The dream of a socialist city lies in a frail, isolated site
Families with small children fear that the walls give in because of the rain or wind and place their children's lives at risk
As soon as the first families arrived in socialist city Ciudad Caribia last August, many were overwhelmed with emotions. "Little by little, they will fix it all," was a phrase embodying the hopes of most of the new dwellers.
Nearly a year later, though many of those living in the housing complex, located 1.5 miles west of Viaduct 2 of the highway from the capital Caracas to coastal city La Guaira, are grateful for having a roof over their heads, they suffer the consequences of improvised urban planning plagued by deficient buildings and suffering from utter isolation.
Few dare to criticize the project openly. Those willing to speak up prefer to remain anonymous. In Ciudad Caribia, anyone complaining about urban issues is quickly branded as "squalid" (government's foe) and vetoed, claims Mario, based on his own experience there.
"I have opted for staying shut and have told my wife not to go to those meetings." Mario's family arrived in Ciudad Caribia on December 31, 2011. "It was like our Christmas present. We had been at La Rinconada, the worst shelter in town, for a year and four months; it is a place where there is no law." It took only seven months in the apartment for the initial excitement to turn into bitterness.
Mario's wife has witnessed how the walls in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms have begun to crack. "We are worried about those cracks in the wall, which are increasingly growing at a fast pace. They go up to the ceiling and can also be found in the corners. We are in God's hands."
Also causing much distress are the bathrooms, which are mainly built using Plycem panels, a material similar to drywall. Mario bangs his fist against the wall. "This is not safe." These fears are far from unfounded. The events that took place in Building 1, Terrace D, are still fresh in everyone's minds. In the early hours of Saturday, June 2, one of the outside walls of the apartment allocated to Maryori Martínez practically flew off as a result of strong gusts. Even the screws holding the panels together were launched into the void.
This building (Unit 1, Terrace D), as well as buildings 15 and 16, Terrace C, was entirely erected using fibrocement or Plycem panels. This material, according to renowned architect Fruto Vivas, is highly unstable and should be used only for internal walls. The exterior of Building 14, Terrace C, is also made up of Plycem, but the rest of the building is cement.
Families with small children fear that the walls give in because of the rain or wind and place their children's lives at risk. Last July 5, in Building 1, Terrace D, where the wall fell off, construction workers reinforced the structure with blocks and cement. Families whose bathrooms were built using Plycem also expect the same process. "In Building 29, many of the bathrooms are being reinforced, but workers stopped what they were doing because they had not been paid," added an unidentified man.
Many windows have detached and the exterior of certain structures, like Building 29, are suffering from chipped paint on their walls. There is a bakery shop, a school, ATM's, a hardware store in Ciudad Caribia; there also used to be a local eatery, but it went out of business. A drug store is needed as well as someone to drive the ambulance sitting in one of the parkways. Neighbors eagerly await the arrival of the Tritons, F-350 trucks that would improve transportation until the viaduct or roadwork connecting to the highway, currently underway, is completed.
Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."