Last Monday, the state of Aragua was struck with disaster. After weeks of heavy rain, many of the rivers that flow from the Henri Pittier National Park flooded, leaving, so far, nine dead and several missing, cutting off Choroní from the rest of Aragua State and affecting over 600 families.

The narrow, infamous road that connects Choroní with Maracay, the state capital, was restricted by a landslide and, although the nearby Romero and Tremaría areas were affected, the actual town of Choroní was spared the catastrophe.

Government control over information has been almost airtight, making it impossible for reporters to, um, report, so journalists are left to quote tweets from the national director of Civil Protection, the state governor and the PSUV governor candidate Rodolfo Marco Torres. Because what’s a disaster if you can’t take advantage of it?

Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez, journalist and activist, says that, as many other times, any information that doesn’t come directly from an official government source, including witness accounts, is being being treated as rumor. This includes the number of missing people.

“It’s ironic” Jeanfreddy says, “that for four days they’ve been searching for people missing, but they insist on downplaying the incident. Sources claim that there are between 16 and 30 people missing but, officially, they’re ‘lost’.”

Soon after the landslide, there were “rumors” of food shortages, fallen power lines, and serious damage on the road, so the effort to feign normalcy backfired. According to a Whatsapp testimony — published by SIBCI, of all people! — these issues aren’t the aftermath of the flood: It’s just how Choroní is.

The small towns along this coast, like Ocumare de la Costa and Cata, are generally overlooked by the government, despite the income they bring from fishing and tourism. Chuao, the village that grows what has been called the finest cocoa in the world, is right next to Choroní.

Technically, Choroní is not an independent town, but a parish of the Girardot Municipality, meaning it heavily relies on Maracay for services and communication, while providing tourism income. Of course, this is trouble when emergencies happen.

“There are two protective measures ruled by the Supreme Court and one by the State Legislature; none of them have been applied.”

On Wednesday, two days after the landslide, the government deployed a contingency plan involving 250 Civil Protection agents and 350 other agents, including forest rangers, the National Guard and the PNB, who deliver resources through Consejos Comunales.

So far, over 900 tourists have been evacuated from the town and taken to nearby Ocumare, after being stranded for several days. But there are many problems with the town’s infrastructure: the water system is a couple of decades old and a few years back, the townsfolk protested its collapse. Power is no better. The grid traverses the extensive, mountainous national park that separates Choroní from the city, and blackouts are common, lasting for days. In Choroní, this can mean up to three days per week in the dark. This, of course, translates into a declining tourism industry which, according to a local hotel owner, is down 40% compared to previous years.

And it’s not like these beach towns have remained quiet. Blackouts in Ocumare de la Costa, the largest seaside community in Aragua, which heavily depends on fishing, spurred the fishermen to throw rotten fish to local offices of the state-run power company. The second time, they set the town hall on fire.

Yet, Ocumare, Choroní and other communities in the Aragua coast remain steadfastly chavista.

Though you can’t blame the authorities for heavy rain, you can’t help but point to the busted Choroní levee, which may have caused the roadblock, and the irresponsible farming and deforestation, all of which contributed to the landslide.

“There are two protective measures handed down by the Supreme Court and one by the State Legislature; none of them have been applied” says Jeanfreddy, who is heavily involved with local environmental groups. “And don’t forget about the lack of warning systems or community training.”

In a country falling apart, tragedy goes from news to monotony very easily. But the gubernatorial neglect is known too well and it now includes Choroní, a place that most, despite the crisis, still associate with a carefree beachside weekend.

Paradise indeed.

27 COMMENTS

    • Good story! Many agents were involved in that deception, and many consider it one of the dirtiest episodes on the part of the Allies. See the movie, “Fall From Grace” and the book “The Paladin”. One would hope Garbo found a picturesque and peaceful place to finally rest.

      • The Paladin (1981) by Brian Garfield is a work of fiction, bearing very little connection to real history.

        Fall From Grace (1994 TV movie) is also fiction.

        Authors and screenwriters invent sensational stories to attract readers and audiences.

        • D-Day is also fiction – a movie.

          I didn’t look very far for the basis of the movie, but the book was based on fact.

          I really don’t see the relevance or usefulness of your comment attempting to undermine the extremely brave men and women who gave so much of their lives as spies.

          • Garbo’s story was top secret until 1984, when Nigel West(Rupert Allason) found him thanks to the wartime snooping by a member of the Cambridge Five (Anthony Blunt.) The movied “Our Man in Havana” (1959) is a comedy that is based on Graham Greene’s knowledge of the Garbo case from his work with british intelligence during the war, but at the time nobody knew the book/movie was based on the real-life story of Garbo!

          • Pilkunnussija – Ever hear of Alan Turing? Not a spy, but a mathematician: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-alan-turing-cracked-the-enigma-code
            The whole spy thing … I tried watching “Smiley’s People” based on John Le Carre … I couldn’t even keep track of what was going on in the movie! One short trip to the kitchen for tea, and I lost the thread of everything, didn’t know who was “friend” who was “enemy” who was working for whom, where, when, under which circumstances …. Garbo is very famous.
            But it all comes down to goodness of heart, soundness of mind, and that’s what rules the world – or tries to at least maintain it. Hopefully, in Venezuela, that will win the day.

          • Yes, 2014’s movie “The Imitation Game” got a lot of attention, and the Turing test has become very discussed in the context of advancement of Artificial Intelligence. By the way, there apparently is now in production a movie called “The Garbo Project” with Oscar Isaac(Star Wars: The Force Awakens, X-Men: Apocalypse,) so more people will be learning about Juan Garcia Pujol!

    • Thank you for the “FYI” on Garbo….More than likely, his exploits have not been fully recognized. Bletchley Park (Turing himself) would have jumped at the possibility of a “brute force” attack on Enigma (and probably did).

      The cracking of Enigma was a fundamental advantage the Allies had against the Axis and no doubt, the reason of many battles successful outcome (in both fronts). V-E arrival was shortened by many months and countless lives were saved.

      Hats off to Mr. Pujol….he deserved military honors.

  1. Que vaina.. .

    http://efectococuyo.com/secundarias/posaderos-de-choroni-aseguran-que-en-el-pueblo-hay-normalidad

    The infamous Klepto-Cubazuelan Boiling Frog Effect in full swing : “laj autoridade’ tienen la situasion baho control, chamo” no hay mucha venta pero gueno..”.. The wise ‘ pueblo’ people perfectly used to life under Chavismo by now. 18 years and counting.. ” vamos mi pana.. a prepaparal esos peñeros, bujcate unos fusiles que que ahi vienen los Gringos a invadil Choroni y la patria!.. “el gobielno y laj ‘autoridadej’, los ‘ofisialej’ del ‘Ejtado ya vienen a componel ejto,… ‘ pathetic.

    ———————————————————————–

    What a shame, I remember so many trips to beautiful Choroni, camping for weeks under the stars in that amazing beach, tambores at night, typical village with friendly locals, and the hidden “tobogan” jumps at the ‘Lajao’ river, awesome cascade, dangerous but spectacular drive up and down the mountain.. it was great.

  2. It’s hard for me to pay attention to this:

    I’m still laughing after watching videos of the military exercises going on to stave off a U.S. invention.

    Half of these soldiers look like my my grandfather, and the other half, like my grandmother.

        • I wonder how many of those taking possession of a firearm are actually trained or if they are just a bunch of air-soft/bb guns.

          Civilians tend to run quickly from a battle and don’t take orders well at all. They are not a practicing militia or “guard”.

          And since Chavez/Maduro ban civilian ownership of firearms, and all hunting with firearms (even shotguns) is forbidden, I can’t see them mount a serious effort to stop an angry squirrel let alone a trained US Marine.

          Reality is that the US Military is not going to invade. There is no need to. VZ will self-implode at some point. Either through military attrition/leaving their posts, or a long-overdue civil war.

          They should be handing out CLAP bags instead of pretending the US is going to invade.

          • Funny.

            There’s a video on YT (don’t have link) which is titled something like:

            “What three meals a day can do compared to one CLAP box a month.”

            And it shows a comical militia guy like I linked above intercut with a U.S. marine.

    • I like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3a1EjH3dcE
      And then there’s this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hujvVmuLuoM
      (Also with two balloons in it.)
      Granted, it’s not a fair comparison, since Bob Munden is not a general, and he is acknowledged as the quickest. But there are other who can come close. There’s an indoor video of the balloon shoot – you watch the real-time video and hear one shot, but two balloons burst. They have to slow it down a lot, to r-e-a-l-l-y slow, then you hear and see the two shots. As amazing as surfers taking on the big waves.

  3. What do matter a bunch of dead men, women and children if the chavista heroes such as delcy can keep buying 2000 euros purses?

    That’s a very little price to pay for the wellbeing and comfort of the new liberators of Venezuela, the people should be bashing their teeth away with stones before even daring to utter their sacred names!

  4. And then this: “Venezuela destinará 5 millones de dólares para apoyar a afectados por Harvey en EEUU”

    Appearances of a prosperous country must be kept…

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