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 Home > Event-related > World Social Forum > Caracas 2006

[ en es ]

Latest report from Caracas

January 21, 2006
(Date: 21 January 2006)

This report is on the Babels forum. You can react to it by clicking here.

Sorry for the silence since yesterday, when events began. Firstly I did not have time to sit and write reports as I should have done. Later I was in the hotel and had no connection. That is why you only receive this catastrophic report now.

You should know:

1) We will have approximately 75 interpreters in Caracas by Sunday nights (of and initial total of 283, before the many cancellations). If you have not yet received a definite confirmation reservation and/or you have not been able to obtain confirmation of your flight from the airline, your reservation was not paid and will probably be cancelled.

2) If you do not mind continuing to wait for the “Facilitation Group” of the Social Forum to undo the mess they have made – that is, if you don’t mind waiting for infinite negotiations to develop – then “stand by”: it is possible that they find you a ticket, they buy it, and you come to Caracas. If you will not, or cannot continue with this uncertainty, please cancel your participation as soon as possible.

This is what happened:

1) Up until Thursday night, the Social Forum accounts were being paid by the Foundation for a better World, an NGO created in Venezuela to manage the funds “donated” to the FSM and FSA. In truth, 90% of the funds managed by the Foundation were from the Venezuelan Government.

2) The Foundation wrote its LAST cheque last Friday morning. It was 25 million Bolivars ($12,000) to one of the two travel private agents reserving and buying the Babels tickets and it was set to cover the tickets from Mexico, Ecuador and Cuba (so the interpreters from these countries do have tickets). To compare: just the tickets from Brazil cost Bs 280 millon, and from Europe, Bs 100 millon.

3) Once this cheque for Bs 25 millon was written, the funds for the VI Word Social Forum and the II Forum of the Americas stood at virtually ZERO.

4) Who will pay the rest? The Venezuelan government directly. Members of the FG had only ONE face to face meeting with members of this government, in La Habana, Cuba, in April. Ten months ago the FG asked the Chavez government for definitions (and money) and heard exactly what we have been hearing for the past two or three months: "Tomorrow, don’t worry”.

5) We were told what I am telling you here by Edgardo, as, after spending the afternoon desperately looking for hum, as we could not find, he appeared in the Babels office with Santiago, Cheo’s brother, and gave us the explanations that Zuraima should have given us from the beginning.

6) "Mañana" finally arrived, and it was Thursday night. Zuraima and Edgardo practically spent the entire night meeting with Dario Vivas (representative of the Chavez government) and his comittee.

7) The results of that meeting were, initially, received with great enthusiasm: the Chavez government will pay for everything!

8) BUT with regard to the Babels tickets there was a small detail. The government will only pay tickets issued by the travel agency Petroleos de Venezuela, (Pdvsa).

9) On behalf of the government, the FG asked Sandra and Mary, from the two private travel agents, to simply pass all the reservations to Pdvsa – that is to say, the results of almost a months in which the two agents worked tirelessly with us, finding tickets, cancelling them when they were not paid, paying in advance for tickets they were not paid for and working all the time (Mary was awake at 2am on Friday, when we still had hope, before the end of the meeting of the FG where it was decided that they will not be paid for the tickets nor the time they lost).

10) Naturally, and correctly, neither of the two wants to give Pdvsa the results of their work for free.

11) So either a) they will offer them some payment for the time and energy spent. OR b) they will not offer them anything and they will not pass the reservations on to Pdvsa.

12) Either way, long and complex negotiations will be required. They may last one, two or even three days. If they decide not to transfer the tickets already prepared, hen Pdvsa will have to start from zero and they will not find tickets.

13) We are now trying to prepare the infrastructure for the 75 interpreters who already flew or have confirmed flights up to Sunday night. We have no money at all (we are buying water and office materials with our own money – basically Miguel’s money, and god knows how long he has been paying to do this work!).

14) The majority of the 12 Babels coordinators will be here tonight, and if they have the energy, we will talk about it and maybe new solutions will appear.

15) A proposal from Cheo is on the table, and we identify with it a lot: we want the FG to explain the situation to the 75 interpreters and 12 coordinators in a general meeting on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Based on this meeting, all those who are in Caracas will be able to decide what to do and how to do it.

Leda, and also Miguel, Marcelo y Carmelo

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