Chavez’ New Folly: Fitting another Caracas within Caracas

January 25, 2011


If there is something this Government has failed to do, is to plan ahead. In the Electric sector, as an example, planning was terrible, after canceling some hydro-electric projects that were in the pipeline, nothing else was planned to replace it. While the decision to cancel these projects could be justified, not finding alternatives to it was.

The same can be said about many things. Decisions are made, but implications and alternatives are not considered. Crime grows, but little is done to fix the problems at jails, or even to improve jails or the judicial system. Housing is similar, as the Government has been more and more incompetent on the housing front, the plans have been set aside until the floods hit in December and Chavez decided to make housing a priority, a dangerous strategy given that he is unlikely to have anything to show for it by election time in December 2012.

And then we come to Caracas. A mess of a city under the combination of no major roads built in twelve years, unchecked crime and low gasoline prices. This has created a hostile city, where people spend four to five hours commuting, the subway does not work, public transport is a mess and there are traffic jams late at night and now even on weekends.

Nothing has been done for Caracas on most fronts during the long twelve Chavez years. The President has said that he did not emphasize roads and highways, because he had other priorities. I disagree with that viewpoint, but it is a valid one.

But there can be no justification then to now want to attract people to Caracas. It is true that people will continue flocking to Caracas no matter what the Government does to stop them, but hey, please, just don’t promote it.

But that is exactly what the Venezuelan President is doing. Last weekend he spelled it out when he said:

“We can fit another Caracas within Caracas”

A true folly by the Venezuelan President. Caracas is collapsing. Traffic gets worse, the subway gets worse, the water problems get worse, electrical problems get worse, crime gets worse, unemployment gets worse,  sewage problems get worse and yes, there is even flooding in Caracas, so why would Chavez want to fit another Caracas within Caracas?

Because he discovered that the housing problem is glamorous and may just be what tips him over the top in 2012.

Which is stupid, because even if he started one housing project today (which ain’t happening) it will be difficult to have it finished by the end of 2012. He can bring Chinese, Belorussian, Turkish or whatever housing experts, but even if they can build houses instantly, they still have to provide services to it, including water, electricity and sewage, as well as digging foundations and getting permits, which are not going to go away because Chavez says so.

It is not that Hugo is out of touch, he definitely is, but this is simply that he keeps jumping from one of his inventions to the other because he thinks it will gain him popularity. Never mind experts, studies or problems, Hugo’s creativity has no limits, only those of his twisted mind.

But the problem in the end is that you can’t just move people into the city, least of all Chavez’ folly of doubling the population, without a commensurate increase in the infrastructure, including all the basics, until then forget it, you will turn a very disagreeable city into Hell.

Even if it seems like that is what they have been trying to do all along…

26 Responses to “Chavez’ New Folly: Fitting another Caracas within Caracas”

  1. Johnny Says:

    the man is loony and this was evident from before day one! I guess most of the population must be loony too to support such a lunatic 12 years, what else can we say, they deserve each other! sad! it happens

  2. A_Antonio Says:

    I believe the phrase applies: “We all really big enough in home, and then the grandmothers begin to get pregnant and get birth.”

  3. Kepler Says:

    Thanks to write about this. The guy first wanted to send people just like that to the Llanos. Then he wanted to build houses in some of the few green valleys still in the North Central area. As people would not move, he just wants to let the Chinese and the Belorussians and the Russians build flats in the middle of an over-crowded Caracas. I read an article in the Russian press about the greatest beneficiary of the Fuerte Tiuna flats: it’s the 6th richest man on Earth, a Russian magnate.

    Miguel, I think Chavez can plan ahead very well but only for one single thing: how to play the political game. He would not be able to plan ahead for a canteen in the Llanos.

  4. Maria Says:

    I thought he was going to build a “Caracas with Caracas” to move into it the people who are already living there, in the slums.

  5. moctavio Says:

    Some of the invaders last weekend came from outside Caracas.

  6. Caraqueño Says:

    The Reason the Mico tells the people to come to Caracas is for the simple reason that it it is much easier for him: It already exists and is every venezuelan’s apiration to move there anyways! Even if caracas is falling apart, it is always easier than to have to build a new city Here all he has to do to give his supporters housing is say the magic/tragic word, “Expropiese”…

    Sad. Like venezuela…

  7. PB Says:

    Even with exceptional project management and planning that falls into place the problem of infrastructure will take years. When this whole sorry episode of Chavez is over it will take decades to sift through the rubble and find some green roots.

    Very very sad for all Venezuela.

  8. Kepler Says:

    Mírenlo de esta manera: Hugo paga a los rusos y chinos y bielorrusos para que construyan casas. Al menos unas 10 mil personas van allá antes del 2012. Esas serán 10 mil x 2 que él quiere usar de escudo o de tropas de ataque cuando pierda las elecciones.

    There are no electricity problems in Caracas as elsewhere. He wants the people around His Palace to be with him.
    We should be challenging him to use the petrodollars to build houses in Calabozo, in Barinas, in El Tigre, in Morón

  9. Juan Cristobal Says:

    “The President has said that he did not emphasize roads and highways, because he had other priorities. I disagree with that viewpoint, but it is a valid one.”

    It is only a valid point if we expect the government to provide everything. As it turns out, the world has advanced, and governments are no longer responsible for road building. Look at all the private highways built in Chile, Brazil, and Mexico, for example.

    Chavez’s excuse is no excuse at all. It’s only his obstinacy and his resolute aversion to the private sector that has caused Venezuelans to be stuck in traffic for five hours at a time. You shouldn’t be so lenient on him.

  10. moctavio Says:

    Well, it was more elaborate than that. He said that he did not want to spend money in roads in Caracas, because then more people would flock to it. As I said I disagree with that…there is no plan, clearly

  11. Daveed Says:

    Whatever happened to La Ciudad de los Indios?
    http://i55.tinypic.com/148ivlf.jpg

  12. moctavio Says:

    Same thing that will happen to the 150,000 houses Chavez is going to build in 2011, forgotten in oblivion.

  13. m_astera Says:

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011
    Pathocracy: Tyranny at the Hand of Psychopaths
    Jack Mullen
    Activist Post

    ” In a pathocracy, all leadership positions, (down to village headman and community cooperative managers, not to mention the directors of police units, and special services police personnel, and activists in the pathocratic party) must be filled by individuals with corresponding psychological deviations, which are inherited as a rule. However, such people constitute a very small percentage of the population and this makes them more valuable to the pathocrats. Their intellectual level or professional skills cannot be taken into account, since people representing superior abilities (who are also psychopaths) are even harder to find. After such a system has lasted several years, one hundred percent of all the cases of essential psychopathy are involved in pathocratic activity; they are considered the most loyal, even though some of them were formerly involved on the other side in some way.



    Under such conditions, no area of social life can develop normally, whether in economics, culture, science, technology, administration, etc. Pathocracy progressively paralyzes everything. Normal people must develop a level of patience beyond the ken of anyone living in a normal man’s system just in order to explain what to do and how to do it to some obtuse mediocrity of a psychological deviant who has been placed in charge of some project that he cannot even understand, much less manage. This special kind of pedagogy – instructing deviants while avoiding their wrath – requires a great deal of time and effort, but it would otherwise not be possible to maintain tolerable living conditions and necessary achievements in the economic area or intellectual life of a society. Even with such efforts, pathocracy progressively intrudes everywhere and dulls everything. [...]

 ”

    http://www.activistpost.com/2011/01/pathocracy-tyranny-at-hand-of.html

    Suggested reading.

  14. loroferoz Says:

    I really wonder if he has the attention span of a goldfish, or if he imagines that Venezuelans have such an attention span.

    I am still under the same impression as before:

    This kind of “policy”, this quality of Presidential behavior used to happen to places of the world people ran away from. Places that had never been Republics and that now were called “Socialist People’s Democratic” Republic of Tyranny. Places that suffered civil war every Thursday and a coup every Friday.

    How come we have elected the crassest caudillo we could find? Was it really that Venezuela was Fourth World and we the educated minority missed something? Was it that Venezuelans were divided into mutually hostile tribes? Or that two of every three infants did not make it to childhood?

    Was it all oil that made for such a good illusion? If that’s the case, the facade is going to fall off, because the people responsible for oil have been run out of the country.

    I hope that we are just going through a bad phase, like Europeans did in the first half of the 20th. Century.

    Like m_astera said: It’s pathocracy.

  15. maria gonzalez Says:

    I can remember where I saw it. But in a pro-Chavista blog they show some houses build by the government. The point is that they explain that the water for the tanks was transported in trucks. So people had to pay for the water truck only $4/week or a month.
    i this a good plan, water been transported by trucks?. It this common in Venezuela? So they build the houses but they do not provide appropriate infrastructure. I wonder what do they do with the sewage system.

  16. maria gonzalez Says:

    Sorry I meant I can’t remember

  17. moses Says:

    Miguel:

    Slightly off topic…. Check General Vivas Isla del terror (Island of Terror) in english:

    http://losescritosdelgeneralvivasp.blogspot.com/2011/01/island-of-terror.html

  18. Speed Gibson Says:

    Chinese, Belorussian, Turkish or whatever housing experts……. doesnt Venz have any experts on anything? musty you import everything and skills?

    one good inevitable earthquake will cleanse the Caracas (and San Francisco) problem once and for all

    Hugo is rewarding the reproductive classes….not the productive one

  19. island canuck Says:

    Chavez manipulates the ignorance of his followers.

  20. island canuck Says:

    To show how crazy this guy is:
    http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2011/01/25/chavez-el-enfoque-fundamental-del-socialismo-es-satisfacer-las-necesidades-humanas/

    Chavez calls on private businessmen to build housing.

    Let me get this straight – He expropriates left, right & center & then doesn’t pay for the properties.

    He passes a law that forbids builders from charging increases for inflation & then fines & threatens those that due.

    He passes laws that make it impossible to evict tenants that don’t pay.

    He encourages invasions of constructed buildings with organized groups that arrive in luxury cars & buses.

    And in this environment he wants builders to invest?? He’s 100% crazy!

    And now he’s upset that people are calling him a dictator. See CCs blog today.

  21. island canuck Says:

    Wish I could edit posts:
    “He passes a law that forbids builders from charging increases for inflation & then fines & threatens those that do”

  22. Deanna Says:

    Speed Gibson,

    Of course they have housing experts in Venezuela. I remember the time when affordable housing was built by the Fundacion Mendoza and they experimented with Viposa houses. What happened to those ideas, I don’t know. And if Chavez really wanted to build cheap housing for “el pueblo”, he should ask his friend Carter on the type of housing that he and other people voluntarily build during the summer through an NGO that he started.

  23. Susan Says:

    Meanwhile Hugo gets into fiber:
    Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — A pricing dispute between the U.S. and Cuba may have cost American companies including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc a foothold in the communist island’s recently opened telecommunications market.

    Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent SA on Jan. 22 began laying a 1,600-kilometer (1,000-mile) underwater fiber-optic cable between Venezuela and the city of Siboney on Cuba’s southeastern coast. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez heralded the subsea link as a way to break the half-century-old U.S. “blockade” of Cuba.

    U.S. companies had been backing a separate venture by Miami-based TeleCuba Communications Inc, which said it was granted a license to build a 110-mile link from Key West, Florida, to Havana after President Barack Obama in 2009 loosened the U.S. trade embargo for phone service providers. The project has been delayed over the Federal Communications Commission’s refusal to accept price demands by President Raul Castro’s government for routing calls.

    “This is a huge missed opportunity,” said Chris Sabatini, senior policy director at the New York-based Council of the Americas, a business group. “If you can get into a market early on, you can control it all along the value chain.”

    Cuba’s population of 11.4 million could become the largest telecom market in the Caribbean, topping Puerto Rico’s $1.6 billion market, according to Pyramid Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Even if the market remains mostly closed, annual revenue could still reach $400 million by 2013 from the current $80 million, Pyramid said.

    ‘Decrease Dependency’

    In an April 2009 memorandum, Obama, 49, directed the U.S. government to allow companies to provide communications services to Cuba, saying it would “decrease dependency of the Cuban people on the Castro regime.”

    Five months later, TeleCuba said it was awarded a license by the Treasury Department, which oversees enforcement of the embargo, to build a fiber-optic cable. At the time, TeleCuba said it hoped to have the $18 million high-speed link operational by the second quarter of 2011. The company, which sells calling cards to Cuban-Americans, also wants to provide roaming service in Cuba for U.S.-based cell phones.

    To move forward on the project, TeleCuba’s vice president for public relations, Lilibeth Gonzalez, said it is “imperative” the FCC waive rules setting a maximum rate of 60 cents per minute that a U.S. provider can pay Cuba for connecting calls. TeleCuba, in an FCC filing, requested the rate be boosted to 84 cents per minute.

    “We filed a petition for waiver with the FCC in March 2010 that we believe is directly in line with Obama’s directives,” Gonzalez said in an e-mailed statement. “While we have been waiting, the Venezuelan government has been diligently working on its own fiber-optic project.”

    AT&T, Verizon

    Dallas-based AT&T and New York-based Verizon have both supported TeleCuba’s petition. In a filing submitted to the FCC in June, Verizon’s lawyers argued that the waiver would “facilitate a greater exchange of information and increased communications by allowing domestic carriers to investigate the re-establishment of a relationship with Cuban providers and/or the construction of potential facilities on the United States- Cuba route.”

    Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, declined in an interview to comment. Verizon spokeswoman Linda Laughlin said the company doesn’t offer any direct services to Cuba. Two press officers at the FCC didn’t return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

    ‘Gold Mine’

    Cuba, which will have the last remaining state-run telecommunications monopoly in Latin America after private companies start operating in Costa Rica this year, has the lowest mobile-phone penetration in the region, according to the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union.

    As recently as 2008, there were between 20,000 and 30,000 mobile phones on the Caribbean island, most of them owned by foreign diplomats and senior Cuban officials. That has grown to 800,000 since the 79-year-old Raul Castro in 2008 lifted a ban on most people owning them, according to the Cuba Study Group, which is made up of U.S. businesses that support more open commercial ties with Cuba.

    “Cuba is the gold mine everyone is after in Latin America,” Jose Magana, a senior analyst at Pyramid, said in a phone interview. “Pressure will build on the U.S. government to let U.S. companies participate in the opening of Cuba’s market.”

    Bandwidth in Cuba can reach a maximum of about 2 megabytes per second, compared with a U.S. average of 5 megabytes and more than 12 megabytes in South Korea, Magana said.

    Cuban state phone company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., or Etecsa, has a monopoly on all fixed-line and mobile services. Milan-based Telecom Italia SpA has a 27 percent stake in the Havana-based company.

    Chavez’s Help

    The 56-year-old Chavez calls former President Fidel Castro, 84, a father figure and sends about 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba. On Jan. 15 he said that the new link will bring the countries even closer and benefit private Venezuelan companies.

    Obama’s easing of telecommunications restrictions toward Cuba ”did not go far enough” and contains ”contradictory” elements, said Tomas Bilbao, executive director of the Cuba Study Group.

    “No U.S. company has found it attractive to try to make that type of investment,” Bilbao said in a phone interview, adding that improvements in connectivity will make it more difficult for the Cuban government to justify restrictions on Internet freedom. “The void left by U.S. sanctions has provided a perfect opportunity for Hugo Chavez to save the day.”

    To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net. Blake Schmidt in Granada, Nicaragua at bschmidt16@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

  24. Roberto N Says:

    Matter of fact, Deanna, there are still some of those VIPOSA houses around! There are even some “modulos”, the roundish ones, in use.

  25. Deanna Says:

    Roberto,

    Are they the ones built in the ’70s or are they recent ones?

  26. liz Says:

    Deanna,
    they are old ones. Some people have made great renovations. Others look like frozen in time. I like one especially: it has been painted and decorated -outside- and looks like a small fairytale cottage.


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