Welcome to Caracas. First day in the capital of Venezuela, seven o'clock in the evening, right next to a big, policia militar-guarded avenue, I am mugged. I lose my passport and my quick just-passing-thru becomes a tedious wait of two weeks.
Today´s El Universal tells that during the last friday, between 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 in the next morning, 51 people were killed violently in Caracas. Compared to this, Rio de Janeiro is a peaceful trip to a beautiful place in the country - Rio´s average daily body count hovers around 17. One victim that made headlines was a 19-year old male, shot to death in his own home, by a thief who was robbing the clothes hung to dry in a window.
Welcome to The Bolivarian Revolution. After ten years of Hugo Chavéz, for better or for worse, Venezuela is one of the least democratic countries on the continent. Chavéz is everywhere, supported by a huge propaganda engine building a cult around the leader´s charismatic personality. The graffiti on the streets screams Sí, Chavéz! Open the television, any time during the day, and after a little surfing you´ll find a channel running a speech by Chavéz. "With Chavéz, people are the government", goes the official slogan of the nation, and the face of the president seems to mark every official or unofficial surface.
Chavéz might be on the side of the poor people against the evil forces of the international capitalism, but he is also a fanatic, a militant and a populist. And very much like George Bush he loathes so much, Chavéz just can´t keep his fingers of the affairs of the other nations, spending the country´s oil riches on political adventures abroad. Crisis of March 2008, following Colombia´s strike against FARC on the Equador´s territory, was seen by many - and not completely without a reason - as a shameless attempt by Chavéz to spark a war on the continent.
Welcome back to the Spanish-speaking part of the continent. The duo Wisin & Yandel are ruling the reaggaton right now. And thus, they are pretty much ruling the airwaves everywhere. There are two songs that you will hear every single day, many times, unless you stay in your hotel room and keep the windows shut tight. And don´t turn on the television.
First, on Donde Está El Amor, featuring Franco de Vita, they are lamenting over the bad things happening around the world.
And Sexy Movimiento should be pretty self-explanatory.
I don't really like either of these songs. I don't actually care that much about the whole Los Extraterrestres-album of Wisin & Yandel, but my taste doesn´t matter here. This is what the Latin America is playing.
And finally, welcome to Venezuela. Despite all the violence, difficulties and challenges, Venezuela is a beautiful country, full of incredible natural wonders and riches.