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Mirelis Morales’ ‘City of Fury': A positive view of Caracas

The blogger, tweep and journalist Mirelis Morales Tovar is a “genuine caraqueña.” She was born in the Venezuelan capital and says that “although the traffic and safety problems are almost always overwhelming,” she can't imagine living anywhere else.

Mirelis runs the blog Caracas Ciudad de la Furia (Caracas City of Fury) [es], where she invites readers to describe the positive side of Caracas: experiences, places, images, flavors and sounds missed by many people who haven't taken the opportunity to get to know their city.

On her blog Mirelis describes herself [es] as a “citizen on foot, on a moto, on a bus, on the Metro and in a car.” In an interview with Global Voices, Mirelis told us:

I love the view of El Avila [a national park in Caracas] and this exceptional climate. Besides, I owe everything to this city and to my country. My family, my friends, my loves, my work, my relations… everything I am. For this, I should repay it somehow.

Mirelis took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her blog.

GV: How, when and why did Caracas Ciudad de Furia begin?

Mirelis Morales T.: Originally the blog began in September of 2009 to archive the pieces I had published in the Caracas section of the Diario El Universal [a Caracas newspaper]. But when I stopped working at the newspaper, the blog became my means to continue practicing my profession. I decided to focus on the theme of the city because it's what I had been doing and because very few people speak about Caracas from a positive angle.

So I dedicated myself to write about the city from a more constructive perspective, which would help show us its potential and to reflect on what we as citizens can do to make it more livable or less hostile.

Mirelis Morales Tovar

Mirelis Morales Tovar in Caracas. Photo: Carlos Armas.

GV: Why did you call it “Ciudad de la Furia”?

MMT: I got the sentiment from the music of [Gustavo] Cerati. And I believe there is no better phrase to describe Caracas than City of Fury. Caracas is just that: it's furious, rebellious, chaotic, unpredictable. It's a city of contrasts and contradictions. But in spite of everything, it refuses to die.

GV: Various blogs [es] focus on Caracas. What makes yours different? What do you hope to achieve with this blog?

MMT: I'm trying to show an image of Caracas beyond that of chaos, traffic and danger. Why? Because I'm convinced that Caracas is more than that. Those of us who live in the city have faith that it is. When you're capable of defying prejudices a little and you begin to walk through the city, to get to know it, to discover its curiosities, you begin to reconcile with it, to see it from another perspective. And the city will also calm down and begin to show you the best of itself.

The only way to generate a sense of belonging and identification with your city is to know it. And I believe that this is a big problem for caraqueños [people from Caracas], that they don't know their own city. Fear keeps them locked up. Because of this, I do my best to invite readers to go out, to offer them alternatives, to tell them my experience in this or that place, so that they venture out and live Caracas.

Many of the blog's readers have accepted this invitation and have shared their own experiences in Caracas by participating in Ciudad Positiva (Positive City) [es], a photo competition that Mirelis has organized since 2010. On November 4, 2010, Mirelis wrote:

Our proposed challenge was to focus our gaze –if only for a minute- on a friendly side of the city. On that thing -natural or constructed- that characterizes us as the capital city or that differentiates Caracas from all other cities in the world.

Photos from the 2010 and 2011 editions can be found on Flickr.

GV: Tell us a little more about the photo contest Ciudad Positiva.

MMT: In addition to being a blogger I also tweet. While on Twitter, I noticed that people love to post photos of Caracas and I thought that maybe I could use the blog to promote a contest to choose the best photos and to disseminate them in another format. This is how I came up with the idea of creating notebooks of Caracas with the winning images. Why notebooks? Because it seemed to me that they would be a good way to carry the best of the city with you or to exchange it with others.

The contest has had three editions. And each year we have a different theme. The first year, we showed what characterizes Caracas; the second, its people; and the third, its colors. Every edition we have added more allies who believe in a positive city and we hope to have an open-air exhibition to share our vision of the city.

GV: What's in store for Caracas Ciudad de la Furia in 2013?

MMT: I would love to be able to change the blog's image. I've already begun to move to WordPress. I would like to create a logo. Essentially, to make it more professional. I want to include information that will be useful for people visiting Caracas, since the city lacks maps or guides. Thanks to the blog I've been in contact with people from Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica and Chile who have written to me asking for recommendations about the city. With that in mind, I would like to make the blog a little more formal and offer more alternatives.

GV: Do you have any advice for bloggers writing about cities?

MMT: To keep their eyes open. A city is a living being that always has something to offer. To look without prejudice. To be open to trying new things. I believe that every city has good things to offer. And it is good to be critical, but always with a constructive vision. To be a blogger is also to be a public servant.

Mirelis has received various acknowledgements for her blog. In 2010, she received the Premio Arturo Uslar Pietri del Colegio Nacional de Periodistas [Arturo Uslar Pietri Prize from the National School of Journalists] for “best web site” [es], and the “Caracas through a journalist's eyes” -mention in online category- award granted by the Caracas Chamber of Commerce. This year, the mayor of Baruta gave her a “Citizen Values” [es] award for promoting civic coexistence.

Follow Mirelis and her blog on Twitter (@mi_mo_to).

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