Venezuelan Infrastructure Suffers From Fourteen Years of Chavismo

August 19, 2012

Caracas has three main highways that take you out to the rest of the country. For a few hours this weekend, only one of them was available, the Autopista Regional del Centro. The other two, the Autopista de Oriente and the Caracas-La Guaira highway were closed for different reasons, making life difficult for those wishing or needing to travel.

The Autopista de Oriente was closed because the bridge at Cupira, about 130 Kms. East of Caracas, collapsed last week, as you can see in the picture above. The School of Engineers of Puerto La Cruz had been warning since 2009 that the bridge was in bad shape, but the warnings, much like those of the viaduct in the Caracas La Guaira highway a few years ago, were ignored by the Chavista Government. On top of that, you can see in the picture the large truck crane sitting in the middle of the bridge. There are reports that this truck crane, leased by the Government, weights almost twice as much as Venezuelan laws allow for a vehicle. Nobody stopped it and it was not complying with the regulations for a large vehicle circulating in a highway. This may have contributed to the collapse of the 40 year old bridge.

The consequences are felt everywhere. This is vacation season and an estimated 30,000 people scheduled to return from Margarita island by Ferry in the next couple of weeks will have troubles doing so, unless they take a 4 to 5 hour detour. Add commerce and supplies to the East and you can see that the picture is not pretty. The first day of the collapse the Government said it would have an alternate route ready in three days, but word now is that it will take around 15 days for the alternate route to be ready.

Meanwhile, the Caracas la Guaira highway was shut down yesterday for 14 hours (it was less than that in the end) so that the steel beam of the bridge of a new distributor in the Caracas La Guaira highway could be put in place. This was obviously needed, the information was unclear. At the beginning of the week, I thought it would affect me and I would have to sleep at a Hotel near the coast, as I had an afternoon flight out. But the hours were changed magically and it did not affect me, but it did many others departing and arriving from Maiquetia airport. You only had two alternatives, either sleep at a hotel down by the Coast, or take the old Carretera Vieja, which is extreme adventure tourism because of its decaying state, as well as the possibility of being mugged. You can see the new steel beam below:

But the more interesting thing is why this distributor is being built. The Distributor leads to Ciudad Caribia, a supposedly “socialist” city invented by Chavez on one of his Alo Presidentes. People are given the apartments, but they don’t own them. But the worst part is that thousands of apartments have been built but transportation to and from that new city is terrible. The plan is to have over 100,000 people live there by the year 2018. The problem is that the Caracas La Guaira highway is already overloaded and there are no plans for an alternate route to the 59 year old highway. (I know exactly how long it has been around, my mother always told us about going to see the highway the day it was opened, despite the fact that she was nine months pregnant and gave birth to my sister the next day)

But this is typical of the improvisation of Chavismo. Ciudad Caribia was rushed, without having proper infrastructure for it. People are very critical of it and construction quality has been bad, with building walls falling down months after the construction has been completed. This is not unique to Ciudad Caribia. All over the country buildings are rising, without any additional infrastructure being built. In order to rush the housing units to completion, all ordinances are bypassed, there is no planning and the result is that the quality of life is simply lowered for everyone. I guess that is what they mean by socialism.

Chavez no longer has the excuse of blaming the previous Government. Venezuelan democracy was reinstated in 1958 and Chavez has governed for 26% of those years. Moreover, he has had immense resources but has little to show in terms of infrastructure. In fact, even housing is a late project by Chavez, conceived last year as a way of buying votes ahead of the upcoming election. Chavez track record in housing is so dismal, that he has yet to better the average of the Caldera years in any given year, despite the fact that oil was in the low teens when Caldera was President.

But his track record in maintenance is even worse. Electric projects, highways and bridges have been neglected. Prior to Chavez there would be maintenance, even if few significant infrastructure projects were built.  But those in charge of maintaining the infrastructure were slowly replaced by loyalists, many military officers. Venezuelan infrastructure has suffered fourteen years of neglect under Chavismo.

You would think that this would impact the upcoming Presidential vote. The excuse of the previous Government is no longer valid. After 14 years, Chavez really has little to show, so he resorts to selling ideology rather than facts in his campaign. Hopefully for Venezuelans, it will not work this time.

46 Responses to “Venezuelan Infrastructure Suffers From Fourteen Years of Chavismo”

  1. Charles Says:

    “yo me pregunto… en que universidad, curso, pagina de Internet o escuela por correspondencia se graduó chavez para tener los conocimientos necesarios para colocar a dedo los jefes de una empresa… seguro el sabe de metalurgia… o sabe de alta producción… no sabia que eso lo daban en el ejercito… yo quiero que entiendan algo… un presidente es como el gerente de una empresa… por esta misma soberbia y pendejera es que se a caído la producción nacional… a quien se le ocurre colocar en un ministerio como el agricultura y tierras a personas que no son ni tsu agrícola… o tan siquiera tengan experiencia en producción… una empresa o un ministerio no es una rama de un partido político” Thank you, Pedro Pena. I agree 100+ percent.

  2. bobthebuilder Says:

    40 years lifespan for a bridge is very poor. This suggests that not only are current lot jokers but also those who approved this bridge in the first place.

    • Peter Buitelaar Says:

      A bridge with problems after 40 years taking in account river overflow, no maintenance, more and heavier traffic, etc. is not so strange and couldn’t be foreseen when the bridge was designed 40-45 years ago! 

      All over western Europe bridges are inspected, re- calculated and observed, if necessary they are replaced, re-strengthened or repaired. Bridges build and calculated 40-50 years ago where never calculated and build for the present loads and traffic intensity. 

      Problem in Venezuela is that even when the Ministry know all about the condition of bridges and the weak “spots” in the national network of roads, no real action is taken. There is no interest to spend money now to save money and, moe important, disasters in the future. When action is taken to make repairs, the price is too high, money is paid to some other parties and the repair is, despite the high price, done in such a way that it don’t make any sense. La Cabrera in Carabobo is a typical example of this. Large sums are spend for some inferior repairs. Too many pockets to fill! 

      As long as a majority except this, it will continue. Next generation will have to pay for it, not only infra structure but also refineries, platforms in the lake of Maracaibo, etc.  

  3. Peter Buitelaar Says:

    Interesting case for a civil engineer. Most of the cases where bridges are collapsing, a combination of factors are responsible. It seems also here being the case:1.  possible damage because of the high water levels during the rain periods, interesting to see this on Google Earth. 2. No regular inspection after the rain period to check foundations, columns, sub grade, etc. 3. No maintenance during long period. 4. Overload like this extreme heavy crane. No surprise that it went wrong at the moment the crane passed the bridge! Knowing the situation in Venezuela for the last 18 years and especially the infrastructure it is still a miracle that so far not more happens and that human lives are not involved in the recent collapse. 

    Clear is that, despite warnings regarding the infrastructure from engineers in Venezuela, the present government is not interested at all to maintain, to inspect and to repair. Maybe to transfer that, like the airports and harbors, to the Cuban “friends” too? Sad that people still don’t realize what is going on and how “their” money is wasted. 14 years Mr. Hugo will be an expensive lesson in the near future!

    • Charles Says:

      “Sad that people still don’t realize what is going on and how “their” money is wasted. 14 years Mr. Hugo will be an expensive lesson in the near future!”
      This is exactly what has puzzled me for years, why can’t people see and understand this?
      I don’t believe this has happened anywhere in the world on such a large scale and without people being aware of it?

  4. Charles Says: -Note this started in 2009 and everyone was quiet
    about it…
    Please read the opinion comment by Nelson Jose Ponce Gonzales:
    “A quíen en su sano juicio, se le ocurre darle la administracion de nuestro puerto Puerto cabello , a un gobierno extranjero, en nuestro propio territorio soberano. Quíen seria capaz de semejante desafuero, semejante locura y desatino. Como se puede amar a la patria entegando parte de su soberania a los ojos de todos los venezolanos , al gobierno Cubano. Que clase de locura le ronda la mente? .Qué diran los chavistas de este lubrego y triste episodio de destruccion de Venezuela, de desatino mental. Cómo se puede calificar ese espiritu de destruccion . Qué venezolano en su sano juicio aprueba una situacion de esta categoria, y se dice a si mismo Venezolano y Chavista, sin que le den retorsijones de estomago y ganas hasta de vomitar el espiritu y el alma. No se sabe a ciencia cierta hasta donde seremos capaces de lleg
    ar , al enterarnos de este doloroso episodio, la realidad supera una vez más a la fantasia. Quíen con un voto en la mano, y siendo Venezolano es capaz de aceptar una humillacion de este calibre. Qué justificacion le encuentra el pueblo Chavista a un evento vende patria como este, donde claramente el amor por la patria y la venezolnidad se arrastra por el suelo como si fuese un trapo viejo. Qué ocurre, con la identidad del Venezolano que no es capaz de valerse por si mismo, y ahora creemos que en otros paises son más capaces que nosotros. Que verguenza más grande, que pena ajena, nos hace sentir. Qué diran los propios cubanos cuando se les da, o se les dió asi de sorpresa, este regalo tan jugoso, e inesperado. Hacia dónde va nuestra querida venezuela, nuestra patria amada. Si ya no tiene nadie quien la cuide y vele por ella”

  5. Kepler Says:

    To some extent, Cupira is going through really really historical moments: back in the times of Juan de Urpín (early XVII century) the Tomuza Indians and the Spanish settlers were better connected: at least they had those canoes and boats to go from one side to the other. Now, in 2012, we are stuck with rusty 1970 GMs and 2012 Grand Cherokees that cannot go either way, even if we have petrol for free.

  6. firepigette Says:

    The bridge? The crane?

    Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.

    Helen Keller

    From what I have observed over my lifetime, one of the principle causes of apathy is the inability to project an image into the future and see the consequences of certain behaviors, or actions.Society could help this along by making sure that people pay a price for their wrongdoings .In Venezuela people get away with the most shameless things.

  7. Ira Says:

    Why should Hugo care?

    He flies.

  8. Bill S. Says:

    Whoever designed that bridge was good. How that crane didn’t put it down into that river was a miracle. It wasn’t some fellow’s day to meet his maker.

  9. jc Says:

    Heh, “no blood for oil.” 100,000+ dead Venezuelans under Chavismo = “no blood for oil.” The irony is so fucked up.

  10. syd Says:

    Hoy es domingo, día de rezo. Que en 49 días, la mayoría de votantes venezolanos acaben con la ineptidud de quienes promocionaron, en el transcurso de catorze años, un sueño sin fundamento, un proyecto fracasado.

  11. moctavio Says:

    A confesion de parte relevo de pruebas: Minister of Transportation: Chavez told me fix the roads, they are destroyed. Yes, after 13 years of his Government.

  12. VJ Says:

    On the application “Google Earth” there is an interesting satellite photo of the Cupira bridge dated back to 3/19/2004, where you can see by that time that the river totally invaded the western pillar and the brigde structure practically rests over a meander in the eastern margin, created by the river sediments.
    By the way, as you can see in the picture above posted by the Devil, the crane truck was aproaching the same western pillar when the brigde collapsed.
    Check the “Google Earth” picture by entering in the look up window: “Venezuela, Miranda, Cupira” and zoom to an elevation of 400 meters. If you have the grid option “ON” you may look for the following coordinates: 10°09’53.83″ N 65°42’00.46″ W

  13. Hay que decir una cosa…los gobiernos en Venezuela nunca se han conocido por sus excelentes obras de mantenimiento. Pero con todo y esolas cosas estas MUCHO peores hoy en dia asi que para esos TAN aferrados a este nuevo gobierno hay que decir lo siguiente (y es INCREIBLE que los seguidores der jefe comandante todavia!! se sigan tragando las escusas) y esa cosa es…si TODO es culpa de los otros gobiernos, porque en 14 años no a cambiado NADA y mas bien las cosas empeoran cada vez mas?? Sera porque TODO lo que pasa en Venezuela es culpa de alguien mas?? Si el comandante esta tan encima de todo cuaaando se van a arreglar las cosas, en otros 14 años??

    Gente como Maria G. pretende que el gobierno se responsabilice de todo (denos casa Sr. gobierno, denos trabajo Sr. gobierno, denos comida barata Sr. gobierno, denos medicos en los barrios Sr. gobierno etc etc) pero cuando sucede algo como esto donde una grua que pesa el DOBLE de lo que un puente aguanta, o mas bien aguantaba cuando era nuevo hace 40 años, entonces ahi si la culpa no es de la Guardia Nacional, ni del ministerio de infraestructuras, ni muchisimo menos del lider que se supone que se ocupa de todo obviamente. No, ahi la culpa es de la empresa que alquilo la grua. Por dios hasta CUANDO con las escusas y la habladera de paja??

    De verdad que este monton de escusas ya lo que dan es ARRECHERA pura!! Y si, lo puse en mayuscula porque en mi mente estoy gritando…

    Pero claro, como dijo Island Canuck…todas estas preguntas y comentarios son totalmente retoricos porque gente asi ve lo que quiere ver y da double standards para todo, para que al final del dia puedan decir “yo no fui”.

  14. P Riot Says:

    Existen gruas de esa capacidad y hasta mayores en el país. Sin embargo, el traer una grua del extranjero es consistente con el comportamiento chavista consabido de importar cualquier vaina con tal de controlar el proceso de contratación para beneficio de “unos pocos”. ¿Estaremos ante otro guisito? Si para muestra, está un botón ¿recuerdan al Aban Pearl? ¡Menudo botón!

  15. Carolina Says:

    Simple: it was an old bridge, not maintained and rusted, and part of the MAIN ROAD to the east.
    Why the government in 14 years never took the initiative to build a new one?How about a little planning?

    • Gold Says:

      Exactamente. Apparently, the only activity that the regime executes with swiss efficiency is collecting taxes. They should have opened a SENIAT division for infrastructure maintenance. Too late now, though.Their time is up.

  16. moctavio Says:

    El 16 de Diciembre del 2005 el Presidente Hugo Chavez viisto el viaducto y dijo que los medios estaban exagerndo y que no existia peligro con el Viaducto. Pocos meses despues, todos conocemos la historia.

  17. Roy Says:

    15 days??!!

    Does the Venezuelan Army not have Baily Bridges?

    • VJ Says:

      Yes, the Venezuelan Army does have Bailey Bridges. But I think, that one of the problems with the Cupira bridge is its span, which is around 55 meters or 180 feet long.

    • Kepler Says:

      Geez, Roy, geez, pleeeeease! How do you think the Bobolarian Army will transport those bridges? After so much sabotage from your Empire!

      • Roy Says:

        Sabotage? Why bother? Chavez is doing a great job on the destruction of Venezuela’s infrastructure all by himself!

    • Carolina Says:

      Chavez sent them back when the evil empire wanted to help with Vargas mudslides.

  18. …si fuera verdad que se rentó el truck, el responsable solidario es propietario del mismo. El desplazamiento del viaducto No.2 fué documentado antes del nacimiento de Chavez e informado al único Colegio de Ingenieros; que por cierto no es en Puerto la Cruz. 3 Falacias

    • moctavio Says:

      El Gobierno de de Chavez no hizo nada para evitar la caida y dijo dias antes era mediatico. La grua fue traida a Venezuela por el Gobierno, el propietario esta en holanda. Si existe un Colegio de Ingenieros en Pto. La Cruz. Ver:

      • un solo colegio de ingenieros, diferentes centros en las regiones. La empresa francesa que construyó el viaducto No. 2 monitoreaba el desplazamiento poco tiempo de culminada la obra. Antes que Hugo Chavez naciera.

        • moctavio Says:

          Pero el que dio su opinion sobre CUPIRA fue el de Anzoategui basado en Pto. La Cruz. Y que hizo Chavez cuando llego al Gobierno. NADA. Que se desplazra desde antes no le quita la culpa de ignorar el problema. Tuvo suerte no hubo muertos.

        • cacr210 Says:

          Justificando los desastres y la mala administración después de 14 años con el argumento de que los adecos también lo hicieron. Si el gobierno subcontrata a una Compañía debería por lo menos cerciorarse que cumpla las leyes que el mismo promulga, no te parece? Pero eso no entra en tu guión de apologista de una autocracia.
          Por lo que veo, no sabes escribir camión en español, por lo que asumo no eres de acá, me gustaría ver tu reacción si Bush hubiese dicho que la culpa de lo que paso con Katrina fue culpa de lo que hizo Jimmy Cartes.

        • Carolina Says:

          Yo leo y leo y no entiendo lo que quiere decir esta tipa con el “unico” Colegio de Ingenieros de Venezuela. Me supongo que desconoce que todas las asociaciones profesionales (ingenieros, medicos, arquitectos, abogados, etc) en Venezuela son de caracter nacional, a diferencia de los EEUU y Canada, en donde funcionan por estados y provincias.

          Este detallito asi como el del “truck” (le falto decir guagua) y lo del viaducto “2” dejan claro que la tipa no vive ni sabe nada de Venezuela.

          Como fue que dijo? Falacias?

    • Isa Says:

      Epa Maria, y Chavez no y que iba a cambiar las cosas? Pero el viaducto se le cayo a el y un mes antes el mismo dijo eso era un invento. Y sobre la grúa, la Guardia Nacional porque no la paro? Esos mismo guardias que paran a cualquier pendejo a ver que lleven en su camioncito y matraquearlos. Pero no, las grua es del Gobierno. El Sabado baje a La guiara, estaba prohibida la bajada de gandolas y estaba full de gandolas. Chavez es un Gobierno de yo no fui. Nada es culpa de el. Se cansa uno.

      • Isa Says:

        Y me imagino, que como no dices nada, estas de acuerdo del fracaso del Presidente saliente en materia de vivienda.

      • island canuck Says:

        It’s very obvious that this crane was the cause of the bridge collapse. If it doesn’t belong to or is leased by the government why have they not talked about it?

        Just another example of the total incompetence of this government.

        Why can’t extreme leftists like Maria Gonzalez see the reality? Are their minds so closed that the truth is something that they can’t absorb?

        These questions are, of course, rhetorical. You can’t debate with fanatics.

        • island canuck Says:

          maria gonzalez
          Internauta del ala izquierda. Con billones de terabytes de experiencia vital. Alto kilometraje en suelo. ANTIIMPERIALISTA SIEMPRE

        • Carolina Says:

          Canuck, I disagree that the crane was the cause. The cause is that no structure on earth can stand the test of time without proper maintenance, and even then some structures are not meant to last that long.

          This shitty bridge is an obvious example, and it’s not that’s located in a lost road in the middle of nowhere. It’s a major road with lost of traffic, cargo and particular vehicles.

          This could have been forseen and prevented, and if it was determined that the bridge was no good anymore, build a new one before it collapses.

          It’s pure negligence of those in charge. No other explanation.

        • Roy Says:


          You and Carolina are both correct. The overweight load of the crane crossing the bridge was the “proximate cause”, overloading the bridge’s current degraded capacity. The excess load caused the top stringers of the truss to buckle first, destroying the entire structural integrity of the bridge.

          However, the “ultimate cause” was the incompetence of the government in failing to maintain maximum loading information for bridges and to enforce a system of transit permits for over-size and over weight loads in which a routing investigation is done to insure that the bridges along the proposed route can handle the load, overhead clearance is adequate, and safety measures are taken to protect the public.

          • Carolina Says:

            Thanks Roy.

            I was actually coming back to say that and to be fair to Canuck. I got an email explaining the truck characteristics of weight and width and I realized that it triggered the collapsing of the bridge.

            It’s a mix of everything.

    • VJ Says:

      The following video and song by the great Hector Lavoe is dedicated to Maria Gonzalez. I hope you like it…
      Title: Todo tiene su final, nada dura para siempre…

  19. island canuck Says:

    The government must think we are really bobos.

    Ministro de Transporte Terrestre:
    El puente de Cúpira se cayó porque habían una gandola y tres carros

    If you look at the photo above you will see a couple of cars & a transport truck with some cabillas (not many) on the bridge.
    There has not been one word about the crane from the government. It’s like it doesn’t exist. If it doesn’t exist it’s not our problem.

    The other point that Miguel mentioned was the central route to get to PLC & the ferry. We had a client arrive on Friday & it took him 15 hours in a 4×4. He told me that the road is an utter disaster full of huge holes. Photos on the web confirm this.

    The neglect of this government is legendary but now the 14 years of incompetence is coming to haunt them in a “perfect storm” of events.

    The roads, the housing, the lack of essentials, the lack of cement, the collapse of many hospitals and, of course, the electricity which after 2 years of millions & millions of dollars in band aids is at a point of complete collapse.

    Chavez has no chance of winning this election. It will be a comfortable win for Capriles. Now we just have to protect the votes.

    • Tomaz V Says:

      Unfortunately a victory of Capriles wouldn’t mean the end of Chavizmo. It would be a significant victory, but it could easily turn phyrric. They’re bleeding the country dry and should Caprilles win will certainly claim the upcoming economic trouble is his fault that wouldn’t happen under Chavez. A recall referendum is a dangerous option, especially since they would still hold the courts and have a majority in legislative. Granted, they would loose a major asset, but could still successfully sabotage the country. I wouldn’t put it past them, not by a long shot.

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