A random, exciting, and worrying week

With the national youth
conference, a planned coup revealed, students going back to uni
yesterday, and the campaign to discuss the laws as well as for the
elections heating up, it has been quite a week. 

– My friend texted me that her and some of our comrades were going to a
meeting about the waste plant NOW. So I dashed out of the house and sat
frustrated in snail like traffic for half an hour. She texted me at 6,
I got there at 6.30, the meeting was an hour and half's drive away, and
was officially starting at 6 : ). However we made it on time, as
everyone else was in the same situation- coming from work and so on.

Ever since the workers
tried to take over the recycling/sorting plant (that is, rubbish was
sorted and some of it recycled), and then the bosses sabotaged the
equipment etc, (summarising and leaving out a lot of detail), Merida's
rubbish has been taken to Puente Viejo- a town, as I said, about
1.5hours from the centre.

The meeting was mainly
between local community members, some PSUV reps, and Mayors from the
relevant municipalities. Unfortunately the community members (or their
community council) were only really concerned about their own
situation. The dump is uncovered and the smell affects people. One
woman basically took the stance that ‘we don't care which company deals
with this, we are just sick of having meeting after meeting and nothing
gets resolved.' They didn't seem very interested in broader issues of
the environment or of workers' rights, however they did make one good
argument, I thought, that it is all of Merida making the rubbish, so it shouldn't only be the community council near the rubbish dump that is handling the issue.

Whilst the mayor of Merida
Centre, Carlos Leon, was his usual self- trying to put off doing
anything by saying they should meet with the environment minister etc,
I still think its cool that such meetings even happen. The right of
community to meet and argue with the mayor (as many did), to demand
stuff, is kinda taken for granted, and people don't feel like they have
to wear a suit to have an opinion… mothers, workers, old people- they
all got up and had their say. 

– Across the country meetings are being organised so that people can
talk about the new 26 laws. One such meeting was planned for Merida
on Wednesday. About 60 people turned up. We were all given pamphlets
about the laws and a CD with the laws on them. Power point was set up.
A lot of the people from my local PSUV branch were there. But then
there was a power out (they have been pretty frequent lately). We
waited for about 45 minutes, chatting in the dark or outside, and
finally the delegate for the area gave a quick speech, announced some
mercal distrubtion days and so on, and the meeting was postponed. 

– We had tried to organise a youth meeting for a day other than
Saturday, given the number of local young people who work Saturday's.
Unfortunately only 4 young people turned up (2 of which were new, which
is good- if you include all the people have turned up I think there are
about 11 of us, the trouble is finding a time when everyone can make
it). We decided rather than organising another meeting for now, to do
some mural painting. I gotta find out where we can get the materials.After
the meeting I went out with one of the young people. I don't know if
it's true of all branches, but people in my branch are really friendly
and there's this thing that you should get to know each other- not just
talk politics, organise stuff, and say goodbye. 

– Well after the plan to kill Chavez etc was shown on TV there have
been a lot of concentrations in the main plazas across the country. I
got a text about one starting at 3 on Friday. By about 4 people started
to arrive in bigger numbers, and they actually stayed there (or left
and new people arrived) until about 8 or 9 at night.

From about 3-6 a guy from
the ‘movement of professionals in the PSUV' stood on a brick fence and
talked about the new laws, the need for people to meet and discuss
them. And I stood there handing out the ‘decalogue' about the laws-
which summarises them and counters the opposition lies. However,
because the professionals had paid for the photocopies they didn't want
them handed out willy nilly, so I was holding them up and waiting for
people to specifically request them.  

So cool. There are few
countries where people want to know about their laws (or where the
government makes an effort to inform them).

"Let's read the President's laws!" Someone says to their kid as they take a copy.

Another woman shows me the PSUV logo on the copy and proudly says "I'm in this!".

"Is this the laws? Can I
have a copy? And one for my friend…Thanks" said over and over. It was
no effort to get rid of about 400.  

– People had mobilised in the plaza again, from about 10- to protest
the coup plan and also to promote the PSUV candidate. By 6, there were
still people there. Some in red t-shirts with the governor candidate's
name. Chavez songs (the never tiring ‘uh ah chavez no se va' etc blared
loudly over a truck speaker system. Apparently the candidate came to
speak a bit later, but I met a friend and we went over to Pueblo Nuevo,
where he had a meeting. According
to the lonely planet, Pueblo Nuevo doesn't exist- its just a river.
It's actually one of the poorest and most Chavista parts of Merida
city. Unfortunately there is bit of drug trading (or buying) going on
there, some robbery, and murders are frequently reported. This friend,
M, is a bit new to politics- he's in the youth team of my party branch,
but also in this anarchist group. Next to radio Ecos- the community
radio station, is a kind of anarchist library/meeting space.

But the anarchists here seem pretty cool. They were mostly talking about Cuba, and then organising a meeting against prisons, and a bit about the rising costs of renting for students.

www.gringadiary.blogspot.com (including photos)