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Barrio Adentro with Manuel Rosales

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 20.09.06 | Opposition candidate Manuel Rosales visited Antimano and Caricuao today, two of the poorest barrios of West Caracas. It was a remarkable experience for all the right reasons: only a handful of chavistas were shouting abuse and throwing bottles, rotten tomatoes and stuff but the vast majority of the people were cheerful, welcoming and definitely hopeful about the future. I spent some time talking to a die hard chavista lady who, for the first time in my life, made me feel as a victim of racism in my own country. In spite of being as fair-skinned as I am she commented with scorn "tu eres gringo no? Que coño haces tu aqui?" She was very aggressive although when I asked her about whether her life conditions had improved in the last 8 years, she couldn't tell. To the questions: "are you any safer? Have you got more places to go look for work (she's unemployed)? Are your kids better off?" As I expected she replied negatively, although she feels 'empowered' by a regime that, to her own admission, has failed to improve her lot. The extraordinary thing is that even up in Sector La Represa of Antimano (see picture below) most people keep aspiring for a better future, which they are convinced is not with Chavez. The pictures below tell very graphically the day's story.

The crowd towards Sector La Represa in Antimano. It's quite hard to tell the exact number but a fair guesstimate could be around 1000.

Journalist Del Valle Canelón puts on her bullet-proof vest before starting the walk. This picture is in my opinion very powerful for it demonstrates the conditions under which journalists have to do their jobs in Venezuela.

There was a large group of policemen from the Metropolitan police. Gossip has it that Chavez gave the order to safeguard the integrity and wellbeing of Manuel Rosales, after the attacks that the latter suffered in Catia some days ago. Fortunately they wear helmets for one of the ones very close to us was hit in the head by a bottle thrown from high above.

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