Cubagua is on its own


The small island of Cubagua (part of Nueva Esparta State) was the location of Nueva Cádiz, the first Spanish settlement in Venezuela and South America.

After running out of pearl oysters (the main source of local income, and the reason Margarita used be called “la perla del Caribe” until some place in Belize apparently snatched the name), the town was abandoned by the settlers.

Even if it was declared a place of cultural heritage in 1979, what’s left of Nueva Cádiz is not only its historical ruins, but the current lack of public services and government attention.

The promise of turning Cubagua into an archaeological park and tourist destination has ended up in nothing. The substitution of ranchos for colonial-style houses stalled after completing only one house. Half of the twenty families that lived on the island four years ago have left.

Cubagua is another example of the disregard for our historical heritage.

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  1. Reading this and watching the old footage of Caracas on the earlier entry, just brings to mind again the enormous potential Venezuela has as a destination, and its enormous cultural heritage, which is just being squandered- not just squandered, actively being destroyed.

  2. Canuck, last time I said Venezuela had a lot of potential was some 25 years ago when I left the country, and still it’s stuck in just having potential.

    • After reaching crisis point in 1983, Venezuelan governments have spent 15 years trying to pull through and 14 years attempting to dismantle the State in order to impose a tropical version of the Kibbutz. There doesn’t seem to have been room for thinking over real development as there did after 1936. By the way, we still have potential.

      • It’s amazing to see a country flail around year after year seeking a solution, but so utterly failing to grasp the correct policy options. It’s like a train that just keeps wrecking, for a decade (that’s how long I’ve been a Venezuela watcher). As long as the oil flows, Venezuela can fumble along this otherwise totally unsustainable path of “21st century socialism.” Oil is poison to responsible government. Had it simply run out in 1983, Venezuela would probably be a better country today.

        • I totally agree, but then I have this thought: what’s a petro-state where there has been progress and improvement and an increase in democracy in recent times? Mexico. I know, people still call it an almost failed state, and there are reasons for that, but I have been traveling to Mexico City for about the last 20 years, and each year, it looks just a little bit better, people are returning to the streets (not just in daylight hours), the streets are not just giant garbage disposal sites anymore- the parks are getting fixed, parents are out with their kids in the evenings, cultural life is thriving, the old abandoned buildings in the centre are being turned into businesses, you can walk around at night without feeling like your life is at risk (some areas obviously still exceptions to that). Call me delusional but I think Mexico -with obvious qualifiers- may be a very modest but hopeful example of a petro-state turning itself into a democracy that has oil.

          • I know that looking outside for a solution is tempting, but it is unnecessary. After all, the first one to come up with a solution clearly demonstrates this. Venezuela can be the first with its own solution.

            I think we have a huge number of sufficiently educated people to figure out the math: every citizen receiving equal amounts of oil money translates into a reactivated consumer market of zero poverty, while eliminating the petrostate.

            Yet, Venezuela’s case is even simpler than having to do math because the answer is in our constitution, the money belongs to the people; any alternative is the graft that is a continuation of the status quo, the petrostate.

            What surprises me more than the lack of math or reading of the constitution, however, is the lack of vision. Clearly, as technology advances, it will take fewer and fewer people to produce more and more goods. This implies that the percentage of people necessary to provide for the totality of people will continue to diminish over time, which implies that employment will be tougher and tougher to come by. The paradigm, therefore, that everyone must work to survive will soon enough not hold water. It’s time to realize that the future requires that those who want to work, thus improve their standard of living, must pay for the minimum standard of living of those who don’t. No whining.

            Venezuela has a tremendous opportunity, here. We have sufficient funds to make all of the above happen, and quickly. In fact, the timing couldn’t be more perfect, what with needing a platform that can win votes while raising so many people in need out of poverty, while reactivating the market precisely in the areas that are most important to most people.

            Time to wake up. If we fail, it’s not for lack of solution, but for lack of looking under our own noses. Time to end the sluggishness, and get on board the rocketship to the future.

            This is the ticket.

          • Interesting reflections. To be clear, I do not suggest that Venezuelans need to follow Mexicans, or don’t have the know how to turn things around. All I’m suggesting is that maybe- maybe- geology is not destiny, and Mexico is an example of that. Brazil possibly another example, but I don’t know anything about Brazil or the degree to which its economy is still resource based.


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