On Caracas/Cochabamba

Tariq Ali on Caracas/Cochabamba for The London Review of Books (Diary), June 21, 2007

The 1960s skyscrapers of Caracas seemed uglier than usual. The Hotel Gran Melia wasn’t very appealing either. The kitsch ceiling in the giant lobby was reminiscent of the Dubai School (why does oil wealth seem to result in such bad architecture?) and I wished I was staying, as I normally do, at the shabby, bare, miserable but atmospheric Hilton. I was in Caracas to speak at a conference on global media networks and to attend a meeting of the advisory board of the Spanish/Portuguese cable news channel Telesur – set up jointly by Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Cuba and now Ecuador. Intended to provide an alternative to the CNN/BBC worldview, the new channel has been a modest success, with between five and six million regular viewers. The privately owned channels devote hours of coverage to US Congressional results or a murder on a US campus: Telesur announces these events briefly and devotes the rest of the bulletin to live coverage from Nicaragua, where elections are taking place, or from Ecuador, where a referendum that will lead to the drafting of a new constitution has been won by the new government. read more