Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hugo Chavez

Chavez Waves to the Crowd
This posting is dedicated to Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela.  Why President Chavez?  Well, I have two reasons.  First, because of the work I was doing at the time, I had great access to take some photography normally reserved for the press corps.  Second, these shots represent a specific form of photography that is intended to tell a story; photo journalism.
I am not a photo journalist, and have an immense level of respect for the work done by this group of highly talented professional photographers.  Of all the manners by which photographers are able to earn a living, I often wish I could join this esteemed group.
Chavez waves to Chavistas from Bolivar State
There is no doubt that President Chavez is a controversial figure.  There is also no doubt that he has a loyal following in Venezuela as we see in the second photo as he waves to a crowd from Estado Bolivar.  This photo highlights a common scene in Venezuela; Chavez supporters, commonly known as Chavistas, dressed in their hallmark red t-shirts.
Chavez Contemplating his Innauguration
The next two shots, both head shots of President Chavez, tell another part of the story.  Apart from his support that comes principally from the large population of low income families in Venezuela, these shots leave one with the impression that behind the public face of a skilled politician waving to adoring crowds is a man under great pressure to live up to grand promises of 21st “century socialism” (his words).
Chavez Profile
As I look at the last two photos, three years after they were taken at the 2006 inaugural proceedings, I see him as both contemplative, and concerned about his position of meeting the expectations of a large populace left out of the benefits from a large petro-economy.
Chavez Salute
The shot above was taken at the 2004 Naval Day Parade in Maracaibo.  While both of these shots are typical of President Chavez’ public persona, the real story behind these shots is the improbability of me holding the camera sufficiently still to take the shots.  I was sick as a Caracas street dog.
Viva la revolucion
Maracaibo is located in the far western region of Venezuela.  A friend of mine and I decided to do a “road trip” from Caracas to the Navy Day celebration in Maracaibo.  On the way, we stopped at a small roadside restaurant (ok, maybe I am being generous in calling it a restaurant) to eat lunch.  I decided on the goat stew, while my more seasoned companions had the grilled fish.  To say the least, I reacted violently to the goat stew and was teetering on the edge of consciousness for the remainder of the weekend – in spite of a host of home grown Amazonian remedies.
Chavez Salutes the Crowd
I leave you with the final shot of President Chavez, who, regardless of what you may think of his policies and politics, is a skilled politician.  He is probably one of the most hard working politicians I have ever observed.  Of course this hard work is necessary; he has a strong and vocal opposition in Venezuela as well as a healthy group of critics throughout the world.  While I certainly hold a distinct view based on my experience, I will leave it to the political blogs to resolve the vices and virtues of President Chavez.
I hope you enjoyed these photos, and for the real photo journalists, please accept my apologies for for inadequately representing your profession.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, some excellent shots. I remember your goat experience and can definitely relate to your reaction to it. I've checked it off my bucket list and look forward to my next adventure....camel meat! Great pics and story line.