Over 40% of subway employees aren’t showing up for work due to low wages and the Metro’s dwindling service conditions.

“12 years of service. I earn Bs. 130,000 each quincena ($0.72), my uniform is dirty, I need soap. I go out looking for it and find it at Bs. 195,000, fifteen continuous days of work to buy ACE, to go work for you. Learn to appreciate human talent, sincerity towards your employees, 3,000 of them are leaving. Open your eyes.”

That’s what Wuilis Rodríguez wrote on January 7 at 1:13 pm, both on his Facebook wall and on his Twitter account.

He needed to buy soap to wash his uniform. On the way, his daughter asked him for candy and he wanted to buy some for her. “I though the soap would cost Bs. 70,000 and the remainder of the quincena would be to please my daughter. It was Bs. 195,000 per kilo ($1.09, more than he earns) and I couldn’t buy her anything. I was so depressed by that, and that’s why I wrote on my social media.”

It was the first time Rodríguez used social media to protest. 15 days of work vanished on soap.

“I didn’t even mention the company in my tweet. But that was enough for them to fire me.”

Since the day he posted, the coworkers he met at Teatros station asked him whether he’d gotten the termination notice. Everyone in the Metro de Caracas is careful not to criticize the company (especially in public) for fear of reprisal. On Friday 12, a company lawyer visited him, putting and end to his days as Security Operator.

Rodríguez’ post resonated with the voice of many others who are still employed but are not protesting with their absence. Over 40% of employees aren’t checking in, discouraged by low wages, poor management and lack of investment in the system. The figure comes from the estimates of the company’s recently created Front of Employees, Retirees and Pensioners, an office that monitors daily job attendance in subway stations and compares it with the company’s internal records without anyone knowing, since those responsible for feeding the office its confidential data are full-time employees who could find themselves in Rodríguez’ situation any day.

A general collapse

The collapse is most evident in Line 1, which connects the city from west to east through 22 stations. 42 trains should do the route during rush hours, but they’ve only been able to use 18 for the past three months, due to staffing and technical issues.

“The trains are driven by my milicianos and operators who have been doing administrative work for years,” says Luis Bravo, who’s been working in the subway for fifteen years. “That’s why the problem is still not that obvious. We’re so discouraged, precisely because many of our coworkers aren’t reporting for work.”

Bravo (not his real name) is on an inter-daily watch. In order to arrive to his station, he pays a bus fair that’s almost 30% off his monthly salary.

42 trains should do the route during rush hours, but they’ve only been able to use 18 for the past three months.

“It’s barely enough. I don’t have money to go to the station sometimes.”

Others, Bravo said, are filing for medical leave or saying that they have academic engagements, or that they couldn’t make it work because they were queuing to buy food.

“They’re taking their leaves in compliance with the collective bargaining agreement and that’s why you see the empty booths,” he said.

On average, there should be between six and eight operators in a booth, two of them working on security like Rodríguez. If you see a sign on the booth’s window saying that there are no tickets available, that’s because there are no operators. The government owes them their wage hikes along with night-time and holiday bonuses.

No longer the great solution

The Metro was inaugurated 35 years ago with the firm goal of being “the great solution for Caracas” and it was, for decades. The debacle started in Chávez’ time, when qualified career employees were laid off in the aftermath of the oil strike. The payroll was filled with co-op companies and soon several pro-government operators filled the vacant posts.

300 operators have resigned in the last three months. 17 more did it last week, while many others haven’t returned to work from December holidays. On January 8, a system strike was announced and later denied by the company’s board.

The employees say that there’s no need to call for a strike because there’s been a technical strike for the past four or five months: the system has no maintenance, 90% of escalators and access tourniquets are out of order, the trains don’t have air conditioning, some stations have no lightbulbs or even security personnel.

300 operators have resigned in the last three months. 17 more did it last week, while many others haven’t returned to work from December holidays.

That’s why most employees chose to quit after their years of service, give away the severance pack, leave the country “or simply sell coffee in the street.”

“They make more money that way,” says Wuilis Rodríguez, who started working in the Metro in 2006 and used to support Chávez. “But this Maduro, who worked in the Metro, is destroying all of the country’s companies.”

A sad end for Metro de Caracas technicians, who trained operators in Medillín, the Dominican Republic, Panama and other countries in the region and now, they don’t even want to report for work, squeezed by poor salaries.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Why does it take the President of a company to terminate an employee?

    I still cannot get over those flashy signatures.

    • It’s symbolism.

      Its the same reason the IRS loves to go after celebrities… puts the fear of the Omnipotent Imperial Federal Government into the Ordinary Man, if they see the likes of Willie Nelson, Wesley Snipes or Wayne Newton getting their house confiscated on TV. “If it can happen to THOSE guys, it will happen to ME if I don’t do what I am told.”

      Right out of the Machiavelli playbook.

    • Because for chavismo, there’s no kill like overkill.

      Send the president of the company to fire am eployee for revealing that his salary isn’t enough to wash his uniform.

      Imprison and feed rotten food to anyone who dares to boo a revolutionary fat honcho.

      Bomb half of a town and straight up murder anyone who dares to protest against the dictatorship.

  2. You should remove the personal data of this person, if they read his tweets, or he was “sapeado” by a coworker that followed him, we shouldn’t make it easier for the goverment to punish dissenting voices.

    • The majority of pueblo-people may not completely believe anymore in the “Guerra Economica de la derecha fascita”, but they sure still love, adore and venerate Pajarito Supremo Comandante Chavez. Many still have his portraits in their living rooms. They blame “el gobielno de Maduro”, not Chavez. That’s how wise and highly educated the majority of the people left are.

      • How much do you like to ridicule the way some poor people speak in Venezuela,
        how often do you come here to say in English ‘el pueblo’.
        Precisely the kind of feudal, racist Latin American attitude that made things worse and make it more difficult to get rid of bloody chavismo

        • Sorry, but its the truth. How many times has some member of El Pueblo trotted before the camera to say, “I’m a Chavista 100%, I admit it… but if I don’t get my FREE STUFF, I might not vote for Maduro… next time”? They are not JUST ignorant, they are willfully ignorant.

          El Pueblo is reaping their just rewards.

          And, the schadenfreude keeps me warm. Bonus!

          • It would be kind of darkly hilarious that we are now singling out Caracas Metro workers for producing and sustaining chavismo, were this point of view not such a stark reflection of an attitude that has been so destructive to the social fabric of Venezuela in the first place, and such a boon to people like Chavez and Maduro themselves.

            Who exactly is reaping their “just rewards”? We could cast around for all sorts of folks, from all sorts of walks of life.

            https://www.chevron.com/worldwide/venezuela

            Lots of highly educated business oriented folks have done more under this regime, that has benefited this regime, and them, than drive a subway for crap pay.

            And I’d add, if you look at history, the fate of dictatorships often has more to do with whether public transport drivers and people like them decide they want to go to work, or not, than any other factor.

            So I’d suggest a little more sympathy for the metro workers and their situation. They have skin in the game, as you *plain spoken* well off guys of more noble stature like to say.

          • Chevron, lets use Chevron as your typical American bashing bollocks.

            Lets forget about the Chinese and the Chinese Development Bank scandals through Bandes, lets forget about Sinovensa or China CITIC. Lets forget about Ramirezs dodgy dealing for Junin1 and Junin 10, forget about the 8 Oil tanker ships that went south with Petrochina and PDV Marine.

            Lets not mention Russias consortium with Igor Sechin and the dodgy deal for Junin 6, dont mention Lukoil pulling out of the consortium, primarily due to financial irregularities with Rosneft and PDVSA, and for gods sake dont mention the pay to play $65 billion promised by Rosneft to Venezuela, up to 2022.

            So you pontificate about
            “Who exactly is reaping their “just rewards”? We could cast around for all sorts of folks, from all sorts of walks of life.”
            So it has to be Chevron and the Americans according to your stupid example, “who are destructive to the social fabric of Venezuela”

            You really do talk utter crap.

          • You’re putting words in my mouth again Crusader, which is one way to argue, but a poor way to convert. I suggest you get off your High Rocinante and read a little more carefully.

            Of course it is not just American private enterprise that has been involved in Venezuela during Chavismo. America has been, last I checked, the largest source of trade with Venezuela. But there are other examples including Canadian companies.

            But my point is, to single out Caracas Metro Drivers, or poor people, or people of a certain class, is a symptom of the problem and not a fair description of it.

            And men of your stature and discernment surely can do better than to stoop to the argot of el pueblo, no?

          • I was merely pointing out your very own example, which obviously parallels your own thought process, So tell me how i have put words in your mouth…..that clearly cant be the stance of your counter argument.
            Not “a man of your stature and discernment”
            Remember – facts do not have feelings.

          • Crusader, to be clear, you are saying that the propositions:

            (1) Chevron does business in Venezuela; and
            (2) its business in Venezuela is of benefit to the Chavez/Maduro regime.

            …is America bashing.

            What you are saying makes no sense. And depending on your point of view, it may not even be Chevron-bashing: did you read their website and all the social programs they support, the National Orchestra program, etc.?

            Here’s something that makes sense. Why don’t you tell me how you think (1) and (2) are wrong? Hey? Put the old noggin’ to work?

          • “Why don’t you tell me how you think (1) and (2) are wrong?

            One CANNOT, if they are a casual reader of CC.

            But anyone who is not, knows that when reading one of your responses, the USA is invariably a target of yours. Whether the GOP, Trump, Big Business, Crime, Social Programs, etc.

            So just saying “Chevon”, triggers the response, that you are the same old, same old partisan. Even in this case , when you now argue otherwise.

            Why is it that the USA is the big evil to you?

            I always ask the questions…..
            Of the 3 countries that dominate the world – China, Russia and the USA.
            Which one presently, does the better good overall in the world?
            If only 1, which system, values would you wish to live under?
            and
            For those unable to answer….
            Which country other than the above 3, do you think would do better? (but remember, that country would need to become a military behemoth, otherwise it will not last long, and will be looked upon by the other 200 countries in the world to take sides in each and every conflict.

            It is EASY to be critical. Difficult to be a critical thinker.

          • Whenever you feel tempted to blame “Juan Bimba”… remember “Los Notables”. Remember the “wise” scholar and two-times president Caldera justifying Chàvez’s coup. Remember that politics is money and that the Boultons, the Cisneros, the Oteros, the Carreros and many other “Masters of the Valley” with all their education, their whitney-white pedigrees, their British, Swiss, French and American top-tier education and all that B.S were the ones who actually financed and put Chávez in Miraflores, after sabotaging all attempts to dismantle the Petro-State and move Venezuela towards a market economy.
            Those guy’s wet dream was a guy like Chávez, a tyrant loved by the masses who would give THEM all the petro dollars… unfortunately for them and the rest of us, the “negro ese” had a genius monster for advisor and played them beautifully. Instead of giving THEM petrodollars, he ended up bringing Cubans, Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Bielorrusians and so on, made them richer and humiliated their whity-white princely asses.
            Masses are stupid in Germany, Japan, China, Russia or Venezuela. Elites are supposed to be much, much better than that.

        • Coddling ignorance and “el pueblo sabio” is a big part of why Venezuela’s in the hole it’s in today.

          • You can say ‘people’ instead of ‘pueblo’ or write all in Spanish, as ‘the people’ is very much the same, whether they have your skin colour or another one. Or do you get excited when you use the word in Spanish in the middle of an English sentence?

            In any case: the wisdom or ignorance of a group is not as telling as you might think. Just consider one of the most destructive movements in the XX century came from a nation with lots of very educated people, the engine of ideas of Europe and that nation could only get rid itself of the madness after other countries defeated it.

  3. there is in Venezuela a love of external formalities that comes with the culture when something is done officially , legalism of form is much more practiced than legality of substance ….which is mostly ignored or marginalized in peoples mind , the signature of the boss also serves him to show his bosses how zealous he is in defending the good name of the revolution ……..he wants to appear the really strict and fanatical revolutionary …., if workmen dont show up thats tolerated but a guy writes that his salary is not enought to meet his subsistence needs and he is fired !! appearances really count in our culture , and often they substitute for reality , you can see this in the importance the regime gives to how things are presented even if they flatly and openly contradict observed reality .

    Carlos Rangel in his celebrated book “Del buen salvaje al Buen revolucionario’ , talks about this , he points out how legal provisions in the US and the UK are usually more flexible and open than is the case for latin american laws which are very strict and unbending , but that when it comes to applying those very strict latam laws for the most part they are not applied or only applied half way while in the US those flexible laws are applied very strictly and rigorously ……..!!

    • Made me laugh. When my brother and his wife sailed their small boat around the world (from San Francisco), he invested $5 in a stamp and ink pad. The stamp was silly. Just the name of his sailboat, his name and title (Captain of course!), home port, and the hull number.

      At every third world country that they stopped at, the so-called maritime immigration staff would board with a ream of papers and stamps and make a big production of checking in him and his boat. My brother would pull out his $5 stamp and stamp all of their documents with it. They loved it. He would make a show of it, with a very stern expression, ink the stamp and carefully press it on whatever paper was in front of him.

      They skipped Venezuela. But I’m sure his stamped would have impressed them too.

      Didn’t mean a damn thing, yet It worked magic. Go figure.

      • This is hilarious. Perfectly exemplifies the stupidity of third world nations. The shittier the country the more papers you need to visit it, which is completely paradoxical.

  4. The Castro-Chavista Purge Plan working to perfection: You keep people dirt poor until they either quit, leave the country, or join in the multiple corruption Guisos available, thus becoming dependent and complicit, beggars and/or thieves themselves, as the vast majority of about 5 Million public employees already are: corrupt leeches participating in numerous Guisos, after about 4 Million of the best, honest people simply left the country.

    And enough about ridiculous “minimum salaries”. Sacamelo ya. Mysteriously almost everyone makes waaaaaayyyy more than the laughable “sueldos minimos. So enough about that, no se lo creen ni ellos mismos, almost everyone MUST be stealing, unless they are sustained by family members remesas from abroad Otherwise, please do the math for me. (Simple math: Income vs Expenses for a typical family of 7 ( 1 parent, 6 kids). And please don’t tell me the single mother works 3 jobs, including intricate Internet gigs in which the uneducated pueblo happens to be proficient now..)

    “Largate o Enchufate, compañero”. That’s the Purge Plan, Stan. Working to perfection on the Metro and everywhere else in Klepto-Cubazuela.

  5. It is hard for me to be sympathetic for him. He was evidently content to let others be fired for their “misdeeds”, but now they have come for him. Future generations will be paying for this ones stupidity in believing in a free ride. Until the realization comes that it was Chavez fault, there is no hope of a permanent recovery.

    • It’s hard to feel sympathy, but… While I strongly believe one of the many errors we made as a society was accepting and coddling Chavismo as a valid backlash to La Cuarta, I doubt any of the chavistas de a pie ever thought it could get this bad. So maybe this is the time to pull people in rather than say “I told you so, mardito”

      • So according to you Escualidus “Chavismo is a valid backlash”
        You just dont seem to understand, if, as seems to be the case, Chavismo was to supplant the Cuban methodology in Venezuela. Then they are wilfully commiting their plan to the letter.
        Your “ever thought it could get this bad” completely misses the point, this is what they want and support. You Escualidus can pull people in all you want…………then i will tell you “i told you so, mardito”
        That even today we have ridiculous opinions like yours stuns me truly.
        But then HRA who was voted deputy leader of Socialists International thinks he can be President, and fix everything with yet more socialism, so maybe this is a nation with ridiculous opinions!

        • I said “I strongly believe one of the many errors we made as a society was accepting and coddling Chavismo as a valid backlash to La Cuarta”. Work on your reading comprehension.

          • Love it.
            I should “work on my reading comprehension “(thats not how you would combine the two disciplines, but okay)
            “Chavismo is a valid backlash” and “ever thought it could get this bad” they were your words that i was paraphrasing, and i am pretty sure i comprehend what you meant, we actually have to attain some standards to be awarded our University Degree in England.
            So please Escualidus counter argue the points i made, thats how this whole thing works.

          • “Chavismo is a valid backlash”= Position that Venezuelan society accepted for years, and which I don’t condone.

            “Didn’t think it would get this bad”=Position I ascribe to rank-and-file chavistas, and which I also don’t condone.

            For what reason are you speaking to me as though I hold either opinion?

        • PS– No, I don’t believe undereducated, poor chavistas ever thought Cubanization was the endgame. Party members? Sure. Average chavistas? No. Which is why I support trying to bring them around now.

      • “While I strongly believe one of the many errors we made”
        WE is inclusive of YOU, tell me did you ever support PSUV.
        It certainly appears that you wish to be inclusive of them “this is the time to pull people in”
        If you are an apologist at this stage, then i believe you have truly stuck your colours to the mast, and yours seem quite red.
        Thats fine by me, you are entitled to your opinion.

        • After acknowledging that Oscar Perez and all his men were shot in the head in apparent executions, every Chavista is culpable for supporting the regime, making an excuse about levels of education is puerile and ridiculous.

    • Because chavistas are like that, coward pansies that never tell things up front, they’re always slinking from a side, throwing the rock and hiding the blood-stained hand, stabbing you in the back and so on.

      They’re pathologically cowardly.

  6. Bill Bass has struck into the core of the syndrome that has helped tank Venezuela: The obsession with appearance over substance. Maduro and co. attempt to have the appearance of a viable government, while the country is a failed state, plain and simple. Maduro and Delcy et al have not even reached the level of being wrong about anything – they are completely and utterly overmatched by the realities of running a country in 2018. When Maduro is confronted with the bleak realities of his country he responds with shows and rhetoric that give the impression of power and authority, but its all appearance, NO SUBSTANCE. Now he’s trying to create money (Petro) by his own terms with a faux currency that APPEARS as if it is more than another debt dodge. And the talks in the DR make Maduro appear to be willing to negotiate but WHAT of substance are they willing or even able to negotiate. Nada.

    The emperor has no clothes. Or money, or food, or medicine, or any wherewithal whatsoever. Taking this guy seriously, hoping for a serious response, is itself folly.

    What a shitshow. Such a tragedy to watch.

    • I would suggest that if by “appearance” you mean “pure intentions” and “commitment to ideals”, then I would agree with you. There are many “movements” throughout world history that sustain themselves in the belief that persistence in suffering and martyrdom will somehow lead to achieving something that cannot be won through any other kind of struggle. I have been waiting patiently for the Chavismo to be discredited by ordinary empirical evidence, but whatever happens before peoples eyes seems to be no match to ideological fantasies!

  7. I was blown away by the Metro when I first saw it in 1988. I lived in NYC, and although of course the extent of the VZ system was nothing compared to that, it was gorgeous and spotless compared to the subway.

    And Venezuelans treated it with respect.

    Is it still that way, or is it going in the direction of dirty and rundown, and people treat it like garbage?

    • Ira, your Metro story brings back memories of my first visit to Venezuela and first encounter with Venezuelan culture.

      March 1992, I had selected my country manager and was in Caracas with him for the first time. We were downtown one day and he asked if I wanted to see the subway, commented that it was very nice, modern, safe. Sure, let’s take a look. BTW, I spoke very little Spanish.

      He asked a guy on the street where the nearest subway station was located and the fellow gave instructions on how to get there. We walked the three or four blocks, left here, right there, etc but when we arrived, the place was closed. “Damn”, my buddy said. “I forgot the thing is closed on Sundays”.

      I quickly commented that the fellow who gave us instructions on how to get here must have known that it was closed as well. Why didn’t he tell us?

      My buddy replied, “because we asked him where the station was located, not if it was open”.

  8. I get a kick out of socialists who still think this is all the fault of “Big Business” and it couldn’t possibly be the selfish (“I need my free shit!”) idealism of the El Peublo.

    Same people who push this stuff are the ones who claim Obama foreign policies never hurt anyone. (I still have that one bookmarked)

    That guy (no longer) working at the metro should be honored that he got to serve the Chavistas as a useful tool for as long as he could. How ungrateful… Probably an agent for foreign terrorists. Your CLAP bag will be much lighter as a result next time.

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