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Venezuela's people are sick of Chavez

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 21.09.06 | Whilst Hugo Chavez makes an ass of himself at the UN, his constituents back home, i.e. those who will decide whether he gets to enjoy that UN seat or not, aren't so enthusiastic about the idea, much less on the spending spree that has led to it. Someone who knows a thing or two about the UN -Ambassador Diego Arria- commented yesterday on the radio that Venezuela has been granted that seat 4 times in the past. The fundamental difference between then and now is the international standing that Venezuela enjoyed then and now, which in reality means that never our country had to buy its way into it. But the interesting aspect is the reaction of regular folks that do not feel related to Chavez's crazed ideas.

Yesterday we went to Araira, Guatire and Guarenas, the last two being satellite cities of Caracas, where opposition candidate Manuel Rosales keeps being asked how he will solve local issues that affect everyday lives. The message that regular Venezuelans are sneding is deafening "we do not care about international grandstanding, alliances with "bichos raros" (as they refer to Chavez's Islamofundamentalists and authoritarian buddies) or any of that crap while there are no jobs, no security, while our kids are decimated by criminals who are now, more than ever before, untouchable." "Los malandros estan con el gobierno pues" said to me Antonio Perez in Guatire. Gladis Peņa in Araira on the other hand complained about the absolute indifference of the Chavez government. "La crecida vino y se llevo todo eso y todavia estamos esperando que el gobierno resuelva" she said bitterly. Powerful stuff.

Another surprise, for me at least, is that outside Caracas' barrios -where the official hatred discourse has convinced some that even if they aren't better off they're now part of something which can't be described- people are much more relaxed, friendly and frank about their politics. I had a very good conversation yesterday with a chavista called Marcos Nuņez. He gave me his name and treated me as I am accustomed to be treated by fellow countrymen. The fear factor is ever present in conversations, which is odd in a country that has a characteristic irreverent attitude about life.

This election will be decided on local issues and the more I go around the greater the conviction that Chavez is in for a surprise. As Antonio said "este pueblo se canso de los abusos y la irresponsabilidad de Chavez."

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