Saturday, April 12, 2003


It just isn’t the same writing these blogs in Caracas without Raven. We are working out a slightly more high-tech method than the tradtional 2 cans and a string approach to communication. We are now exchanging e-mails.

From me to Raven:

Hey, guy, after a 4 hour search to obtain bolivares for mexican pesos yesterday that left me frazzled and with an episode of diarrhea due to my visit to an upscale east-side Italian bistro (fast service, tortellinis seemed fresh, almost good italian bread with olive oil and something else to dip it in; it may have been the “something else” that hit my stomach like a cluster bomb falling on a house in Bagdad?) I managed to keep my intestines under control to watch a strong documentary film by 2 Irish women about the coup that took place here a year ago, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. My friend Félix and I watched maybe 15 minutes in the English version and then started again with the version in Spanish. I have mixed feelings about the massive difference in quality of the print cut in English and the washed out version in Spanish—but maybe it’s more important for English speakers to understand what happened here?

Raven apparently took a few minutes to down his coffee and respond from Puerto Angel:

Hey you, too. Maybe the Spanish version is meant to be a bus picture!

*Note: Some of the films that turn up on the first class buses are normal videos of films—mostly from Hollywood—but there are some nearly inexplicable choices—the occasional good documentary about divers in Cabo Verde, but just as likely a low-budget biker video with hilarious subtitling of the biker jargon. This documentary could serve as a consciousness raising vehicle on the buses....

Raven continues:

Check out Eduardo Galeano´s piece, “la náusea” in LA JORNADA:

“The country in the world which fabricates more weapons and more lies sneers at the sufferings of others. ‘We don’t count the dead’, answered General Franks when someone asked him about collateral damage—what they call those civilians blown to bits.”

Me to Raven:

Rave, right. Remember the blog we did about the Bly poem, “Counting Small.Boned Bodies”? For the Poets Against the War event at the university, where one of my students lifted the roof of the auditorium reading Miguel Hernández’ elegy from the Spanish Civil War, “Sentado sobre los muertos” (Sitting on the Dead)....I have the Galeano piece on the screen now. Nice translating. What about this irony-laden comment?:

”Babylon, the whore of the Old Testament, deserves this punishment. For its many sins and its plentiful petroleum.”

And then, at the end:

“The country dedicated to bombing the other countries, that for years and years has been inflicting an uncontrolable number of 9/11s, has declared an infinite third world war.

Raven to me:

Of course it is. And get this, from another piece:

“Miami, 11 de abril. The governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, brother of president George W. Bush, proclaimed on Friday that after the “success” of the war in Iraq, the United States ought to turn its sights to the “neighborhood” and pressure the international community so that the cuban regime doesn’t continue.”

What is this—a neighborhood cleanup campaign?

Me to Raven:

That’s all we need, Rave—the whore of the Miami anticastristas who rigged the election in Florida to put the Village Idiot in the White House dedicating himself to being the soccer mom of the hemisphere. This scenario of putting Cuba and then Venezuela in the crosshairs was mentioned by Chávez last night after we watched the film. What he didn’t do was quote himself—about a year ago he said “We will continue for many years in the crosshairs of the snipers....”

Raven to me:

I read that he cut an agreement yesterday with the “opposition” to hold the referendum on his presidency. So I guess Carter will be going back to Caracas?

Me to Raven:

Yeah. At least he is a dove—his flying here with his new Nobel sure beats the hell out of sending a cruise missile through the front door of Miraflores.

Raven to me:

I bet the Pentagon still has those 3,000 toilet seats they didn’t drop on Bagdad....

Friday, April 11, 2003


Yesterday in the forum for solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution a professor from the Central University here in Caracas spoke about the relevance of Simón Bolívar´s thinking for these moments in which we are living.

Bolívar was ahead of his time. He devoted a hundred percent of his time and energy and economic resources to freeing his country from its colonial status; he was born wealthy and died penniless, wearing a borrowed shirt. His ideas about equality of all people in a nation and creating a structure for a united South America had gone unheeded until the emergence of Chávez on the political screen, who proudly wears his mixed ethnicity and his heart on his sleeve.

Chávez has not endeared himself to the oligarchy, the traditional elite whose control of Venezuela Bolívar tried to prevent. The same kinds of folks who conspired against The Liberator actively conspire against Chávez. I sure didn’t see any designer label shoppers in the crowd for yesterday’s events.

Raven might have spotted them; he has sharper eyes than I....

Revolutionary leaders who are ahead of their time--this theme kept resounding in my head all day yesterday, due not just to the analysis of Bolívar’s thinking, but also because April 10th was the 84th anniversary of the assassination in Chinameca, Morelos, of Emiliano Zapata—another leader who was ahead of his time because he wanted to take what was precious and useful from traditions of the past to insure a viable and harmonious future for campesinos of Mexico.

Zapata is famous for having said, “La tierra es de quien la trabaja” (The land belongs to the person who works it), and that phrase is displayed in the wall of the musuem in Anenecuilco, Morelos, that contains the ruins of house in which Zapata was born. Zapata was also against a society of classes. Why is it that leaders who believe in and promote the concept of equality among people are seen as dangers to society?

Zapata also said, “It´s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

I assume that Raven would insist that the question to think about in terms of the loss of personal freedom in the US and other parts of the world due to the current administration´s plan for world dominance is:

How many of us are living on our knees?

Raven, of course, doesn't have knees....

Thursday, April 10, 2003


Too bad Raven is not with me here in Caracas. With the White House Hawks who dominate the news everywhere I go in the world rubbing their claws together and salivating over the spoils of Iraq (only guys who have souls like oil spills could salivate over petroleum....), I miss Raven’s manic lyricism, his pointed wit.

Yesterday Rumsfeld described the images from Bagdad—the toppling of statues of Hussein--and said he couldn’t help thinking about the fall of the Berlin Wall, and of the Iron Curtain. He compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler, Stalin and Lenin. I am not sure how he hooked Lenin into the picture, but....He clearly forgot to notice that the cartoons circling the world in protest banners and newspapers most commonly show Bush with a false Hitler-style mustache, and discreet nazi swaztikas circling him like flies. (Who was that peanuts character? Ah yes, Pigpen....)

Who is Rumsfeld kidding, anyway? Now we will watch the Hawks take out the carving set and start slicing off chunks of Iraq. Petroleum for Cheney’s pals at Halliburton, France and Germany complaining that they are being discrimianted against in the division of the spoils because they didn’t support the US invasion. Cynical bastards are on the ascendancy almost everywhere, knives and forks upraised.

Here in Caracas, maybe not. This morning we will begin the Solidarity event to commemorate the failed coup that isolated Hugo Chávez from the presidency for almost 48 hours--returned to the office by the PEOPLE, those forgotten and disparaged elements of a democracy that is fast disappearing in the world at large—and there are folks from all over the world. So far I haven’t seen anyone else carrying a US passport, but maybe I will today? In the Foro Bolivariano de las Américas, I feel a little lonely holding down the fort with al the other spots in the hemisphere so well-represented—especially the younger generation of Canadians. I am hopeful that the White House petrocriminals who have tried to get their claws on Venezuela´s oil by demonizing Chávez and fomenting counterrevolution have not convinced every other US citizen but me to stay away from here.

But as an expat, I guess I don’t count anyway. I feel a precious sense of freedom—I can say or write what I want, even associate with terrorists if I choose to without being threatened with jail for my lack of patriotism. Or lack of nationalism—that outmoded 19th century bugaboo suddenly back in fashion in the retrograde epoch of Bush.

I am almost as free as Raven.


Sunday, April 06, 2003


Wow—trying to get on the night bus (13-14 grueling hours from Pochutla to Mexico City—almost as long as flying to Bagdad….) is not so easy. When I left the village, Raven was duking it out with Jupiter the Dog over some Brie in suspicious condition I put out in the garden when I made a half-hearted pass at cleaning out the refri (as we say in Spanish). Amd not only they were running amok: The cat--in this case I-- had not even left last night, and the mouse who lives downstairs in the kitchen, and who has been getting bigger and more belligerent, was trying to sleep in my bed!

And now, here in the Internet Café I open the window for LA JORNADA only to read rumors of the possible death of Saddam Hussein (not news)—and the possible death of Dick Cheney, who despite his dogged belligerence has apparently had some heart attacks (heart, not conscience) in the past….(which might be news—but only if true—I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”?)

Hmmm. Just last week Raven and I were demanding that Bush and Cheney both be impeached—as a number of folks have speculated that no one has assassinated Bush because Cheney and his Rabies would both become President.

Here in Mexico we say “Muerto el perro, se acaba la rabia” (When the dog dies, the rabies is finished)—which in the case of Cheney would raise the opportunity to test if the “dicho” has a real-life application. With Rabid Dogs of War Cheney and Bush out of the way, would the psychosis they have fomented—a combination of Big Stick a la Teddy Roosevelt, Jews for Jesus and/or Jesus as the Imposer of Alcoholics and Cokeheads for President (paz, Oliver Stone)—simmer down, or has the disease been fanned to epidemic proportions (in order to balance the idiosyncratic new pneumonia virus streaming out of China….?) by Rumsfeld, Rice and Other Canines for Christ?

I really find the inclusion of fundamentalism a nasty element in this bitches’ brew we are swimming in. Especially fundamentalism of the stripe that drags Jesus by the ear into every potential political conflict and insists that he did not say, “Turn the other cheek,” but gave orders along the lines of “Burn the other gook”, and not “Suffer that the little children come unto me”, but “Come and see the little children suffer in my name”. Let's stop with the Sermon on Capitol Hill. In short, as Eduardo Galeano has implied—when Jesus seems to be in the picture only to give contradictory messages--to Bush and to the Pope, in this case--it’s best to leave him out of it.

So. For the next step after IMPEACH THE BASTARDS:


Good Friday is coming up; let’s not crucify any more people in His name.