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Supermodel Naomi Campbell "Amazed" at Venezuelan Social Programs

Mérida, November 1, 2007 ( Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez inaugurated the first stage of a new housing complex, Commune Villa de Sol, in Caracas yesterday. The president was accompanied by British supermodel Naomi Campbell who was in the country to meet with Chavez and to learn about the Bolivarian Revolution. Campbell expressed her amazement with the social programs of the Chavez government.

"I am amazed by what I have seen here in only 24 hours," said Campbell after visiting the new Children's Heart Hospital in Caracas. "It's marvelous to know and see what is being implemented here in Venezuela."

Campbell accompanied President Chavez on Wednesday as he inaugurated housing for 120 families in a new apartment complex, Commune Villa de Sol, in a lower-class sector of Caracas. A total of six apartment buildings, of three-stories each, were handed over to families from the surrounding community.

The local residents, who have been living in squalid conditions without running water, bathrooms, or basic services for the last 25 years, exchanged their old steel-container housing for modern apartments. Each family will have a two year's grace period before having to begin payments on their new homes, and will pay according to their income.

The first stage of the complex was built with a total investment of Bs. 8 billion (US$ 3.7 million) and includes telephone, gas, and electrical service, as well as a preschool and center for "popular power" to exercise communal government. The apartments vary between 3 and 4 bedrooms, and have 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, and parking.

Upon their arrival, Campbell and Chavez were greeted with applause and cheers from the residents of the sector. The supermodel carried a tape recorder and camera and asked many questions as Chavez's ministers explained the project to move people out of the structurally dangerous shanty houses and into the new complex.

Minister of Participation and Social Development David Velasquez explained the concept of communal government that is exercised through the Communal Councils in each community. According to Velasquez, there are now more than 35,000 Communal Councils throughout the country, and more than 1,500 communes that are already practicing communal power in their communities. He explained that the Villa del Sol commune is an example of this new political structure.

"Since the year before, and this year, we have been testing these processes, and it has been shown that the people are capable of efficiently managing and administrating resources and giving better results in less time than private companies or even the very institutions of the state," he explained.

Campbell applauded the social programs of the Chavez government and emphasized in particular those programs directed toward the most disadvantaged sectors of society. The British supermodel is a representative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and traveled to Venezuela to discuss humanitarian topics with President Hugo Chavez, and to see the Bolivarian Revolution first hand.

"I have been reading and listening to my friends, and I wanted to see it for myself," she said in response to journalists. "I'm marveled, in only 24 hours here, to see all the love that is reflected in the social programs that are extended especially to the women and children of this country."

Campbell interviewed Chavez in the presidential palace for four hours on Tuesday, asking him "challenging questions," according to Chavez, including whether Chavez believes the "empire is going to fall."

Campbell stated the possibility of organizing a future meeting between the South African leader Nelson Mandela and the Venezuelan president.

Published on Nov 1st 2007 at 8.16pm