Plan Caracas 2020: There is Some Planning and Thinking in Venezuela

October 13, 2011

Last week I was in Caracas and a very good friend visited me, a well-known architect who works in the Alcaldia Metropolitana. He brought me a very nice gift, not so much for the gift itself , but because it gave me a sense of renewed optimism about the future. What he gave me was a copy of the Strategic Plan for Caracas 2020: The city we want to build.

This is the work of the Alcaldia Metropolitana, presided by Antonio Ledezma and the other municipalities, together with a whole bunch of volunteers. The material I got has two maps, today’s map of Caracas and the plan of what is required or the objectives for the city in 2020. This is the map I show above, it was a large map, so I took a picture with my phone to be able to show it to you.

The plan has general and specific goals. Some qualitative, some quantitative. Things it wants changed. Parks needed. Some things are ambitious, like removing private security to public streets.Others are controversial, like converting the golf courses in Country Club and Valle Arriba into parks.

But it is clear that people have been planning and thinking. Discussing things. Quite a change from what we have seen in the last twelve years.

I will not bore you with the details, but you can look up the website of Plan Caracas 2020, They have a Facebook page: PlanCaracas2020. They tweet: @plancaracas2020 or you can write to them if you like or don’t like something at plancaracas202@imutc. The text with the update of the plan is here.

The whole thing is like the fresh air Caracas needs, an organized group of people thinking and planning, experts and professionals in the relevant fields, not ignorant captains with no clue about what they are doing. Hopefully all Mayors of the municipalities of Caracas in 2013 will be from opposition parties, so that this plan can become a reality.

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99 Responses to “Plan Caracas 2020: There is Some Planning and Thinking in Venezuela”

  1. Carolina Says:

    Sure I know Habitat for Humanity. It’s such a fantastic organization. One of the things I like the most is that they take used fixtures, kitchen cabinets, doors, that are in good condition and reuse them in their buildings. People here have an obsession with updating, so a lot of these item end up in the dumpster which is a shame. I have donated a couple of things from our sites.

    Now take a look at this map. Venezuela is not a place where they build. I suppose it has to do with the anti-imperialist speech of the government, which is a shame. So many people could benefit from it (think damnificados..)

    http://www.habitat.org/intl/maps/lac_eng.aspx

    Another one that I like and I eventually would eventually like to help is Architecture for Humanity. They do other things than housing.

    http://architectureforhumanity.org/

    Regarding the water issues, I don’t really know much about the system. I think most of the problem has to do that it relies on rain and the level of the water reservoirs among other things. I am not sure it’s only about careless consumption considering that the slum constitute a big part of the city and they don’t have running water.

    Regarding the rich houses, as far as I know, there is no restriction as how big your water tank is, so if you have the money to build a humongous tank, why not? In fact, I have seen the size of the water tanks as a selling feature of houses, so maybe it’s true.

  2. firepigette Says:

    Carolina,

    “one proposal is to reduce water consumption 20% by 2020”

    Perhaps you can inform me…..Water consumption in Caracas always seemed to me to be rationed at least for some weeks yearly as it was…at least before I left in 2002.For those who live in buildings or Quintas on the hills, there was a chronic lack of water.We had very little water pressure to extract the water from the street, and simply had to have water trucks come and fill our tank on occasion.I was told( don’t know if it was true), that the rich Mendozas who lived behind our house had some sort of powerful machine that siphoned most of the incoming water for themselves.This of course could have been paranoia, and I never found anyone to whom I could inquire or report…..typical 😦

    Also I did see an enormous amount of water waste due to broken pipes that were left unrepaired sometimes indefinitely.

    By the way I enjoyed the link you posted on improving the barrios in the hills.

    I don’t know if you are privy to an org called : Habitat for Humanity ?

  3. Carolina Says:

    Miguel, I read the plan and took a closer look to the photo.
    They identify problems (which is good), they set a target to fix them by 2020 but I couldn’t find any specific way on how they plan to do it. Maybe it’s too soon into the game but I must say I was underwhelmed.
    It reminded me the Venezuela Bonita plan of LL. We all know what we want, we are all optimistic and happy and smily, but nobody says how to actually achieve that.
    For instance, one proposal is to reduce water consumption 20% by 2020 because Caracas uses more water than the rest of latin american cities or something like that. Uh? Really?
    Caracas problems are not new. They have been there for years, just got bigger. I was expecting something deeper.

  4. CharlesC Says:

    Everyone -are we becoming a “Green Party”- I think we are!
    Chavez is/was red. We are greeeeeeennnnn!
    And, isn’t this wonderful? I have a copy of the
    “Green Party Platform” [USA]in my hand (and had dinner tonight
    with the author )- think about it. I think most of you
    are “already there” icluding myself…

    • Kepler Says:

      Charles,

      I am not sure…there are Green parties and Green parties. I am now not very please with the Green party in Belgium…I follow news from Germany as well and I find the Green party there much better prepared, with better and more realistic plans for sustainable development in every sense. I don’t know much about the US Green party, but I once watched a couple of youtube videos and in one of them one of their leaders was very much on a mood of conspiracy theory believer (I think it was about 11 9 2001).
      Perhaps it’s because the Germans developed their Green party first it has had more time to mature

      • CharlesC Says:

        Kepler, I do know this fellow writes articles against war, for example. But, I know nothing about 9-11 from Greens. He also writes about environmental issues..
        Anyway- many people everywhere are becoming more green, I think so.
        At the same time -so many of these type issues cause many people to
        react negatively- for example -fuel efficiency, etc.
        Probably the surest way to lose a political race would to be “the environmental
        candidate”….

        • firepigette Says:

          Charles I could happily embrace more green party myself, but many here are ideologues who ignore important economic realities, which if ignored could end up making green irrelevant if you know what I mean….in any plan, whether it be macro or micro one must understand how to compromise in order not to create more problems than one fixes.Here in the US there are some pretty nutty things going on with the greens : who almost appear to have inherited the New England -Yankee -Puritanical tone of the dour doctrinaire.It certainly has its place, but only in context.

  5. Carolina Says:

    *what* about this, I meant.

  6. firepigette Says:

    Carolina, You seem to know a great deal about this kind of stuff…..I send you this article about The French wanting to help clean up the rio Guaire…don’t know how feasible this is, as you say:

    http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=345052&CategoryId=10717

    CharlesC, thanks…I guess I am a bit of a dreamer and definitely not an engineer.My daughter swears I am the reincarnation of Beatrix Potter because I love nature and my imagination does tend to soar.When I see Caracas in my mind’s eye, I see its potential, its essence and its beauty….now if the engineers can just make it a reality 🙂

    • Carolina Says:

      Thanks for the link. Any effort to clean it it’s great and it will help, except that I really believe the damage it’s irreversible.
      Who about this – I heard this idea many years ago – instead of trying to clean it, how about covering it, turn it into an enclosed sewer, and build a park and plazas over it.
      If you think about it, it’s not such a bad idea and it will also help integrating the north with the south.

      • firepigette Says:

        in theory sounds nice, but what about all the accidents on the highway that are now falling into the rio guaire? would they then fall on folks in the park?

  7. Carolina Says:

    Take a look at this:

    http://dirt.asla.org/2011/07/21/redefining-urban-design-in-caracas/

    A nice example of tackling one of the biggest problems – the slums – and making them more humane.

  8. firepigette Says:

    Half Empty,

    I am no expert on the founding of Caracas, but I will attempt to describe the climate.It is mostly Spring like all year round.Dec.is like the cooler part of spring(maybe 60’s) and then later around Holy week it is more like the hottest of spring weathers, perhaps even summery….high 80’s and 90’s…though it never gets that humid like the Atlantic coast….nor does it ever reach the high temperatures we get here in NC in August.Basically you can survive without air conditioning quite easily.

    The nights are sometimes cool, reminding one a bit of deserty climes…a sweater is often needed.During the rainy season it tends to rain once a day, but in torrents, often flash flooding.

    The mornings are its crown and glory,sun rises like a blast very early infused with the hues and tones of some imaginary heaven.At this timeThe Avila appears made with an almost inner light that lifts the spirits and makes all problems disappear as fast as they arise.The Avila will look very green in the rainy season, the brown in the dry season, with occasional fires.

    Tropical birds visit your garden daily, and wild life is abundant…mostly snakes, lizards, iguana, exotic birds and sloths.The River that runs through Caracas is almost a zoo for Iguanas….and I agree with Carolina how wonderful it would be to clean it up and make it usable as part of a park….I have in mind a certain park in South Florida as a role model.

    It’s a hilly city in parts, and most of it has a view of a tall and beautiful mountain called the Avila.

    Caracas is a very alive place, not at all quiet, unless you live on top of one of the hills in the East where I did…..Each day in residential areas criers walk around selling their wares,” Zapatero, Zapatero….” or some other service.

    The only imperfection I experienced( and I am way too sensitive) was that as cheerful as the morning was, the afternoon was sad.It seemed as though a shadow fell on us from the Avila, and I could palpably feel the dying of the day.But all in all, its natural blessings give it the potential of being one of the most beautiful cities on Earth.

    • Carolina Says:

      FP – I loved your description of the city. It made me smile and almost gave me the blues. It’s true that the Avila it’s precious, good thing it was declared national park right on time, if not it will be filled with ranchos.
      I also appreciate your love for the city, specially because you didn’t grow up there and yet, you learned to love it.
      But I disagree with you that Caracas has the potential of being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, not at this point anyway. Too much damage has been done throughout years of improvisation, of lack of planning, and the proliferation of ranchos everywhere, unnecessary highways that cut the city in pieces… I’m afraid the damage at this point it’s irreversible.
      I’m not even sure that the Guaire river can be cleaned. Most of the sewers of the city were built around 1918 during the Gomez era, and back then there wasn’t too much knowledge about collecting and treating, so pretty much all of the sewers discharge directly in the river. In order to be done, the sewer system has to be amended, redirected and treatment plants have to be built somewhere.
      Also the ranchos. These areas are huge and there is no way tom wipe them out. They can be consolidated, given services and humanized, but they will remain there for the rest of times.

    • CharlesC Says:

      Wow- great writing Firepigette. I wish I could close my eyes and see only what you see…but I am overwhelmed by (…I hate big cities anyway-)so much
      needs to be done-and so many people with problems..
      I wish people would committ themselves to making things better…

  9. Carolina Says:

    Take a look at this plan to reduce carbon emissions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirCare_(emissions_program)

    What would it take to implement something like this?

    Of course, in a country where it’s difficult to get car parts and new cars it will be almost impossible. Miguel?
    What if it’s applied at least to buses and camioneticas?
    Is the Seguro de Responsabilidad Civil still mandatory? I don’t know how it is right now.

  10. firepigette Says:

    One fascinating aspect of Caracas that I would love to see played up as in tasteful theme parks ,or garden look- out stations etc….is the charming aspect of viewing the Avila.If you notice almost everyone has their own unique view of the Avila.It is so inspiring to walk through the city and take in each view as you would observe a precious jewel.

    It would be so interesting to play up this aspect of Caracas in different areas of the city, combining it with both history and art work.

    Also the Indian caves near the cemetery del Este, and El Calvario need restoration and development. El Calvario is an amazing place) even has a labyrinth) -but long ago fell into darkness if you know what I mean.

    It is my way of thinking that before I add something new, I improve and fix what is already there.

  11. firepigette Says:

    I grew up in DC which I found wonderful in terms of parks and green areas in general.We had Rock Creek park which was a very wild area of woods with a creek winding its way through the city like a snake- spilling over small fjords and around bends to provide recreation and respite to most people in the city.

    It wasn’t too likely that one would live far away from it.Kids walked their dogs there; it was also home to a zoo ,provided picnic tables, and small areas for games etc…..I used to go there with friends to catch cray fish and tadpoles all the time…

    The amazing thing about Rock Creek park is that it was inside the city ( and even extended into the Maryland suburbs) but gave off the feeling of total wildness, making it so refreshing.For that reason I compare it to the Avila.

    I think Caracas has enough green areas for the Eastern part of the city, but it need safer children’s parks…some of them are quite dangerous. …the part lacking in restful green and recreation is the West, but what can be done without rezoning?Are people willing to rezone?

    I also would like to see community gardens for the poor,but they are dependent on crime reduction.So it is all interrelated.Thinking along practical lines, I say crime reduction needs to come first.If people are relatively safe, so much can be done.

    • Carolina Says:

      FP – I totally agree and that is what I have been saying all along. Smaller parks sighing walking distance. Rezoning is easy, especially if the land is abandoned, “ociosa”, and there are plenty of those around the city.
      Maybe a good starting point would be getting the community centres (centros comunales) to identify those areas – that should actually be a productive job, and pass them to their municipal authorities.

  12. HalfEmpty Says:

    Would someone please point me to a history of why Caracas is where it is? Climate? Weather? Water?

    • Syd Says:

      Try inputting Caracas in Google. Also try “Diego de Lozada”, likely the Spanish links giving you better info. Good luck.

    • Roger Says:

      From what I have been told Caracas is where it is as a protection from pirates that operated in the 18th century. There are even two old forts on the old road in. It made it hard get to. Still does. What no one planned for was attack from pirates from within.

      • Kepler Says:

        It was rather in the XVI and XVII centuries, much more than in the XVIII century.

        I wrote a lot of the stuff here through the last couple of years:

        http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquista_de_Venezuela
        http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Colonia_(Venezuela)

        Notice also that quite some areas along the coast were also quite dangerous because of the mosquitos and the mangroves around. La Guaira was not really good place to live. Borburata was also pretty unhealthy. Only sea ports in much more arid areas such as Cumaná and Coro were healthier…but Coro’s immediate surroundings were very arid (thus, people left for El Tocuyo) and both Coro and Sucre were often attacked by pirates.

        At the second third of the XVI century Caracas became a wheat producing area and it was actually so productive that it exported wheat (yes, wheat, TRIGO) to Cartagena de Indias and Caribbean islands. But competition set forth in the XVII century from newly colonized areas with more surface with proper climate. Besides, there was an increase in temperatures afterwards.

        Still even when Alexander von Humboldt arrived (1799) Venezuela produced some wheat near Caracas and more in La Victoria and areas close to Valencia…but it was importing more and more, even from the US.

        • CharlesC Says:

          “Notice also that quite some areas along the coast were also quite dangerous because of the mosquitos and the mangroves around”-
          Yes, simply stated -I heard it was because it was a safe place away from
          and with a view from the hills -a hill station so to speak…

        • HalfEmpty Says:

          Thanks for the info. Looks like a combination of defendable terrain and healthier ecosphere trumped the lack of a handy harbour. I’ll be reading more. Thanks again for the links.

  13. island canuck Says:

    Interesting news for an early Saturday morning.

    El Banco Central imprime bolívares para financiar a Pdvsa

    http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/111015/el-banco-central-imprime-bolivares-para-financiar-a-pdvsa

    “…para precisar que al cierre del 23 de septiembre de este año el BCV ha financiado a Pdvsa con 53 mil 075 millones de bolívares, una cifra que representa 12 mil millones de dólares o 40% de las reservas internacionales”

    And you wonder why inflation is so high. The article mentions that this is the first time in Venezuelan history that the central bank is doing this.

    “”El Banco Central imprime bolívares para financiar a Pdvsa, es la primera vez en la historia que esto ocurre, y evidentemente tiene consecuencias en materia inflacionaria”, dice José Guerra.”

    • CharlesC Says:

      Yes, it IS historic.Actually, a record broken, nobody seems to care,
      nothing new here-just Chavez strangling the golden goose, move along…

  14. Kepler Says:

    ChalesC,

    About to be released we hear about the Lavabot and the Culivator now, two competing technologies from China and Spain designed to fulfill Venezuelans’ dream of sanitary autonomy: no longer will they need to use their hands to clean their butts, they will be able to focus on their BlackBerry and their Scotch glass.

  15. CharlesC Says:

    I think the focus should be on CNG busses for example in Caracas.
    Most money will have to go to infrastructure- and fixing ill-planned for
    problems -always costs a fortune.
    I think 12 years of spending billions on now rusting tanks , etc.
    could have been much better spent on better roads, and railroads-
    don’t get me started- Chavez wants everything to turn into Cuba…
    Everyone is quick to tear down anything any opposition says –
    at least they are trying to point into the right direction.
    yea, that;s right listen to Chavez- the Chinese will build everything-
    new railroads, new highways, and Iranians will build the houses-
    who will wash and feed the Venezuelans- robots?
    Venezuelans- don’t think, don’t do anything- just follow and worship
    mi commandante and thank him…

  16. Syd Says:

    Loved the lively and very practical suggestions by Carolina and Kep. Thank you both and keep ’em coming. A few comments.

    Carolina: regarding recycling, you’ll find hints in ‘C’ of the 2020 plan. Go to ‘aseo urbano’ (residuos y desechos sólidos).
    On enlarging text on a PC/monitor: Ctrl + ‘+’. To decrease, substitute the plus for a hyphen/minus. For the Mac, you’re on your own.

    Kep: Your bar chart compares two years only (1922 and 2011). That’s no way to get a realistic idea of average mean temperatures in Caracas. Besides, 2011 was a La Niña year. As such, soaring temperatures were the norm. Using a La Niña year plus one other year to prove soaring temperatures in Caracas, spells bias. Big time. No te lo acepto. Please go back to the drawing board.

    As for using Gaza … I’m not sure Gaza fulfills the geographic comparatives with Caracas: valley, surrounded by mountains up to 1,000 metres high, and a dalmatian coastline on the sea-side.

    Can we compromise on the golf? How about mini-golf? Just kidding. Other than that, I have no say on the matter.

    On parks, I agree with César and Carolina.

  17. César Says:

    Two or three big parks like Parque del Este and a bunch of little parks/squares scattered around would be a good combination. It’s good to have a big park to go on a sunday morning, but it’s also nice to find a small park or square with benches where you can sit and take a breath, or where kids can play. Here in Spain, many city squares have a children’s playground and it´s nice to see parents, children, people passing by, etc enjoying that little bit of relief from congestion.

  18. Carolina Says:

    Something else that I didn’t see in this plan: road expansions and recycling garbage.

  19. moctavio Says:

    Kepler: It is not about golf, it is about property rights, because Governments screwed up, why do we have to punish these people? I repeat, why do you need the golf courses if you have Fuerte Tiuna y La Carlota and ypu ate not stopping the invasion of El Acila and surrounding mountains?

    I just dont see why the pick on this land, other than jelousy. .

    • Kepler Says:

      Miguel, I repeat:
      I am not for expropiations. I just said what I prefer to be done with those areas if they could be acquired in some legal way. For all I care, demolish Fuerte Tiuna and Carlota firstly. But we need to make Caracas a more lively place. That is not done purely with shopping centres.
      That can be done with more green, also with different venues to meet as done in Spain.

      Carolina,
      Building libraries, etc, is not a contradiction. As I said and you kept ignoring: there is a huge difference between the weather (also air circulation) patterns in such a city as NY at 40° and Caracas at 10°, one on islands next to the open ocean and the other enclosed between mountains, where only the northern part has really green.

      I’d better see the use of more big tree formation PLUS the access to that area for the use of everybody than very shortly cut grass over the whole area.

      It doesn’t matter if you are a sifrina or anything else. It matters if the majority of Venezuelans having more spaces to develop and a huge area is not just left as the exclusively realm of – at best – people who inherited or bought it within the framework of Venezuela’s feudal property rights.

      As I said: if those areas can really really really be proven to be “legally owned” through time, there is little we can do BUT for societal pressure to at least give way to more common use, some form of sharing.

      Again: I don’t think Venezuelans are destined to be always living in the conditions they live now and that Caracas is destined to remain inhumane. There are lots of things one could learn from the US but New York, with all its enormous grandeur, is not precisely an example about urbanism.

      • Carolina Says:

        Kep – you raise many points in your reply and I agree that there are many tings to consider. I’m not ignoring what you say about Caracas climate, I just think that taking over a couple of golf courses, that are already green, won’t make a difference because the weather changes are caused by many other factors than the enclosed valley condition or the lack of green. A big number of not well maintained cars with huge carbon monoxide emissions in a very crowded city, for instance. And of course, the amount of garbage and the carbon foot print of inhabitants that are not environmentally conscious. The global warming is a bigger issue.

        So I’m going to refrain for now to the “take over” of the courses, since we agree on the rest of thing, I think. You say “I’d better see the use of more big tree formation PLUS the access to that area for the use of everybody than very shortly cut grass over the whole area.”

        That to pens that phrase alone opens a can of worms: what about the big houses with big yards and grass? There many of those in Caracas. Should those be taken over too to plant more trees instead of grass and open them to the people? I know it a little ridiculous comparison, but it’s not so far off. The golf courses are already green, and they are also private land, think of them like the backyard of the club houses! And again, they offer the possibility to practice a friendly sport. The municipalities could force the clubs to open them once a week to general public and that would be an good option for the use of a park, don’t you think?

        One more thing, going back to the carbon emissions: Caracas is not a walkable city, it’s cut in two sections by a dirty and very contaminated river without bridges and many highways, it’s almost impossible to walk it safely from neighborhood to neighborhood. I’m convinced that if the municipalities focus on working in a smaller scale, within the communities, offering smaller leisure spaces and yes, cultural spaces and libraries, one for each parroquia or neighborhood, encouraging people to walk and leave the car at home, it will contribute in a much bigger scale to make the city a friendlier one.

  20. moctavio Says:

    Protect El Avila and the surrounding mountains, convert La Carlota and Fuerte Tiuna into parks, thats a lot of land right there. What is country club today was a farm in 2018, Chavez argued that once and the owners had all the paperwork. They could have sold all that land all these years, they didn’t, its theirs.

    • Carolina Says:

      I’m with you. I was just writing something similar.

    • Kepler Says:

      OK, you and Carolina like golf. Syd finds it boring but sees a compromise in minigolf. I am not for expropiations but would rather look at the golfers with gloomy eyes until they give up and decide to convert the area into 3/4 parks, with a couple of large public libraries that have lots of trees around and some cafes and an open amphitheatre for shows plus a centre for martial arts and table tennis and the like for everybody, everything paid by reselling 100 tanks and 200 war planes plus Diosdado’s December bonus.
      The golfers will be able to go to minigolf or buy themselves land in Northern Guárico to feel themselves alone and special.

    • Syd Says:

      Un momentito, Kep. I don’t find golf boring. I’ve played a little golf and find interesting the geometry of the body-to-ball relationship. I also see value in a (goal-oriented) sport that can accommodate ageing bodies and provide slow-paced camaraderie. As an example, albeit one that might come under fire in a hyper polarized society: How many business deals do you figure can be discussed on a tennis court or soccer field?

      So golf doesn’t excite me, but that doesn’t mean I’d impose my interest in alternatives on a general population.

      I know what you’re trying to get across. But your fixation against golf is odd. Surely there’s some room to include this sport, as well, in your plans. O no?

      • Kepler Says:

        On sports, Robien said it all:

        But really: I am NOT for expropiations. Still, I find a shame that in an underdeveloped nation with so much misery, in a city that is already close to expansion, between mountains, you have a huge area where most people cannot enter…

        • Carolina Says:

          LOL, very funny Kep. :-p

        • Syd Says:

          Que envigorante.
          As for open spaces, where most people cannot enter, there are already plenty of those (eg. La Carlota). Sadder still are the open spaces, where most people can enter. They’re a mess. So why not start cleaning up and beautifying those spaces first?

          • Kepler Says:

            Ok, OK, OK, O-K.
            We start invigorating all those places. We make them shine. We make them gorgeous. We then open up La Carlota. We make something useful for La Carlota. And then we go to the golf courses.

            It’s either that or we really make decentralisation in such a way that most of the key ministries are taken out of Caracas and put completely in such places as Calabozo, El Tigre or Maturín…let’s not just give them money to fix their roads, but let’s them have the national taxation office, just like it is done in such places as Germany, Britain or even the USA.
            Let’s put the incentives for sifrinos to want to go out of Caracas for good and live in Cumbres de Calabozo or in Padros de Maturín.

            Let’s people realise you don’t have to live in Caracas if you want to be close to the top opportunities in Venezuela.

  21. firepigette Says:

    Tanke,

    Education in Venezuela being defective is not a reason for the basic problem of Chavez.

    These are 2 separate issues that have to be addressed…and not to recognize the dangerous emotional climate in Venezuela could be folly.

  22. firepigette Says:

    Deananash,

    One point I would like to make on your comment ” ignorance spawned Chavez” -simply because I have heard this statement many times before- is that I find it slightly misleading.

    Germany was the most educated country in Europe when it elected Hitler.The real cause was that they were in a bad emotional place feeling victimized by the victors of the first World War.Their indignation and hatred came from the feeling that their rightful place as the most powerful country in Europe had been stolen by others by treacherous means.This augmented national paranoia which was preached by Hitler.

    In Venezuela, Chavez fills an emotional void by reinforcing the people’s feeling of victimization and their need to identify emotionally with a leader of their own kind who is promising to retrieve the Nations wealth that had been stolen by the Empire and by the rich.

    In both cases vengeance and hatred towards the supposed perpetrators of great injustice were underlying motives that have/ or had little to do with ignorance in any traditional sense and more to do with emotional states.

    Ignorance implies a lack of knowledge, and only by stretching this term could it cover the emotional factors that are so important in the downfall of a country.

    • Tanke Says:

      Yet education in Venezuela is garbage (For the most part) so in this case it is accurate.

      PS: Seriously, remove the golf courses? Why?
      At-least they are pretty and well maintained.. we do not do a good job of maintaining the parks we do have.. why take over the golf courses?

      • Kepler Says:

        Why not? People can think of better vegetation to work as a lung for the city, instead of shortly cut grass. Besides: the fact people are not keeping up their parks now doesn’t mean they can’t later on. The single reason why the grass now is well-kept is because you assume only giving access to the posh is the way to go and Venezuelans in general won’t ever change.
        That’s pretty much Middle Age attitude.

        • moctavio Says:

          I dont like it, these people bought it for their purpose, there is plenty of land in La Carlota airport for parks.

          • Carolina Says:

            How about taking good care of El Avila??

          • Kepler Says:

            If they really bought that stuff, it’s theirs, even if it is silly (obviously, I don’t like golf). I would like to check out the property rights, though…a lot of land in Venezuela is really under dubious property ownership.

            But there is no plenty of land. I don’t know where you take it and with what kind of city you are comparing Caracas. It’s cement, cement and more cement.

          • Carolina Says:

            Two “piche” golf courses won’t make a difference. In fact, from my point of view, the private golf clubs use their private funds for their maintenance, which provides with a pretty green lung to at least look at.
            When made private, I honestly worry about how well maintained would remain, besides, their maintenance will be public funded – so, from taxpayers money.
            I know, they are tempting, they are ready to be used as a park, but I also think that a very chavista way of looking at things.
            Again, they could negotiate with the golf courses one day a week for public use, and promote the sport, and let them pay for the maintenance. Caraballeda golf course does that, for example.
            Now, regardless of the golf course issue, the only argument I found in the plan about taking over these spaces is to provide more green m2/hab. They say right now its’ about 1.5m2/hab. so I wonder if they forgot to consider The Avila for this calculation? It doesn’t show like that in the map. It’s a park, and it’s public.
            Also, there are other options that have been very successful in places like NY – please don’t tell me that Caracas has more concrete then NY – and that is reclaiming abandoned land and lots and turning them into little parks for the use of the communities. Parks and recreational spaces don’t have to be big. In fact, small scale parks, walking distance in each community neighborhood, work much better, because people don’t have to drive or take the bus to go.
            Maybe kepler, you should go for a round of golf one day…

            • Kepler Says:

              I have done golf, didn’t like it at all. But even if they were soccer fields – and I love soccer – I don’t care. It’s not the best way for such a place.
              I don’t know if you have realise it but the climate of NY, in the open and against the sea is quite different from Caracas, which is enclosed. The Ávila does not function in the same way…and besides, smog behaves different there or in the Tropic.

              Please, take a look at this and try to tell me those areas are tiny: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/Caracas,_Venezuela_satelite.jpg

        • Carolina Says:

          Don’t you think the Avila is enough of a lung? Do you really think that taking over a couple of golf courses (Country Club & Valle Arriba) and plant them with trees is going to make a difference?
          For instance, why don’t change bylaws and MAKE every house owner plant two trees minimum?

      • Carolina Says:

        Ok, now I’m going to go ahead and read it before the weekend. What is that about removing golf courses? Seriously? What’s the argument?
        First, the golf courses are private land. It’s like removing every house backyard if it’s not planted with trees.
        Second, it’s a sport! It’s true that it’s not a popular sport in Venezuela, but a sport nevertheless. In fact, how about making the clubs open their courses once a week for the use of general public and promote the sport? And how about giving the revenues of rounds and club rentals to the community? I personally don’t see any difference in removing a golf course or removing all the tennis courts, and the second don’t even have grass.
        Without having read the reasons, I am assuming that there is interference of the personal choices of the planner, that maybe is just not into golf or doesn’t understand the sport. I would like to hear Jhonattan Vegas’ opinion about it.

        • Kepler Says:

          I am not for expropiations but if we could use that land for other things, so much the better. Venezuela could learn a bit of two of urban planning from other places…(which does not mean imitating foreign architecture, but planning).

          • Carolina Says:

            Again, why parks have to be big? Smaller parks, community size, open and green, would be a perfect fit for a crowded city like Caracas.
            How about the Zona rental? How about mercado de la Hoyada (too late, they are doing apartment buildings there..)
            And again, small pieces of land, abandoned and not developed lots, would be great to turn into little parks.

            • Kepler Says:

              Carolina, have you seen the ratio park-cement in Caracas?
              It’s bad, it’s just bad.
              What is your point of reference? Gaza?
              For very simple reasons: the bigger they are, the best used, the better development of vegetation and the more relaxing they can be.
              Caracas hardly have “big parks”.

              As I said: Caracas is a disaster when it comes to urbanism.
              If anything, then it would be better to transform part of those areas into public libraries for everybody, concert halls, centres for sports for all, whatever, to make the city more liveable.
              It’s also quite bad the only thing Venezuelans seem to come up with otherwise are shopping centres like in North America.

              Look at Berlin, look even at London, at Munich.

              I produced this chart some weeks ago:

              This is not just global warming. You don’t improve this with tiny strips of trees only.

              What is it with golf? Does your family belong to that club?

            • Carolina Says:

              Gaza?? Where that came from?
              Hey, I mentioned New York. How many big parks has? One.
              How about Paris? it only has two big parks.
              Vancouver? Only one.
              So, do you think bigger parks are better used, and by whom?
              For instance: moms with little kids. Do you really think that a mom with three kids and a stroller enjoys loading the kids in a car to go to a big park? Or they would prefer to go to the little park, walking distance, just to let the kids play for a bit?

            • Carolina Says:

              Kepler – regarding the ratio, I saw it and yes, it’s not great according to those numbers, but I also questioned if they considered the Avila area into their calculations. It’s a natural park and it’s usable.
              We, city people, tend to think that “parks” have to be manicured spaces to be used. That is not the case. Stanley Park in Vancouver only has little manicured portions. The rest, is wild, as most of parks in Canada.
              I still think community parks would be a better fit for a city like Caracas.

              On another similar topic: one of the biggest problems of Caracas is the ratio of roadways. If I recall correctly – an urbanist would know better than me – the percentage ideal percentage for roads is something like 15% of the city area. Last time I heard (about 20 years ago), it was about 8~10%. How many new roads have been built in Caracas on those last 20 years?
              Now put that against the growth in population.

              So, what do we do? How do we expand raods? Front setbacks are supposed to be allowances for road expansions.

              So going back to the parks: 1)Make the use of the Avila safe with proper trails and services (outhouses). 2)Take over La Carlota, 3)Take over a portion of Fuerte Tiuna (I’m thinking a PUBLIC GOLF COURSE, lol), 4)Take over and transform abandoned and non developed lots into urban parks with the help of the community, 5) Let people play golf.

            • Kepler Says:

              Gazah is a good example, more similar climate to Venezuela’…but at least Gazah has sea contact right away and thus air.

              I repeat: the climate conditions of NY (or Paris) is completely different from Venezuela’s.

              By the way: NY can be cool for night life and the like. I don’t consider it the most humane city on Earth, definitely not THE reference.
              Paris goes by that venue as well. Well, at least in Paris there are some parks here and there where people can rest, even if green is not their forte.

            • Carolina Says:

              Caracas is not an humane city either and it will never be, so what’s the point of saying that NY is not comparable?

            • Carolina Says:

              Kepler – I re-read the whole thread (now in my mac, it was getting too tiny in my computer at the office, lol) and you have great poimts, but I think we are talking aout different things.

              I believe the main topic is about the use of land, not climate, not global warming. That is another issue, and again, the Avila is a park the size of the city itself, so in that sense, Caracas is much better than many of the cities we mentioned.

              It’s about making the disaster that Caracas is into a more livable city.

              You like big parks, that’s ok. Remember again, it’s about the use of them. Who uses the parks and how? If La Carlota and a portion of Fuerte Tiuna, two spaces that already belong to the estate (no need for expropriation) get converted into parks, with the rest of big parks (Caricuao, Parque del Este, Jardin Botanico, Los Caobos, Los Chorros, and THE AVILA) I would say Caracas would have enough big parks.

              (Think also that for big parks, those that people need to drive to get to, needs big parking lots too, about a third of the area. Take a look at the Parque del Este plan, for example, that kind of defeat the purpose, doesn’t it?)

              Add to those big parks the little parks and plazas I’m talking about. One little park, community size park, like Plaza Altamira, like Parque Morichal in Prados, the two parks in Cumbres de Curumo (yes, I’m a sifrina del este, that’s ok). Smaller parks that people can walk to, tons of them, in every neighbourhood, and this can be done, this time with a very good excuse, through expropriations.

              Another way of creating leasure spaces: pedestrian boulevards. Remember hiw succesful the transformation of Sabana Grande was? It used to be a great space, with cafes, sitting areas, gathering spaces. Of course, it went to waste because nobody could control the buhoneros and the crime, but again, think Champs Elysees in a smalles scale.

              Oh, and I’m all for cleaning the river side and make a park along the rivere droite…lol.

              Regarding the sports, yes, I like playing golf, I’m lucky enough to have several public ones in this city, and no, my family doesn’t own any membership of those clubs.

              Kep, just as a side note: check again something you wrote: we were talking about parks and you say something about BUILDING more? (libraries, concert halls, etc, etc). 🙂

  23. Syd Says:

    P.S. website is good, but more attention is needed. In enlaces de interés, the Lincoln Land Institute’s URL comes out as http://http//www.lincolninst.edu/. Sloppy!

  24. Syd Says:

    The plans seem well thought out and serious. I’d like to know how long they’ve been in the works (how many consultants et al have been involved, and at what cost), prior to publishing in 3Q of 2011. Hopefully a feasibility study will follow to cover the years until 2020.

    I was pleased to see mention in the plan of C. Caracas ambientalmlente sostenible, especially the last objectives for ‘aseo urbano’ (residuos y desechos sólidos).. The day there’s a pipote de basura on every two street corners, and an effective pick-up of the contents, is the day that I’ll say, “Hemos llegado.”

  25. Carolina Says:

    A plan! An a drawing! Yeah!!
    I am not sure if there has been a “plan” per se since the Plan Rotival. Caracas has developed on its own, improvisation after improvisation.
    It will be my reading homework for the weekend, I’m excited.


  26. I must certainly agree and give kudos to these people trying to brain storm and plan ahead as a group…BUT, the big but is that these plans are getting WAY ahead of themselves. Yes good public transport and less cars in a city swimming in traffic would be nice, but how are you going to deal with the gasoline that is practically given away and thus gives no incentive to use public transport?

    Reducing electrical consumption would also be great but how will you do that without first having an electrical grid in the barrios which actually gets paid for? The same goes for the water being used. All these things have to be formalized and accounted for before they can actually be reduced in a measurable way. Or is the plan to reduce consumption by those people that actually pay a water or electric bill?

    My point is…plans are all well and good, but in reality many other things need to be fixed first. And before anything there has to be the possibility of implementing plans by getting rid of you know who and his cronies. So how about concentrating on that part first?

    • moctavio Says:

      These people are running Caracas’ Metropolitan mayor office, they have to worry about such things, whether or not they get rid of Chavez. But more importantly, if they do get rid of Chavez they can’t improvise when they get there, people want answers and results, lots of professionals who know little about elections and politics are there to volunteer.

      • la_roche Says:

        100% agree. Thx.


        • I’m not saying don’t plan…I’m saying first plan on fixing what needs fixing before all these things can be done. Its like saying, hey, lets put up more light posts on the streets, without having electricity. These people need to start planning on fixing things that are wrong before they can move ahead to things that wont work without first having the foundations for those things working.

          Precisely because they ARE running the mayors office they need to fix those things first. If they were just a think tank looking into future projects I wouldn’t have mentioned anything.

  27. Roger Says:

    And this new city will be called Rancho Grande!

  28. deananash Says:

    Miguel, I haven’t done it in a few months, but I never want to forget: THANKS for your work with The Devil’s Excrement. Yours is the only information that I trust.

    Also, thanks to nearly all of the commentators. You all make reading the comments worthwhile.

  29. deananash Says:

    Nothing will happen until there is regime change. And I’ve purposefully chosen that word.

    That said, I’ve lived around the world, and Caracas was and is my favorite city. It’s so compact, El Avila is so breathtakingly beautiful, the weather is always fresh – I have mostly fond memories of my 3 years there. So I’d love to see the city progress even further.

    B,UT, and it’s a really big but, NOTHING wonderful is going to happen until the population becomes educated. Good luck with that.

    I’m not a cynic – I spend my life educating the poor. But Venezuela was in trouble with ignorance long before Chavez arrived. In fact, her ignorance is what spawned Chavez.

    China truly deserves it’s forthcoming success. For a very long time now, at least 30 years, the Chinese have been planting apple seeds. Their harvests are simply going to continue to improve. (We really do reap what we sow.)

    • Syd Says:

      Agree with your opinions on El Avila, levels of ignorance before Chávez, and continued low interest in effecting a real, rather than a cosmetic overhaul of the educational system.

      As for China, let’s hope those apple seeds reach way beyond the urban sprawl.

    • Kepler Says:

      On education: believe me, something good is slowly happening. This December you will know some details 🙂

  30. CharlesC Says:

    O/T -May I mention an article
    “Cooking the Books in Buenos Aires”-
    (mentions much about Venezuela also.)
    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/falsifican-las-cifras-en-buenos-aires/

  31. moctavio Says:

    They already have 4 of the 5 municipalities and they came close in the 5th. one, so that is doable.

    The positive thing is that they will have an idea what tod o when they rae there, they already are working in it, people will notice.

  32. Ira Says:

    I don’t see how an urban parks program is going to unseat the Chavistas:

    Once again, the opposition fails in recognizing the hot-button issues that can return VZ to democracy:

    My wife’s sister got a new roof on her “house” 2 years ago thanks to Chavez. (I use the word “house” lightly; she lives in Monte Piedad.) Of course, she doesn’t give a SHIT about the economics and math involved with her getting this repair done…the fact that she was one of the few lucky ones and the fact that thos program makes no economic sense…the fact that that her niece (and ours) had to lie about being a Chavista in order to get a job in a nursing home to help sick people…and the fact that this young, wonderful niece of ours (early 20s) hates her aunt’s guts for being a Chavista, and for destroying her future:

    My niece who constantly reminds my wife to never publish her name, even her FIRST name, on Facebook or in emails that are derogatory about the Chavez regime, for fear of losing her job, or worse. Just like Nazi Germany.

    I didn’t read the linked report because I assume it’s in Spanish, and my Spanish stinks. But if the focus is on parks, forget it. Security has to be the ONLY issue that will touch Caraquenos of all political persuasions.

    And all of this bond issue nonsense will never mean a thing at the ballot box.

    The opposition simply can’t see the forest for the trees.

    • Roberto N Says:

      Ira:

      I don’t see anything wrong with folks planning for a day when Chavistas are on the wane and gone.

      This was not a plan “presented by the opposition”, but being worked on by a Mayor, who it must be said, by working on something like this is doing his job.

      IN case you missed it, here is the last part of the post :

      “The whole thing is like the fresh air Caracas needs, an organized group of people thinking and planning, experts and professionals in the relevant fields, not ignorant captains with no clue about what they are doing. Hopefully all Mayors of the municipalities of Caracas in 2013 will be from opposition parties, so that this plan can become a reality.”

      Ira: with your attitude, all you demonstrate is that the Chavistas got to you. They won, you lost.

      • Ira Says:

        No–you got it totally wrong. The Chavistas sure didn’t get to me. They got to VZ–and there are only a limited number of ways to counter it.

        DIsmissing my attitude means that the Chavistas will win again. Of course, how the hell can I claim to know the answers to freeing VZ from Chavez/Cuban domination? Well, I know as much as all of the other “experts” here.

        Do you actually think that PARKS are going to unseat Chavez? That kind of position is laughable, especially since Chavez and his minions have the power to usurp any intitiatives by opposition local authorities. Or did you forget this?

        The opposition continues to be laughable, with do-gooders like Capriles who choose to ignore the outrageous illegal excesses of Chavez–and instead, want to get elected and rule by compromise, catering to both sides.

        Give me a break!!!

        And in case you didn’t notice–the Chavistas HAVE won. And my attitude, not yours, is the only way to change that.

        The opposition doesn’t have the cojones to change the situation, because aside from Lopez, they’re all a bunch of pussies.

    • Roberto N Says:

      Ira:

      It is clear you did not even bother to glance at the plan. You believe the plan is about “parks” and dismiss it out of hand.

      It is about more than “parks”.

      And no, I don’t believe “PARKS” are the only way to unseat Chavez, but I do believe it can be done.

      You, on the other hand, seem to believe that we should perhaps form a “Caracas Tea Party” modeled on the bunch of idiots currently going by that name in the US in order to unseat Chavez. Good luck with that.

  33. island canuck Says:

    Anything decent & good & with a chance of success will be looked upon as a threat by the red shirts.

  34. Juan Cristóbal Nagel Says:

    The map isn’t on their website. #Fail! But kudos to them for thinking medium term.


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