Fruto Vivas and the Farruco doctrine


5461609_copia.520.360Well-known Venezuelan architect Fruto Vivas (seen in the photo) has been in the news lately: one of his most famous works, the former Venezuelan pavillion of the Expo 2000 (known as “the flower of Venezuela”)  has been front and center in the ongoing political battle between Lara State governor Henri Falcon and the central government after it was vandalized by PSUV supporters.

But Vivas (who sympathizes with el proceso) had also some harsh words about the current state of the capital Caracas and the current approach of massive construction projects now been implemented by the State minister in charge of “the revolutionary transformation of Caracas” (and self-declared MS Paint aficionado) Francisco “Farruco” Sesto.

For example, Vivas was very critical of the mammoth project known as Ciudad Tiuna:

“How you can solve the exit problem for the people (who will live) in Fuerte Tiuna? Where will the cars come out? The trash? How you can solve it? Starving to death inside a brand new home is still starving to death. How you can put there a large amount of people who don’t have a job? The apartments are of good quality and they’re fully furnished. But the worst part is that they lack parks or public services. They don’t belong to an urban structure, but simply they’re put there a lo macho…

Sesto himself dismissed Vivas’s criticisms in Aporrea, where he insisted in the viablilty of the projects out of “revolutionary obligation”. For him “… it’s not a matter of architecture nor urban planning, but a matter of humanity”. After all, he’s simply following the orders left by none other than the comandante supremo.

Before his beef with Mr. Vivas, Sesto went even further during a recent interview with El Nacional. In it, he admitted that some mistakes were made in the development of the G.M.V.V. housing plan in the capital but that the plan would go on anyway, regardless of present and future consequences. He already has new expropiated lands to his disposal to keep it going.

This could be called “the Farruco doctrine”: just keep on building, no matter what happens.

But this line of thought isn’t reserved for housing projects. Case in point: the recent announcement by Nicolas Maduro of a brand new deal with a Portuguese company (chosen without any public bidding process) to build the second Caracas-La Guaira highway.

Some experts have complained that the project is too expensive (US$4.7 billion), very complicated (10 tunnels, 7 viaducts and 4 interchanges) and pretty risky, as its proposed route goes across the Tacagua fault line… twice.

Yet the project is still a go, according to Ground Transportation Minister Haiman El Troudi, who sees it simply as an issue of “political will”.

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  1. Vivas is old school commie from back in the day, but he is a respectable human being. He is a great guy and one of the best architects of the country who understand our tropical environment, his work is recognized all over the world. In other words, he is waaaayyy too far from the mediocrity that surrounds Chavismo so like many other leftist intellectuals, they cannot stay shut about it (the mediocrity, the patuque that is).

    If you go and look on the dictionary the word “mediocre” you would see the face of Farruco and others top echelon Chavistas.


    And even more sad to see his work vandalized with graffiti. Quoting Juan in here: “hasta cuando, vale?”

  2. Venezuelan infrastructure investment is top notch, no amount of nitpicking is going to change this. (specially not understanding fault construction engineering)

    Looking through the IFE site

    This is better than nearly all developed countries, soon goods and services will have the required infrastructure (along with port upgrades for speed loading) to export tropical agriculture and technology quickly

    Only thing missing is a subvalued currency.

      • I don’t know if you are aware but a recent train accident just killed 80 people, accidents happen.

        BUILDING that rail and connecting the country with high speed rail (defined by Europe as more than 200 KPH) is only being done in countries like China, and Venezuela.

    • are you serious? have you traveled to other countries as of late? you would find very hard to find a pavement irregularity in a developed country highway, street or avenue, anyway, if trains accidents happen in canada, france and spain, I don’t want to guess what will happen if the usual revolutionary mediocrity find it’s way into those services here in venezuela

      • I am talking about new rail, it has been a good record as of now with 4 subway systems and Caracas-Tuy rail. Accidents do happen but even in the developed world driving accidents are much much higher than rail.

        • well then, the rail investment is good, but you could hardly say that the country infrastructure is “top notch” nor is better than in developed countries, urban planning for roads have remained outdated for years now

    • sistema ferroviario: PLAN Socialista … Estatus Actual (pero sin fecha).
      Luego de 14 años de hablapajadería, resulta que solo 44 Km de la vía CCS – Cúa están en operación.
      Sabemos que hay tramos en rehabilitación, pero no sabemos el estatus de esa rehabilitación.
      Sabemos que hay tramos, supuestamente en vía de construcción, pero no sbemos el estatus de esa construcción.

      Pero bueno, para los creídos, tal como el pobre amigo Shame, el mapa luce bien bonito.

      • You know there are actual things like pictures of progress and stuff? Or do you believe everything on the internet is a montaje?

        • Once again, Shame, you show tremendous capacity to deviate from questioning by those who don’t swallow half-assed dreams, pretty plans notwithstanding.

          Let me be more direct in posing these simple questions for your answers:

          What is the status of Vzla’s RR system currently in rehabilitation? How many Kms have been rehabilitated? When is the balance projected for completion?

          Likewise, What is the status of the RR system that’s under construction? How many Kms have been completed? When is the balance projected for completion?

          And here’s an easy one, Shame: when was the map of the Socialist Plan for the RR system produced?

          Kms = kilometres
          RR = railroad
          Vzla = Venezuela

          • Question 1

            The part from Yaratigua to Barquisimeto is operating, just not open to comercial activity since it is not connecting anything.

            Its grand opening will likely be delayed until there are more destinations available.

            Question 2

            Construction progress on the Puerto Cabello to Encrucijada is 50%+
            The rest are 25%+

            Question 3

            Who cares?

            Question 4 (the one you did not ask)

            Yes there have been a ton of delays. The proyected line from Caracas to Encrucijada being a very grave delayed oversight, but its been funded at least clearing that hurdle for it to start.

          • ey, pichoncito soñador … Do you have any backup information from independent sources, to verify your pronouncements? Kinda like this one from the Colegio de Ingenieros that points out the utopia from, and now recognized by the government on another type of vialidad:

            Clearly you fear timelines and details that would satisfy those of us who have had quantitative training.

            Question 1. Bqsto to Yaratigua is but a sliver (I’d say, 8.5%) of the grandiose rehabilitation plans. Since that tiny tranche doesn’t even fully connect to Yaratigua, and isn’t commercially viable between these two points, I’d say rehab plans are not going well.

            Question 2. Of the grandiose construction plans, only 6% have been completed, according to you, (50% of an 11.77% completed tranche), with a vague 25% completion for “the rest”. Uh huh.

            Question 3. In the real world, when you produce a document projecting significant changes that involve infrastructure investments, you date that document, so as to give viewers an idea of the seriousness of those plans, and a realistic reference as to status — not as a hazy word, but as a muscle and a reference to “here’s-where-we-are-now”. Get it? So your evasiveness on this question of dating plans is very revealing, as is your lack of knowledge and experience with anything remotely connected to building.

          • Roads are a different subject

            50% of the entire line is completed check the IFE site for global advancement.

            Who cares about who drew a silly map?

          • @Shame:
            What part of independent sources for verification (of completed portions of utopic plans) do you not understand?

            Who asked about the person drawing your “silly map”?
            Repeat: What is the date of the drawing for the grandiose Socialist Plan…? For, in the pesky science of project management, about which you have no clue, dated documents matter.

            Stay in your incubator, pichón. You’re not ready for the real world.

          • Nobody cares about who drew a map, your hero MPJ drew a map for everything including the Lake Maracaibo bridge, nobody cares.

            As for “independent” sources, lol you paranoid soul, since it is all done out in the open why don’t YOU go there and start measuring what is built

  3. Only a few architects and “urbanistas” have openly discussed the big mess Chavismo is creating by having the new social houses (less than in times of Caldera II) be built without parks, without proper design for water systems, for hospitals, for police stations, for schools. This is a recipe for more crime, more chaos, more inefficiency, for more Chavismo.

          • There are a number of wooden materials going by different names ( e.g. sheetrock ) not really carboard which are commonly used in the US and the Caribbean in the building of house walls and under ceilings . They are easy to transport and manufacture and can be insulated to make them as lasting as brick and mortar . In the 60’s they were sometimes used by the govt to build rural housing in govt sponsored agricultural projects . I saw several houses built this way and they were actually very nice and livable . Even where the ouside structure is of brick and mortar these materials make excellent inner walls . If you live in the US and Canada the likelihood is high that your homes walls are built with this kind of materials.

      • You are right, there is no comparison. Caldera built more houses with oil under 10 $. Chávez built less with oil at a 100$. The inefficiency of Chavismo in handling state resources has no comparison. CAP was Norwegian compared to this mess.

      • Shame, can you assess current developments without fixating in previous administrations? An error is an error regardless of the previous actions. They are independent.

        The truth is that there is no view of Caracas or any other city as a whole. There is no 100 year, 50 year or 5 year plan for what the city should like. Those things are standard and this is what we ought to expect.

        Forget about the whole opposition vs government drama. Fruto Vivas is pro-chavez (or was) and we all here agree with him. In fact, in aporrea they mostly agree with him. Vivas is a gifted architect and a genius in human centered design and is bringing a great point. Farruco on the other hand is just throwing cash and trying to build as many houses as he can not to make people’s lives better, but to have a good house building record.

        It is so frustrating when we have these golden opportunities to create bridges and solve a common problem but instead we are lost in dogma.

        • I agree it could have been done better but Farruco has a point, Caracas is not growing, they are not busing people into Tiuna City. They are giving people that are living in shantytowns a home, with schools and public transport that is a net positive.

          Everything else is just nitpicking, no vehicle access? perfect public transportation they already have some Subway stations and the BusCCS is headed there.

          In the end the government is sloppy in its rush, but the destructive criticism is just annoying.

          • if a minister of planning of mine would say that urban planning is not reelevant i’d fire him immediatly, if you move people out the slums without building the schools they need, you are not solving anything

          • Its so funny that your justification for Chavismo is posting that he built houses or a school somewhere, as if were something revolutionary that a government invests part of its revenue on social spending (I´m pretty sure that even Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo built schools and houses in Equatorial Guinea and Lukashenko in Belarus), as if adecos haven´t built most of the infrastructure, universities, and many many housing projects existing in the country before with a lot less money, more efficiency, less fuss and propaganda. Chavismo does not get a free pass on efficiency, corruption or opportunity costs just because is building school or houses. The increased revenue after the oil boom compared proportionally with the results is just dismal.

          • did they build a standard school and high school as well?, the article you shared is about a school for special children wich are also needed and are short in number across the country

          • But that’s the thing. Vivas’ criticism is not destructive. He proposes actions. He is not just saying that Farruco is wrong, but in addition he advises on what should he be doing.

            A far more compelling and humane project would be to actually make the shantytowns, better. Give them services, security, libraries, schools, parks, etc. Those areas have a very rich social fiber that is shredded with these soviet style housing.

          • Except his proposal is that they should be bussed out of Caracas, he does not mean to say it, but basically that is what he is proposing. They are not leaving, it is not that easy to reverse the 50 year rural to urban migration.

            Shantytowns are also being upgraded, it is a comprehensive system going on. Even if it were just commie blocks they are still a very important upgrade to extremely dangerous shanty town, with low quality and lacking services.

            You might want to check the new cabletrain (2 stations will be inagurated on Saturday) and Cable cars being built in Petare and Filas de Mariche. They are an urbanization project.

          • They are not leaving, it is not that easy to reverse the 50-year rural to urban migration.

            Yes, it is easy, when
            (1) Oil generates windfall profits in the past 10+ years. Check.
            (2) The state encourages private enterprise to set up factories in more rural areas. Hello, the State destroys private enterprise/initiative, except those with allegiances to the State religion. The State does not want much involvement from private enterprise so that the State can control the population and its gratitude-to-voter-indices.
            (3) the state builds VIALIDAD to those rural areas. Hello? Hello? Not a lot going on here.
            (4) the state, in joint partnership with private enterprise, builds HOUSING in those rural areas. What? Private enterprise? Only if it has rojo rojito blood, if at all, omitting a focus on quality control, in favour of allegiances to the State religion.
            (5) Oversight keeps projects reasonably within budget and on time. Oversight? Oversight! How about corruption.

          • it is easy when (cont’d)…
            (6) The State builds proper systems of drainage, potable water, electricity, sewage ahead of housing, etc.
            (7) The State builds schools and hospitals, etc. in those rural areas.

            In sum…. If you build it (well) they will (surely) come.
            (Ray Kinsella paraphrased.)

      • A couple of my relatives are still living in those “cardboard barracks” and they don’t seem worse than the ones built by Chinese/Belorussians.
        But I suppose I don’t have your “revolutionary” eyes

  4. “How you can solve that? Starving to death inside a new home is still starving to death. How you can put a large amount of people, who don’t have a job?”

    Furthermore, how can you call it an ‘economy’ if a country’s exports have been plunging for over 10 years and most state-sponsored businesses operate in virtual bankruptcy? It’s insanity.

    • The best part of your link Syd, was the comments hahah they said it all, the makeup, the bold look á la Chavez, he probably got his PhD from the High Institute of High Thinking of his Highness Hugo :O

  5. When I went to Cacique Tiuna last year, what a lot of the residents told me they were worried about is that the contractor hadn’t finished the damn rainwater collection system: all the rain runoff from the hill behind the development would flow straight down through the buildings, and large cracks had already started to appear in foundations where the water had undermined the construction. This, mind-you, for buildings that were less than 2 years old at that point. Few people there seemed to really think the community would still be operating 5 years later.

  6. I don’t know why we say OK that is a Commie ( of course a TROPICAL one, like Miguel Otero Silva used to be) This government only has to go to… What do you think…all of them are friends or family. Fruto Vivas’ granddaughter is Irina, yes the chef ex-wife of Jorgito “El Huerfanito” ..Not only ideological reasons, or maybe because of ideology they get into be family?


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