Monday, March 21, 2011

Caracas Redux


Image via Wikipedia

One of the benefits of doing work with a company like Microsoft is that you automatically have a built-in community of people to connect with.

I had the good fortune of meeting up with some of the Microsoft folks  for drinks on the first night I was in Caracas.

My conversation with them validated why I love to travel.

What proceeded to happen over the course of two hours (and maybe a bit too much whiskey) was that they just obliterated some of my pre-conceived notions of Venezuela.

First off, it’s ok to discuss politics.

Second, at least 50% of the people are fed up with Chavez and they predict he will lose in the next election (2012) and, if he does, he will step down.

Third, these guys are hilarious. Despite all of their country’s woes (and they know it’s bad-2 devaluations of the currency within the past year, government control, etc.), they are optimistic about the future and belief in the Venezuelan people as a group that love life, can come together, and there will be a brighter day.

That day, however, isn’t around the corner…it’s many years down the road.

As one of them said, “this is where I live. It’s where my family lives. I’m part of this place. I don’t think I’ll see the brighter day, but my daughter will.”

It reminded me that, despite my fear of the security, violence, anti-American sentiment, that these are regular, good people just doing their best.

America is just a convenient bogeyman for Chavez. It’s about finding an enemy so that he doesn’t have to take the blame for all of the problems I described the other day.

In reality, they say, most Venezuelans LOVE America. They buy American things, go to Disney World on vacation, and like what America stands for.

South America has been a true eye-opener for me. A strong reminder that you “fear what you don’t know” and the important thing is to conquer those fears and investigate for yourself, making your own opinions.

That’s not to say that I’m going to go out and walk the streets of Caracas alone at midnight with a pile of cash tied to my chest, but it is to say that I am not going to say “Chavez=Venezuela,” end of story.

I’m going to remember that there are people behind the story. People with opinions, feelings, hopes and aspirations and that I need to hear their stories as well.

blog comments powered by Disqus
View Comments