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Venezuela: Rosales campaign continues in full force

By Aleksander Boyd

Zea 29.09.06 | “Sea como sea lo mejor esta en Zea” with this word play opposition candidate Manuel Rosales started his speech at around 8:25pm in this town in Merida state. The day started with an impressive rally in the university city of Merida in the Venezuelan Andes. A student the from the faculty of engineering, Mary Luz Contreras, said to me that the turnout was due to the unfair way in which the Chavez regime has prosecuted student leader Nixon Moreno, who had to go into hidind after high officials wrongly implicated him with violent protest. At one point some trouble makers threw tear gas at an otherwise peaceful march, but we did continue till the end without much ado. Rosales touched upon critical issues here. He said that universities are to regain full independence and autonomy, adding that his government will see that politics are to be left out from the administration and allocation of funds destined to the education sytem. Understandably the crowd was extatic.

From Merida we went to Ejido, Lagunillas, Santa Cruz de Mora, Tovar, Bailadores and just finished in Zea. Considerable crowds showed up in each of the towns visited. Residents of this corridor of towns along the Mocoties valley have seen lots of political propaganda and little benefits. Julio Vielma expressed his utter disgus when I asked him what had the government done after the tragic events in February 2005 when a great deal of people lost lives and livelihoods alter heavy rainfalls caused the river to destroy everything in its pass. Humanitarian help collected by the Church was repacked in īBolivarian revolutionī bags, which according to Doņa Teresa, Julioīs wife, was the lowest the Chavez regime could get. There are huge propaganda billborads in every single construction site, all adorned with the caudilloīs face. In some sites there are two of them. But the locals arenīt impressed especially in Santa Cruz de Mora. “Pura paja, pura propaganda y nada que terminan las obras” in spite of record high oil prices. The roads are in bad shape, which for an agricultural area such as this one, is an added problem.

But where Rosales is proving effective is in talking about local relevant issues. Yesterday he visited Sabana de Mendoza, Arapuey, Arenales, Tucani and El Vigia along the Panamericana road. There he connected with people by addressing the huge unemployment levels and the total abandonement suffered throughout the years from the central government. One of the problems of the area is the fact that most of the youth moves to big cities, which has a negative impact in the productive sector. He promised to create high education centres so that people can acquire skills in technical and agricultural areas.

Rosales is covering a lot of ground by visiting anywhere between 2 and 5 different places per day. The reason for this is to deliver his message personally, something that the incumbent stopped doing nearly 8 years ago, as many people relay to me when asked when was the last time Chavez had visited them. Itīs also having an incredible impact within official ranks that for the first time in many years are not setting the agenda, rather it has gone from a position of constant attack to a defensive, reactionary one. Rosalesīs walkabouts are an unexpected show of force for as a journalist in Tovar said to me today, it just shows that many people in many places are just fed up with the deceitful, wasteful, fascist and uttery corrupt nature of the Chavez regime.

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