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Yo me quedo en Venezuela porque yo soy optimista!!

By Reinaldo Rolo

London [04.01.04] I have just returned from a long awaited trip to Venezuela. I was not sure what I was going to find, but judging from the news reports, I was expecting to find a country in tatters, with sad, resentful and violent people on the streets.

I was rather surprised to see the opposite. Maybe it was the Christmas festivities and the enjoyment and celebrations that come with it, which were enhanced this time around by the lack of such happiness the previous year. Maybe it was something else.

People are fed up and optimistic; fed up with the bad news and constant bombardment of political propaganda and nonsensical discussions. Many have stopped reading newspapers altogether, leaving this once-upon-a-time daily activity, to Sundays alone. Optimistic because most take the referendum for granted, and even though three point something million signatures of the "Reafirmazo" appear relatively few, people are confident that since votes for referenda are secret, twice as many people will vote against the Miraflores captor this year.

International investors and credit agencies tend to agree that Venezuela will grow in 2004. Venezuela's remaining capital holders seem to be ready to start investing as soon as the dark political clouds start fading away. Many young professionals that for one reason or another find themselves currently living abroad, have their suitcases packed and with Venezuela written on their destination labels. The opportunities for growth in our beautiful country are endless, for absolutely everyone.

The message and the mood are clear. Should Chavez be recalled sometime in 2004, the country will take an immense leap that will benefit those who are prepared, ready and willing.

However, countless problems still crop out. We will make reference to these some other time, but the clearest ones are the reliance on disastrous political dinosaurs and the attitude of -still many- of our countrymen. We must understand that the rebuilding of Venezuela cannot rely on a single saviour or messiah. It will take everyone's effort and sacrifice. Venezuelans now understand the power of organisation and teamwork; let us hope that this knowledge is used wisely.

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