A week from the opening of the Sixth World Social Forum, the Venezuelan blogosphere is not paying much attention to the event.
Pro-government Aporrea blog is the only weblog publishing news about the WSF everyday. Most of such entries are quotations from the government news agency ABN. Meanwhile, the anarchist blog, Colectivo La Libertad is covering news about the Alternative Social Forum, that will be hosted by anarchist collectives in Venezuela the very same week of the WSF. Reste@dos is publishing notes about both the WSF and the Alternative Forum agendas.
The feeling among Venezuelan bloggers is that sixth WSF may not be authentically representative of the Porto Alegre spirit since military officers and presidential bodyguards are expected to take control of all the Forum facilities. Thus, the humble Alternative gathering is seen as more suitable for social-minded people to share ideas without “pledging fidelity” to the Venezuelan president.
The only activity related to the WSF that is catching the attention of Venezuelan bloggers is the open invite to be part of a naked crowd standing to be photographed by Spencer Tunick. At least twelve Venezuelan bloggers swear they will be there.
There’s been some buzz on the email lists, though. If I can get my last contract to actually *pay*, I may hop over for it from Trinidad.
Nice one, Iria. A model of concision. Sweet headline, too.
Taran, I hope you’ll be participating in the photo shoot :)
What’s it worth to you, Georgia? :0)
Unfortunately not a whole lot as I’ll be all the way in Trinidad. My vision is good, but not that good. :)
Yes, Tara. In the NGOs and social activists e-mail lists, people are showing interest in the Forum, but bloggers are been indifferent or skeptical. That is kind of unfortunate because email lists are closed to people who are already committed to social activism, while bloggers reach a broader audience. Anyway, hope you can attend.
Georgia, I guess the headline has something to do in the Caribbean way.
The Photo Installation has been postponed d/t the bridge problem.
Subject: Caracas postponed, check museum installation website for updates
From: “Spencer Tunick” >
January 11, 2006
This Public Announcement is being issued to inform U.S. Citizens traveling to and residing in Venezuela of the serious impact on travelers of the indefinite closure of the first bridge on the Caracas-La Guaira highway. The highway is the principal link between Caracas and Maiquetia Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS), as well as between Caracas and the country’s principal seaport, La Guaira. The Venezuelan Ministry of Infrastructure determined the bridge was unsafe as a result of recent rainfall and soil shifting and closed the bridge to all traffic. This Public Announcement expires on June 5, 2006.
Due to concerns regarding the safety and security of the alternative routes, including narrow, unlit mountain roads passing through isolated areas or crime-prone neighborhoods (as noted in the Consular Information Sheet), the Embassy has determined that Embassy employees and their dependents must restrict their time on the roads to daylight hours in official vehicles. Excessive delays are expected between Caracas and the Maiquetia Simon Bolivar International Airport.
It is possible that some flights will be rerouted and/or rescheduled. The most likely destination for rerouted flights is Arturo Michelalena International Airport in Valencia, approximately 75 miles west of Caracas. Travelers to Caracas are therefore advised to contact their airline or flight operator for an updated schedule of flights and airports and allow considerable extra time for travel to the airport.
Travelers in overnight transit via Maiquetia Simon Bolivar International Airport are advised to remain in hotels located near the airport and avoid traveling to Caracas if possible.
American citizens are urged to remain abreast of this situation and to develop personal contingency plans as appropriate. In addition to local media, American citizens may consult the Embassy’s web page for current situational guidance. The Embassy’s web page can be found at http://venezuela.usembassy.gov. As additional information becomes available the Embassy will disseminate it via the warden registration system. American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department’s travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov.
Roger Coss, co-manager MSN Group “The Spencer Tunick Experience”
TaraN. The ‘N’, while only one letter, distinguishes between male and female. ;-)
And yes, the NGO lists are closed – which is one reason why I left the ICA Caribbean CIVIC list. I wrote about that here: http://www.knowprose.com/node/10045 (You’ll see a section in that entry on CIVIC) – last one.
MISTICA ran out of funding, and nobody seems to know where my dollar went (I gave them a T&T dollar as a sign of support at the meeting in the Dominican Republic).
Foro Social Caribe is one I lurk on, but it’s mainly in Spanish and so I usually check the list emails when I’m willing to dedicate time to meander through my new non-native tongue with all the misspellings and dialects…
I’ve pushed blogging on 2 of the 3. For CIVIC and MISTICA, I offered setting up sites at no cost, but no interest was expressed. That I can do that and have a site up and running within 30 minutes once the DNS is set up for the domain name and good hosting is had is no secret. Modifications take more time. But, you see, they were looking for funding.
MISTICA was planning to do something, which was spoken of at the meeting, with servers already warm and ready in Brazil. That was last year in June, as I recall. They wanted to do a lot, wanted to make MISTICA self sustaining, use some open source software that was being developed in Brazil but was still in beta, and weren’t too open to suggestions from me…
So yes, I’m a bit disillusioned with Caribbean NGOs and their efforts. There’s plenty that could have already been done – email to blog posts, to threaded discussion, to… but they didn’t want to hear it. Seemed to me that they were more interested in what they could get funding for.
I’ve tossed around ideas in my head about a collaborative Caribbean website, but to make it self sustaining requires community participation.
Making Yet Another Aggregator site seems stupid to me because it adds no value. The value comes when you connect the dots, not when you collect them, but advertising doesn’t care too much about the difference – yet. They just want click throughs, and do not care to distinguish between value content and sites which aggregate links to buy ads cheaply to pay for ads that people click when they get to their site…
The ultimate, of course, would be to get the NGOs to pay for ads so that funding agencies can find them while the bloggers make the NGO dialect comprehensible to others… :-)
Many of you KNOW who I am – and you KNOW how rightwing I am. But I just wanted to say that having recently gotten out of Caracas, I don’t think the WSF attendees should worry about the military guys. They were the friendliest, most helpful people I met in Venezuela. If you were lost, they’d help you get found, if you were being pestered by an aggressive taxi driver, they’d get him away from you and get you a good one. They were around in certain strategic sites, like oil refineries and near presidential areas and on dangerous stretches of road or other areas where it’s wasn’t that scary to see them, but really, I’m speaking from recent experience, and I did not find them to be overly obtrusive or anything other than pleasant and helpful. As Harry Hutton puts it, putting aside ideology: facts are facts.
TaraN (sorry about that), you just hit an issue that bothers me.
I’m subscribed to 5 social activism and/or political email lists (education in Venezuela, LA pacifism, social development NGOs, university autonomy, and Venezuelan graduate students overseas); all the same, people use these lists to advertise their events, their organizations and to gain political clout. No conversation, no dialogue, no debate; as you said, such lists are “newsletters”.
That may be the reason why this kind of people does not understand that a blog is about discussing issues no about advertising events. It is about collaboration and participation. A blog never would be a single person endeavor, although it is cheap and easy to manage.
Several organizations have been sending me information about the events they will be holding in the WSF. I have published some, and people are happy that such information is on-line for somebody surfing the net. They don’t understand that they are missing the opportunity to open the conversation to other people who are not already members of any organization.
Similar thing with the dilemma of doing things that helps to get funding rather than doing things that helps to outreach other publics and to build community.
Basically, there is not willingness to take any risk.
Anyway, thank you, your article was inspirational. I’m going to unsubscribe right now from two of those wasted lists. The others would follow soon.
Roger, apparently the cancellation of The Spencer Tunick Experience in Caracas has not gotten into the news in Venezuela. Even today, I’m reading new blogs entries talking about taking part in that event.
Personally, I think that the U.S. Embassy overreacted when issuing the warning of not traveling to Caracas. Road conditions are though but not impossible to bear, and the “crime-prone neighborhoods” are as risky as many Caracas’ neighborhoods, or US urban neighborhoods for that matter.
Mora León, I really don’t know whether or not military officers will take control of the WSF facilities. I doubt it would happen. Simply, social-minded people in Caracas are afraid militarization would happen due to the government tendency to militarize anything they handle, and that concern is enough to dissuade then from attending the event. You may know that lefty people and human rights activists do not like to be surrounded by military; bring bad memories. Anyway, I think that like the U.S. Embassy they are overreacting.