees in the Andean Region."
Does that really say "promote the capacity of civilians in the area of security and defense"?? Is that like building a Blackwater force in Latin America, but with the happy NED "promoting democracy" face??