People With Nothing

Jan. 25, 2005 9:30 a.m.
New York City

We stopped by the roadside in northern Venezuela for breakfast. Everyone in the car spoke Spanish but me. Sometimes they all laughed at something. We were going to get arepas. They are some kind of tortillas with a choice of fillings. Shef went with chicken. I thought, salmonella. The fixer went with a white-cheese filling. I followed him.

The squatters had nothing. The first time I figured out some people actually had nothing was in a ditch in Afghanistan. There were four soldiers whose post was that ditch. I asked them how much money they had. I asked them to empty their pockets. Between the four of them they had absolutely no money. Zip. No 401k, no nothing. A kid on a bike brought them some rice twice a

I asked the guy in Venezuela the same question. We walked into his shack. Dirt floor, bamboo sides, zinc roof. 75-year-old guy — he too had nothing. Not a penny. He looked at me like my question was odd. He was squatting on land that belonged to a British guy worth a billion dollars. A meat baron called "Spam" by his friends. We filmed him working his field. He was in pretty good shape for a 75-year-old.

The fixer knew food. For lunch it was grilled beef, yucas, which are giant fried chunks of potato, and fried plantains, like big bananas but not as sweet. The salad was chunks of tomato, onion, cucumber and avocado. Simple and good. I kept taking the avocado.

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Thanks for reporting on Venezuela. Give as many details as you can on conditions for the people, their "mood," and what Chavez has done to a once fine country. I spent extended stays in VZ on several occasions and found it warm, friendly, peaceful, safe, and pleasurable. What Chavez has done is a shame; the country has taken several steps backwards instead of continuing to move forward. Those against Bush's foreign policy which might prevent such disasters should travel more.

— John W. (Cincinnati, OH--formerly of Knoxville)

I can identify with your Caracas airport experience. I moved to Venezuela shortly after Chavez came into power, and was transferred out after the strike that tried to take him down 2 years ago. What was a beautiful, dynamic country on the verge of entering the 1st world ...has dropped below most 3rd world countries thanks to his revolution...very sad.

— Harris

Dear Mr. Harrigan,

If you find yourself out by Puerto La Cruz - eastern coastal town, please feel free to come by for supper!

My husband and I have been here since November and boy do I miss FOX News! CNN International is a JOKE! Thank God for the internet and the FOX Web site.

— Jody (Puerto La Cruz, Edo. Anzoategui)

I am really enjoying reading your "blogs." You do a fantastic job reporting in all areas of the world, and present a very unbiased view of things.

— Gail (Overland Park, KS)


As an "old school" Tae Kwon Do instructor, I was amused by your descriptions of the Martial Arts Schools you were obviously ruling out for your niece. I admire your insight. I also enjoyed the occasional remarks about how the Martial Arts contributed to your own discipline and fortitude.


Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.