May Day in Venezuela

Photo Feature by Caridad

May Day 2010 in Caracas

HAVANA TIMES,  May 2 – Neither Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 nor Cuba’s Buena Fe were in Venezuela recently, but their music was clearly here during a very different sort of International Workers Day this past Saturday.  At many places where music was heard —adding even more cheer to the workers’ parade— I heard the music of these two duos.  Youth, diversity and commitment are the first things you think of when hearing these musicians, who have tons of fans in Venezuela.

I didn’t think I was going to be entertained in a march celebrating the first of May; plus, Venezuelans take their time with things.  However, while everything had already wound up back in Cuba, here an explosion of partying and slogan chanting had just begun.

They tell me there are marches here, like those on the island, that aren’t completely spontaneous.  But this was one of the most spontaneous ones I’d ever seen.  Though I don’t have many points of reference, because I’ve only been here a month in this city, I could note that people showed up here out of their own enthusiasm.  They came to demonstrate their support for the government and to show that they know their rights as workers.

Caracas’s Urdaneta Avenue was blanketed in red tee-shirts and flags.  Likewise, there were a slew of banners expressing the most dissimilar philosophies and ways of looking at life and society; however, they all shared support for a path to “socialism of the 21st century.”

With winding conga lines —similar to those in Cuba— I almost danced (keeping in mind that I don’t know how to dance).  Along the route, I thanked people for the candy they gave me and on the street I found nothing but cheerful faces, though these were opposed by others full of hate from behind the plate-glass windows of the bordering office buildings.

People told me stories about guys who drive motorcycles through crowds of marchers at full speed without hitting any of them, and they gave me tips on where to buy the best mangos and how much they should cost.

Vendors lost no chance to offer their services and celebrate their day the best they could: peddling sodas, corn on the cob, sweets and beer to those who filled Caracas with elation and euphoria.

I was thankful for all of this, just as one appreciates the opportunity to be alive, to see and to hear what usually we don’t have the opportunity to enjoy.

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