EDITOR'S NOTE: Since May 26, Adam Housley has been covering the turmoil in Venezuela, ignited by President Chavez's decision to shut down a popular television station that opposed the Socialist government. FNC has been on the scene since the station's closing, and subsequent protests.
Here are Adam's final entries of his experience — please click here for Adam's Reporter's Notebook that details each day of the rallies.
• E-mail Adam with questions — then, check out the questions he already answered below.
12:52 p.m.: We have just left Simon Bolivar International Airport outside of Caracas. Unlike our arrival 11 days ago, the sun shines bright and we can catch a great glimpse of the dramatic ranges that seem to plunge from thousands of feet into the turquoise blue waters of the sea. The hills are carpeted with green jungle and periodically, reddish orange villages grow out of inclines that seem impossible to hold their foundations.
People in the airport and on the plane are all talking about what lies ahead for Venezuela. There are theories, hopes, and more questions than answers. One thing I can mention now that we have left is some of the interesting opposition to the protests actually comes from people in the U.S.
On official Venezuelan radio, and in a couple of other instances, people have claimed that somehow the international press was reporting false information — even President Chavez and some of his ministers claimed as such. The fact is, the marches and rallies opposing the so-called socialist reforms came from within Venezuela and were happening whether we were there or not.
The rallies came not only from thousands of students, but teachers, doctors, lawyers and others who walked out of their work and joined the fight for freedom. Their rights are systematically being taken away. The government is confiscating privately owned businesses; political opponents are being arrested and/or threatened.
Supporters of Chavez, who are intent on imposing hatred against America throughout Latin America, will sugar coat it any way they can. They are either benefiting, or are now part of, the Socialist elite.
Chavez has already set the possibility of changing the Venezuelan constitution so that a president in his country can eventually serve for more than two terms. Opponents believe he is setting himself up as a dictator by forcing these "new revolutionary policies" upon his people.
Despite the forced support for Chavez and the support from the ones he basically pays, he does have followers. I have had viewers back in the states ask me, "Why?"
There is no simple answer, but opponents of Chavez can basically agree on this point: in the past, Venezuela's government has dealt with corruption and many in the countryside saw an elite class seemingly get everything. In some cases, that is true and Chavez plays that point hard in his campaigns to stay in power.
It is also clear Chavez will continue to bash America and Europe as "modern imperialists" — it's his way of creating an enemy that gets people's minds off the problems he has at home.
1:13 p.m.: This entry isn't so much about the political struggle in Venezuela. It's my last one for this trip and it relates to the people.
I was told 10 years ago that the people in Venezuela were welcoming, friendly and enjoyed everyone. In most countries I go to, I have been lucky to find them and Venezuela are not so different.
Sure, we were threatened, or in some cases an attempt to offend us at a Chavista rally was made, but overall, even some of the hard core Chavistas smiled when we spoke with them. They have been bombarded with propaganda about how America hates Venezuela, or even the absurdity that we want to invade them. But almost everyone welcomed us and other members of the foreign media — it's basically the last coverage that isn't controlled by the government.
The person who told me about Venezuela ten years ago was Domingo Carrasquel, a teammate of mine in the minor leagues — he was a spry switch hitting short stop. His father and uncle are famous baseball players in Latin America since the late 1950s.
He always told me if I made it to his country, I better visit. Even through the chaotic protests I thought of him. I finally found a way to get his number and heard the sad news from his father. Domingo and his wife died recently in a car crash in Venezuela.
Of course I am sad, but this amazing guy, with a broad smile and thin build, was exactly right about his country. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
His father is strong and so is his family, but his memory will forever be ingrained in my mind as will his descriptions, our experiences and the battle for democracy that continues in Latin America.
Adam Answers Your Questions
Hi, thanks for the coverage from FNC on Hugo Chavez. You are doing a great job, but be careful. My son visited Venezuela two years ago. We had friends who were exchange teachers there. I knew then it was a dangerous place. Chavez is in the same camp as the socialist including Putin. Thanks again. — Linda (Jackson, CA)
ADAM: Linda, Thanks so much for your concern. While there are places and times that Venezuela is dangerous, the people are very welcoming. Much of the danger and hatred towards Americans, Europeans and even Mexicans, comes from Chavez himself. He warns of invasions, claims President Bush supports genocide and tells his people that Americans don't like Venezuela. It's absurd to you and I, but some people have been drowned with these lies since 1998.
Adam, Thank God for your bravery and love of freedom to be in the situation you are in now. FNC is the only network to actively pursue the truth. Keep up the good work. Some of us Americans really do appreciate the truth rather than the politically correct sound bites we get on the other networks. If I see one more Che Guevara T-shirt, I think I'll scream. — Steve (Laredo, TX)
ADAM: Steve, Based in Los Angeles I have seen my share of Che shirts worn by the Hollywood crowd. I wonder if people have actually read about his background and some of things he did. As for telling this story, despite the lies spewed by Chavez supporters here in the U.S., we aired video, interviews and pictures from every Chavista rally. It is our duty and while we weren't generally welcome there, we'd do it again.
Dear Adam, Thanks so much for bringing the truth about the so-called Chavez revolution. As a Venezuelan-American in North Carolina, I just wanted to say that your reports are so accurately describing how Chavez is destroying of what is left of Venezuela's democracy. The whole world needs to see the true Dictator that Chavez is. Keep up the good work … you and your crew are doing a hell of job! You guys be safe. We are watching every one of your reports!" — Javier (Charlotte, NC)
ADAM: Javier, The destruction comes in small calculated steps. I am told one of the next steps will be to change the Venezuelan constitution to allow the President more than two terms. Chavez has already quietly begun that process and since he controls the government, this change is very likely.
Adam, I want to thank you for putting yourself on the line to cover this. Keep your head down and be safe — at least as safe as possible. I would think soon the government will turn its attention to the journalist covering this and things will get hairy. — Bernie
ADAM: Bernie, Thanks for your concerns. President Chavez is mostly threatening Latin journalist organizations and a small cable station in this country. He claims Globovision is enticing people to riot, so the government may arrest the stations owners and anchors. If that happens ALL media, small and large, will be under government control or pressure.
Adam, thanks so much for being our voice. As you accurately describe in your blog, right now our only way to tell and know the truth is through Internet or cable and sometimes Globovisión. Bless you! — Gema
ADAM: Gema, You are right and see my response to Bernie.
Dear Adam, Those gold lights you are talking about on your report on the FOX News Web site are so very close to where I am. I also see those lights every night when I look out the windows. Those people same as myself we do NOT support the yanking of the television station of our preference off the air. I am another of those women who live in a poor neighborhood and have to struggle day after day to keep alive in this country. There is no respect for the human life from this government. They refer to us as the sovereign, as the real owners of the country but only if you wear the red T-shirt and red cap, I do not support this dictator. He says that they would connect again to the air the TV station they 'CLOSED' if the people from the hillsides and the poor people would protest, but the government 'supports' subversive groups to keep people from protesting. All these past nights I have been doping 'cacerolazo' which is to make noise with empty pots and pans in signal of discomfort on what is happening, and those 'chavista' supported groups do light our windows with huge reflectors and also point their guns toward the windows of those who do 'cacerolazo' and video tape us to then later call us and let us know they 'saw us' as a way to intimidate us. Please help Venezuela by telling the world what is happening here in Venezuela, since the local TV channels can't do it anymore, since the dictator already threaten the only channel we got allied to us, Globovision, to close them if they kept informing on what was happening here. — Morella
ADAM: Morella, Your e-mail should be required reading for all doubters of President Chavez's hard-line control.
Dear Adam, You are doing a fantastic job! FOX News is the only new station that I have seen this story and it is so important. Are there any other media outlets in Caracas covering the protests? My prayers are with the Venezuelans as well as with you and your staff. Take care and keep up the great work! — Paula (Austin, TX)
ADAM: Paula, There are a significant number of Latin American stations, but seemingly not many from the U.S. These outlets are all the Venezuelan people have to get out their story and now the international media has been threatened by Chavez.
What's the likelihood that the citizens will be so upset about the shutting sown of RCTV that they overthrow Chavez? — James (La Grange, TX)
ADAM: James, The next few days will tell the tale. Right now the Chavez government couldn't have imagined such a massive turnout. I am told this protest is different because his traditional opposition parties are not leading the charge. This opposition is students, professionals and all walks of life. I am curious how harshly Chavez will respond.
Please be careful! We pray for your safety through the mayhem. I hope the citizens of Venezuela send the message to President Chavez that going to a foreign country and handing out free gas vouchers to the poor for propaganda doesn't make your country back home — the one you run — a democratic society. — Denise (Florida)
ADAM: Denise, Thanks so much for your concerns; we will be fine. The people of Venezuela are amazing and extremely supportive of the United States. Like many around the globe they see the hypocrisy and totalitarian nature of Chavez. Problem for them … they are living it first hand.
You guys are doing a great job of reporting the truth in Venezuela. Chavez reminds me of Panama's Noriega, before we overthrew him in his own country. Continue to report on what you are seeing in Caracas — the whole world needs to know about Chavez's tactics. Take care of yourself, stay out of harm's way ... those squads do not care if you are a international correspondent. — Velasquez Jr.
ADAM: The Chavez tactics are very similar to so many hard-line leaders in other parts of the globe. Noriega was missing one thing that Chavez has ... oil and the money that comes from it. Oil has been a big factor in keeping him in power and a strong support from the military.
Hi Adam, thanks for your live coverage of Venezuela's ongoing protests. A couple of questions: If the people of Venezuela, like many around the globe, see the "hypocrisy and totalitarian nature of Chavez," as you wrote, then why did they re-elect him less six months ago? Also, if polls show that, "80 percent of [Venezuela] watches and supports RCTV," as you wrote, and Chavez went ahead and yanked the situation to great condemnation (including your own), then can we use the same logic to condemn other politicians who pursue policies widely rejected by their countrymen, like the case of the Iraq War in the U.S.? Might that be another instance of "hypocrisy and totalitarian" rule? Thanks in advance for your reply. I look forward to more of your dispatches. — Alejandro (Northampton, MA)
ADAM: Alejandro, You can paint the picture any way you want it. The fact is, I believe in freedom. In the United States, you can speak out against President Bush, Iraq, taxes anything you want. Here, you'll be shot or put in prison ... or gassed like we were.
Hi Adam, My name is Analia. I live with my husband in Oklahoma. I'm originally from Argentina, South America, and I've been glued to the TV since all this ordeal with the TV station in Caracas began. I'm watching FOX right now, and I've been online with friends all over the world, that are from back home, and we are all concerned about Venezuela's people. Since Chavez got his power, he has been slowly turning the country into his lil communist kingdom. The more pictures I see the more things I hear from people there it gives me the creeps. It gives me horrible de ja vu of what we lived in Argentina in the 70s with the"facto" government and the dictatorship we were under. The National Guard, the big police trucks shooting water on people, rubber bullets, tear gas ... it's just the same deal in a different country. We are gonna be praying home for you all. Please be safe and stay safe. We really need more people like you'all to tell the world the truth of the matter. My heart goes out to the Venezuelans, the ones that protest, and the ones that are beguiled by Chavez. Again Adam, please,please,be safe. — Analia
ADAM: Thank you so much for your concern and for taking such an interest in an important story like this one. We will be fine, because we have a great crew and some amazing local friends. Chavez and some of his friends around the globe will say, do and claim anything to stay in power.
Adam Housley joined FOX News Channel in 2001 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. Most recently, Housley reported from President Ford's funeral. He also reported from Nicaragua and El Salvador on the war against drugs and scored an exclusive interview with Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega. You can read his full bio here.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.