Venezuelan Bloggers: A Lot More Than Politics

Regular readers of the Global Voices “daily links” coming out of Venezuela are probably left with the impression that – just a month from presidential elections – the entire country, or at least its bloggers, are single-mindedly focused on politics. And while that may be understandably true of Venezuela's anglophone blogger contingent, it couldn't be further from characterizing the national blogosphere as a whole.

First piece of evidence:


BlogStock by Cesar Vivas

That photo – and more than a thousand others like it – is from BlogStock 2006, hosted by Los Guaros on October 7 and 8 in Barquisimeto. But this was no local bloggers reunion. A caravan was organized that picked up blogger-partier passengers in Caracas, Maracay, and Valencia. And for two intense, intoxicated days the Venezuelan blogosphere went from this to this.

Topocho has a photo essay of the fiesta. Inti includes some photos of his own, but adds:

Aunque las imágenes dicen más que mil palabras. Hay momentos que se pueden agregar a esas imágenes unas cuantas cosas escritas. Sin duda, reunir personas en un lugar para festejar algo (lo que sea) siempre termina siendo divertido (o casi siempre). Pero si reúnes a una cantidad enorme de buenas personas, cámaras digitales, mucha creatividad, vas a vivir momentos realmente impresionantes, desde los chistes bastante “tecnológicos”, pasando por los mejores bailes y terminando con un concierto de rock, increíblemente único, especial, delirante y lleno de humor. Ojala pasáramos más tiempo así, dejando en casa la computadora y olvidándonos de la conexión a Internet, mirando a los buenos amigos a los ojos.

Although photos say more than words, there are moments in which we can add something written to those images. Without a doubt, getting together with people to celebrate something (anything) always ends up being a good time (or almost always). But when you gather an enormous amount of good people, digital cameras, and a lot of creativity, you're going to really have an impressive time. From geeky jokes, to the best dances and a rock concert, it was incredibly unique, crazy, and full of humor. Hopefully we'll spend more time like this, leaving the computer at home, forgetting about the internet, and looking at good friends in the eyes.

“EGG” admits he had too much fun at BlogStock 2006 and lends his support to a proposal by Crónicas de Zeitan [ES] to organize a similar event on the eastern side of the country. The jealously of those who were unable to attend was not just domestic. Writing from Mexico City, Eduardo Arcos chimed in:

Hoy mi amigo Inti Acevedo me dice: “así hacemos reuniones bloggers en Venezuela” y yo me sentí un nerd de mierda … y es que lo soy. Todavía me pregunto por qué no estuve en el BlogStock 2006 que hicieron en Barquisimeto, pero me queda claro dos cosas: los venezolanos son la bomba (las venezolanas mucho más) y el próximo año no me pierdo del BlogStock 2007.

Today my friend Inti Acevedo tells me, “this is how we do blogger gatherings in Venezuela and I felt like a shitty nerd … yup, that's what I am. I still wonder why I wasn't at BlogStock 2006 that they had in Barquisimeto, but two things are clear: Venezuelans are the bomb (the women more so) and next year I'm not missing out on BlogStock 2007.

If you too would like to take part in BlogStock 2007, keep your eyes on Eventos Blogueros [ES], a new blog dedicated to blogger meetups and parties throughout Venezuela.

Second Piece of Evidence:


While clerics in Zanzibar cancelled a beach party that was to celebrate Freddy Mercury's 60th birthday and while most Venezuelan bloggers were tipping their cups at BlogStock, still others braved a cold night in Caracas to pay tribute to the Queen frontman and help raise money for several causes.

Luis Carlos sums up the night [ES]:

La reunión en honor a Mercury contó con la presencia de Demoda en la logística, EE en el transporte y otros blogueros como Sikanda, Blogo, Superdharma, Awacate y su nena, Multivak, DovMd, Dra.Nanda, Currusa, Yadi y Diego…

Quede para el recuerdo la estrella que dejamos en el firmamento del cielo Mercury tras la donación a su fundación. Pero además la colecta subastada para la fundación de Itriago y para la madre de awacate, que ha sentado un precedente en la comunidad bloguera venezolana. Paralelo al Blogstock en Barquisimeto, se proyectaba una tributo a Freddie en la gran pared de la casa cercana al cielo para escuchar luego al grupo Madame.

- Sobre la identidad de una nueva raza: la madre de Salvador recibiéndonos con un cálido y sonreído (voz de madre): “¡Blogueros!”… para estrecharnos con cariño automático.

- “Es que si no tienes blog no eres nadie”, frase de Salva a las amigas de Demoda que no sabían de dónde habíamos salido.

The gathering in honor of Mercury had the attendance of ex-blogger “Demoda” covering logistics, “EE” on transport, and other bloggers like Sikanda, Blogo, Superdharma, Awacate and her daughter, Multivak, DovMd, Dra.Nanda, Currusa, Yadi and Diego… We left a star to be remembered in Mercury's firmament by leaving a donation to his foundation. But also, money from the auction went to the “Salvador Itriago foundation” and to Awacate's mother, who has established a precedent in Venezuela's blogging community.

At the same time as Blogstock in Barquisimeto, a tribute to Freddie was projected onto the large wall of a house close to the sky. Later we heard [Queen covers] by the group Madame.

About the identity of a new species: Salvador's mother receiving us with a warm hug and smiling (in a mother's voice): “Blogueros!” … embracing us with tenderness automatically.

- “Because if you don't have a blog, you're a nobody,” a phrase of Salvador's to the friends of “Demoda” who had no idea where we came from.

Final Piece of Evidence:


Just one week before both BlogStock and the Freddy Mercury tribute party, Iria Puyosa organized a friendly blogger meetup in the Chacao neighborhood of Caracas. If you go to the Flickr page of the above photograph, you can visit the weblog of each person in attendance by mousing over their face.

Puyosa, in her inimitable style, rounded up the evening's conversation [ES]:

Zinnia Martínez nos contó que su trabajo con las bitácoras le trajo una llamadita de la Policía de Miranda. Tranquilos. No es necesario que se ponga a hacer un botón que diga: ¡Liberen a Zinnia, ya! La llamada del comandante de la Policía de Miranda fue para ofrecerle a Zinnia la responsabilidad de un proyecto de desarrollo bitácoras vecinales que puedan ser utilizadas por las comunidades para denunciar los problemas de seguridad y proponer soluciones. Ojalá se concrete el proyecto. Un paso hacia una acción policial coordinada por los ciudadanos.

En lluvia de ideas, surgió la propuesta de hacer una historia de la blogosfera venezolana, tarea que decidimos democráticamente encomendar a Luis Carlos Díaz. Tendrá que hacerlo en cuanto termine su tesis y aprenda a usar WordPress.

También hablamos de proyectos fuera de la red. Carlanga nos dio un teaser del largometraje que piensa rodar el próximo año.

Zinnia Martínez told us how her work with bloggers brought her a phone call from the police. Take it easy, there's no need to put a button on your blogs that says “Free Zinnia Now!” The phone call from the commander of the Miranda Police department was to offer Zinnia the responsibility of developing local blogs [ES] that could be used by communities to denounce security problems and propose solutions. Hopefully the project will come about … a step towards citizen policing.

During the shower of ideas, someone proposed a history of the Venezuelan blogosphere. We decided democratically that the task should be entrusted to Luis Carlos Díaz. He'll have to do it as soon as he finishes his thesis and learns how to use WordPress.

We also spoke of projects away from the net. Carlanga gave us a teaser of the feature length film that he's thinking about shooting next year.

It was clearly an evening of fruitful conversation mixed with jovial laughter. I asked several of the bloggers in attendance if they thought that weblogs encouraged or discouraged political partisanship. “They definitely help you understand the perspectives of those who have other political viewpoints,” everyone agreed. It was the only time politics was brought up all evening. When I mentioned the website We Feel Fine, which aggregates the feelings of bloggers around the world, I wondered aloud which country has the happiest blogosphere. “We do, definitely,” everyone yelled in chorus. I'm not one to disagree.

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