Venezuela: Not so "chévere," by @xavi_dasilveira

What passes for "public transportation system" in Venezuela.
What passes for “public transportation” in Venezuela.

Today, I got hold of this open letter addressed to Tourism Minister Andres Izarra by a Uruguayan tourist named Javier da Silveira.

In its fifteen pages, he recounts his experiences during his recent one-month trip (from February 23rd to March 23rd of this year) to our “land of (dis)grace.” Even if you can say his unfortunate trip can simply be a case of “bad timing”, what is really surprising is how he describes the unbelivably awful treatment by public workers, most notably those working in the Tourism Ministry.

Just for starters, Da Silveira found out that Venezuela is a pretty difficult place… to research online. In order to do justice to his story, I’ll put quoted parts of his experience and how he tells Izarra about it:

First stop, let me tell you how difficult it was to find tourism-related information in the Venezuela “nation brand” website. It was not too detailed in the information it provides. More so if we talk about the multimedia elements like videos, which can only be accessed via prior registry – when in fact you do register, there’s only one video available. Another alarming issue is the lack of maps of cities and tourist sites. Only three cities have maps through the websites of the States’ Tourist Boards: Guanare, Mérida, and San Cristobal. Finding a map of cities like Caracas or Maracaibo is quite a challenge…”

There’s more. Mr. Da Silveira decided to go to the Tourism Ministry’s offices in Caracas in order to get a map of downtown Caracas, and other recommendations. Instead of a warm welcome, this happened:

When I got close to the building’s outer grille, a Ministry security guard went out and stopped me from entering, by barking at me: “What do you want?”. When I explained the reasons for my visit and the need for a city map, he responded “We don’t have any right now. Come back in 15 days”. The whole rude experience left a very bad impression of the treatment given by state offices to tourists like me, who want to come to Venezuela, even if it’s in an unsuitable situation for tourism.”

During parts of his trip, Da Silveira stayed in state-owned Venetur hotels in Maracaibo and Mérida, and basically confirmed what Peruvian journalists found out in Puerto La Cruz. What else can be expected of a hotel chain where partisan politics come first.

The whole letter is a must-read, specially the part in Tachira, when he got caught in the middle of an immigration quagmire. His TL is also very illustrative of the recent days in Venezuela. Check it out.

I don’t know if Minister Izarra has heard of the letter, but I’m sure he will find it delightfully amusing. However, I can say this: When Bolivia’s tourism ads are way better than ours, that speaks volumes.