The need to stop, in order to start

Christmas (the religious holiday or the end of year break, either way) is here- there are loud bangs all day and all night (as I was walking to the phone, about 4 electric workers gleefully lit a cracker in the street, setting off all the car alarms nearby…"another one, another one!"), Christmas trees are going up on campus, in offices (including public ones- no laws against that here I guess), there's one in the hallway of my house (a first for me), and people are having end of work and study dinners etc. I missed about 3 that were happening all at once the other day because I had to work.

But despite that, the signature collecting to get the constitution changed to allow for more than one re-election continues.

It officially started on Thursday. There were FOUR red tents in the plaza, music (the new Ska-p song about Chavez), people speaking on the megaphone, and the tents were full all day with people wanting to sign.

The idea is that the COEs (the electoral commissions corresponding to each PSUV branch) have to seek out as many signatures as votes that were obtained in the recent elections. Someone with kids at the meeting pointed out how in school a lot of the teachers are already speaking against the amendment. That is, although the National Assembly hasn't yet passed it through discussion, the campaign on both sides has already started.

The way people have become immediately ‘animated' around this has surprised me- both those collecting signatures (yelling out, "Friend! Have you signed for the amendment yet?") and those signing.

I help out for a while on one tent, folding some leaflets, handing out the newspaper, chatting to people and watching what's going on. Nearby, a happy short old woman walks around shouting ‘Que viva Chavez!'. (Later she tells me that Chavez was given to us by god..). C, an old but energetic and passionate lawyer, picks up the megaphone and puts the siren on and points it at people gleefully, almost cheekily, before starting to spruik, "for the petrocasas! For the missions!" then he shoves the microphone at passes by and asks them what they think.

On Friday I went along to the last lecture of the diploma in ‘marxism and revolution' at the University of Los Andes. Organised by a bunch of ‘activist academics', there was a series of lectures on Marx, Gramsci, the Russian revolution, etc. Friday's topic was ‘dialectical materialism'. I admit I hadn't gone along before because…well I've kinda studied it all before (but hey study never stops, we never know everything) and because I'm against the lecture style (1 person talking, 80 people listening, isn't exactly a socialist education method), but it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined.

Most of the people were quite young, mostly male, but there was a really healthy amount of interrupting, discussion, and my boyfriend came out of it not wanting to go to the party that was on, but back to his house to study up some of the ideas (but we went to the party anyway : ). At one point, an 8 year old kid put his hand up (in response to the question by the lecturer, ‘what is the central contradiction of capitalism') and started to explain to everyone, with all seriousness, what the difference between socialism and capitalism is. Ha, it was hilarious! He got quite a round of applause when he finished.

Finally, on Saturday we had another PSUV branch meeting, but unfortunately this time only 4 people turned up. And those 4 people were pretty frustrated (well apart from me, I think I'm getting jaded or something, or used to my frustration. I also had a killer headache, which they all just assumed was a hangover, and two of them went out to buy me Gatorade, haha so sweet).

"We need to DO something!" was the over all sentiment. One argued, if we don't stop shutting up about the right being mixed up into the PSUV and in everything, the contradictions and problems will keep getting worse. Someone else made this point the other night at the party- there keep being elections, and so much stuff, including proper criticism and ‘cleansing' gets put off, and put off…