Venezuela has been witnessing a massive crackdown on journalism and public dissent under the current government (not that the previous government was much better). Mass protest happen daily throughout yet receive no media coverage due to government interference. This clampdown has led to frustration amongst media professionals who have decided to keep broadcasting, but on busses.
The process at Bus TV, for example, is incredibly simple: A producer steps onto the bus and asks the driver for permission to present the news. Two journalists hold the makeshift TV, while the host reads the four-minute news bulletin covering current events. They not only talk about the protests, but shortages or other daily hardships many here are experiencing. Each day the newscast is different, and although government sources are rarely made available for interviews, the reporters work to incorporate public statements from officials in order to make the newscast as balanced and professional as possible.
The idea came to reporter Claudia Lizardo in late April. The capital was overwhelmed by protests, but when she got on the bus she realized no one was talking about it. â€œI felt like I was in a parallel reality,â€ she says. â€œIt seemed like nothing [out of the ordinary] was happening in the country.â€ She feared it was a matter of lack of information â€“ or even misinformation. So she gathered a group of friends and launched Bus TV.
â€œThis is not a protest, but itâ€™s a form of resistance,â€ says Laura Castilllo, a journalist working with Bus TV. â€œItâ€™s a way to counteract censorship.â€
In Venezuela’s largest city they’re looking to make roads usable for people again. The city of Caracas is encouraging people to come out and enjoy reclaimed public spaces on specific days in the city when cars aren’t allowed on a lot roads. Not only is this good for people it’s good for the environment.
Jorge Rodriguez, the Mayor of Caracas, said the projectâ€™s goal is to create spaces of â€œenjoyment and recreationâ€ in the capital, and to â€œre-create a different city to that rushed metropolis which is full of carsâ€.
â€œCaracas is different if you travel it by bicycle, walking in the city is wonderful. There are spaces which have been recovered by the revolution for the enjoyment of all Caracas residents and visitors,â€ he added.
Venezuelan families turned out in droves yesterday to take advantage of the closed roads, either bringing their own bicycles or borrowing one of the 200 government bicycles made available through a joint manufacturing project with Iran.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has launched programs that subsidize things that poor people need using oil sales from the oil generated in Venezuela. Chavez wants to use the oil wealth for positive social change that will help the country develop. People living in poor parts of Venezuela seem to agree with Chavez. The above link points out some of the weaknesses of Chavez’s plan and at the same time shows how his plans are helping those in need.
“Drawing on billions of dollars in oil revenues, Chavez has started a long list of social programs, called “missions,” which offer everything from job training to cash assistance for single mothers.”