“We’re tired…”

Wow, talking about a
field trip just get a form, to elect the spokesperson for my youth team
(that corresponds to my branch of the PSUV).

I had to go to the ‘sala
situacional' – kinda like a logistics centre, which has lists of all
the branches, spokespeople, circumscriptions (group of 10 branches)
etc. That was a bus trip away and I couldn't work out which bus to get.
Finally I got there, and normally what most people would have to do is
go there with the spokesperson from their branch, sign, and they get
their form with spaces for all the people who were present at the
election and guidelines about holding the elections. However, my
spokesperson was sick, and as it turned out I knew the guy working
there, and someone else had already collected the forms for my

Fine, so I rang them, ‘x has them now', I ring x, ‘y has them now' etc. (there
are arguments for and against such bureaucracy- against being that it
makes it real hard for people to actually elect their spokesperson,
especially people from the outskirts of Merida, but for being that it
also makes it hard for people to just fake a list and get themselves
nominated artificially).

It didn't matter in the end
because we didn't get the 10 people we needed. Of all the people I
rang, just 1 person came, then there was the other guy, C, who'd also
rung some people, and a mate of the spokesperson- who was previously in
branch 3, but has been excluded from that branch (like not told when
meetings are etc) because he has declared he wont vote for the PSUV
candidate (the one most people are against, but who most people have
decided they have to vote for because to not do so is to let the
opposition win).

So the 4 of us and the
spokesperson met in the house of the dude who's been excluded- sitting
on his bed and leaning against the stove- and we nutted out a better
plan to build the first meeting of the youth of our branch. We're going
to show a film, have discussion, have traditional Venezuelan food, and
build it going house to house, because its hard to motivate stuff in a
short phone conversation.  We're going to start doing that tonight, which should be interesting, I've never done anything like it. 

Saturday at 3 was the
circumscription meeting – where all (8) representatives from the 10
branches meet. Ours is in INMECA, the government printing company,
which has a big meeting room in it, and a garden behind full of banana,
orange, and pomegranate trees.About
30 people turned up (out of 80), and the delegate raced through various
issues- the youth teams, 13 September ‘one day of wage' day- to raise
money for the PSUV election campaign, and then ages was spent on
division of labour, switching people around the various commissions (of
things like propaganda, security, electoral, logistics, mobilisation
etc) and organising the voting patrols.(The patrols are the Chavistas' ingenious vote-winning strategy, where each person commits to get 12 other people to vote).

At the end, time is
allotted to ‘discussion'- mostly people got up and talked about the
need for unity, (given all the divisions there are right now in the
party- something that is normal, but also a barrier) and a new image
for Carlos Leon, and a guy from my branch said that propaganda is
needed to explain the 26 laws. 

Honestly, I felt
frustrated. I realise the importance of the upcoming elections- we
really can't let the opposition win, they'll only use it to destabilise
the revolution- but I also think the PSUV has got to be about more than
that, it can't fall into just electoralism.  But when the level of consciousness is so low, voting seems to be the easiest thing.

Still, I think raising
consciousness is one of the main roles of the branches, (that and
information dispersing etc), as there is little practical to be done in
a branch that covers just 6 by 4 blocks (and the practical stuff is
done more at the workplace level, in the community councils and in the

Saturday night there was
the PSUV Youth concert, with a stage closing up Avenue 4, and a small
crowd of about 100 young people. It was an awesome concert though, I'm
starting to really get into Venezuelan music. In between songs one of
the youth promoters would plug people enrolling to vote and
participating in the new youth teams. At 9.30 it started to rain but
some of the hard core people kept dancing, and me and a friend went to
the pub, where among other things she talked about how demotivated she
was feeling, "I've been supporting Chavez since he came to power….but
these days I just want to finish my studies and get ajob…". She feels
like this because of all the ‘hacks' or reformists/bureaucrats that we
have to deal with in everything. 

On Monday I ducked out to
have lunch and go with my friend to check out a place, as he's
struggling to find a place to live. He's involved in an alternative
media collective- which had 12 people in it, but only 3 people are
doing all of the work. He's also feeling like a bit of a holiday J 

Gosh its been a bit of a gloomy blog entry…but to be honest, that's kind of the mood right now.