MARCH 24, 1944
CARACAS, Venezuela, Thursday—The people of Venezuela seemed very friendly. They waved and made us feel most welcome. Venezuela now has a very progressive government. They are clearing away slums and have started on a low cost housing program in the heart of the city of Caracas. They are training teachers and building new primary schools. A system of maternal and infancy care in which ladies' groups are much interested is being tried here.
The war has complicated the lives of these people because of the lack of shipping for their products. The cost of living has risen, so I imagine the poor people are having a hard time, even though wages are fairly high in oil fields and on government work, and have risen in some other occupations.
The question of granting the franchise to women is now being discussed, and I gathered at my meeting with representative groups of ladies, and afterwards when I met with the press, that this is creating a good deal of talk. One might almost say a feminist movement exists here.
After lunching at our embassy, we went to call on Madame Medina Angarita, the wife of the President of Venezuela. The President and Madame Medina Angarita received us on our arrival at Mr. Phelps' house, and that night we dined at their home.
At four o'clock we reached the headquarters of the American Society, where I met first with the ladies belonging to various organizations and answered some questions which they had prepared for me. Then I met the press, went through the building and back to our embassy for a reception for American women in Caracas. To my surprise, there must be several hundred here, which I think surprised even the ambassador!
Quite a number of our boys come to Caracas on short leaves and the American ladies have formed themselves into a committee of hostesses, instead of starting a USO. Whenever they hear that either officers or enlisted men have arrived, the acting hostess contacts the men, finds out what they'd like to do, and makes any arrangements for their entertainment. She sees that they are asked into homes to buffet suppers and dancing parties.
The women tell me they have had most appreciative letters thanking them for making the boys feel "at home" away from home. It has evidently been of great satisfaction to Americans who feel far away from the war in which many of their loved ones are involved and who want to do something to be drawn closer to the war effort.
We had nearly two hours to rest before dinner, but we really needed to rest because this column had to be written and in the morning we had to be on our way again a little after 8 o'clock.