Photos by Javier Liendo

When I was a kid, I lived with my family in a quiet slum near the road to El Junquito. My dad was a metalworker and he set up a workshop in our backyard, so my afternoons were often filled with the sound of his welding machine, his hammering, sawing and drilling, and the AM radio station buzzing with the voice of Jorge Negrete, Alfredo Sadel or YVKE Mundial’s iconic newscast.

I grew up watching him turn steel tubes into all sorts of contraptions. His specialty were grill doors, bar windows, parking-lot gates and fences, which he often transported and installed himself. He had all sorts of clients: houses, office buildings, schools, you name it. He was never short of orders, everyone was always in need of these things. They wanted to protect their property as best they could, so they raised sturdy concrete buildings with two or three metal doors, each with a different key. Some were surrounded by brick walls topped with razor-sharp broken bottles or pointy fences, and every window was covered with its own set of bars.

They speak of fear, of loneliness and distrust; of people who can’t rely on the protection of the State and must fend for themselves.

In films and on TV I’d see how people lived in other countries, in pre-made wooden houses with a single door and open windows. It never occurred to me that there was something strange or wrong about how we lived.

As years went by, the broken bottles were increasingly replaced by razor and barbed wire. Private areas originally open to the public were surrounded by grill walls and electric fences, and entire neighborhoods started to fill with security cameras, code locks and magnetic doors.

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Taking these pictures, I mused about the impact this has on us. Even though we’ve grown accustomed to these fortifications and think them necessary, they don’t inspire safety. We’ve raised custom-made prisons around us to defend ourselves from strangers and, doing so, we’ve made our streets and neighborhoods more unwelcoming for everyone.

Perhaps one day, the walls will come down, the fences will be dismantled and the metal doors will be left open without fear of crime and violence. Perhaps there will come a time when we can rely on our authorities once more and regain trust in our fellow citizens. For now, however, Venezuelans must keep watch and shut ourselves from the outside, in an attempt to live as normally and securely as possible in this hostile land we call home.

87 COMMENTS

  1. I remember visiting my wife’s family for the first time in Venezuela, back in the late 1980’s. I hadn’t traveled much outside of the States, and seeing the world as it was was enlightening.

    Seems every house/business had bars on the doors and windows, including theirs. “What happens if there is a fire? How do you get out?”

    “You don’t” was the answer. “Its a game of percentages. It is very unlikely that there will ever be a fire, especially since the house is made of brick. However, it is very likely that we would be robbed of everything if there were no bars on the windows and doors.”

    I grew up in rural South Dakota. I now live in suburban Minnesota. No bars on doors or windows, unless its a sporting goods store or pawn shop (guns).

    Things are very culturally different, despite the fact that everyone, everywhere craves security in their lives. The vast, vast majority of Americans wouldn’t dream of breaking into a house under any circumstances. Our doors are frequently unlocked at night. Heck, we once went on vacation and forgot to close the front door… all that was between our belongings and the public was a screen door. Now that most of my wife’s family is living nearby, they are having a hard time believing how “safe” it is, comparatively. They can’t get over how most homes these days (I am a home builder) have front porches on them, so neighbors can meet neighbors when they go on a walk.

    I sincerely wish Venezuela had that.

    • I grew up in Caracas, accustomed to living with fences, barred doors and “santamarías” everywhere. What I could never get over, though, is related to your point re: “what if there’s a fire?”, and how people would / will typically answer: “tranquilo chico, si hay fuego eso se abre en un momentico”.

    • Same here in SoCal. I don’t even know where my front door key is. It has a lock that came with the door, 40 years ago. I honestly can’t recall ever locking it once.

      My wife is Aussie. And it took her years to get used to idea of not locking up the house and car all the time. It used to freak her out because petty crime is so common in Australia (At least in the bug cities). When she moved over here and I told her that I don’t have a key to my house she thought I was lying to her.

      I explained to her that anyone dumb enough to walk into an occupied American home runs the risk of meeting the business end of a firearm. And only the really, really dumb ones would think it is worth the risk.

      Now that being said, I do have a screen door. Otherwise I will come home and find a raccoon, possum, bear, or mountain lion rummaging the trash. And that would not be fun.

      • Luxury. I live in an Alaskan town on a polar bear migration path. One got cold one night, broke down the four-inch thick oak front door with her shoulder, clawed the front of my refrigerator open, ate all the food, popped open the cans in the larder and ate those, too, then crawled into bed with me! Darn they smell. This one snored, and was a blanket hog, to boot! Kicked her out at daybreak. No, I didn’t.

          • Man wanted to join an Alaskan native tribe, so they told him he had to go wrestle a polar bear and make love to an Alaskan woman. He took off into the snow, came back a week later, clothes torn, bloody, bruised, but alive. “OK. Where’s that Alaskan woman I’m supposed to wrestle?”

          • Heard a version of that joke involving a gallon of peppered tequila, a rabid pit bull with a tooth needing extraction, and making love to a 99 year old spinster woman… a classic!

  2. The worst kinds of prisons are mental prisons, where most Venezuelan people left in Kleptozuela dwell. They are made of massive Ignorance and Castro-Chavista Brain-Wash, Galactic Under-Education, if any.

    Few people, – as the artistic author of this post or the 4 Million of mostly educated Venezuelans who left – were lucky to escape such mental prisons and “muse about the impact” they had on us. We were able to travel, open our minds, form our own opinions, appreciate freedom.

    Without tough laws, punishment and more real prisons like Ramo Verde, the wildly ignorant populace turns to crime, thus the need for “rejas” everywhere, as we call them in every street of Caracas’ carcass. No education means total lack of moral values, chaos, corruption, chavismo, prison: Kleptozuela.

    Blame it on 4 decades of alienation and horrible education for most average pueblo-people under Ad/Copey, the previous MUD. That’s what gave rise to Chavismo, massive ignorance, crime, corruption and the miserable mental prisons they live in.

    • Exactly, and that is why we see the landscape of Kleptozuela everywhere we look…it is because of the kleptozuelans.

      None of this will be solved unless you have a law and order regime that has the balls to go to war with the malandros.

      Nevertheless, Venezuelans are completely incapable of organizing civic groups to defend themselves. Venezuela is a complete basket case full of chismosos who are full of hot air and zero action. People many times know who is stealing from them and their neighbors, but they do nothing about it. Thus the impunity here stems not only from the corrupt police and judicial system, but also from the fact that very few people left have a pair of balls to stand up for what is right.

  3. “They can’t get over how most homes these days (I am a home builder) have front porches on them, so neighbors can meet neighbors when they go on a walk.”

    So true El Guapo. Most US homes, especially in small-towns, have a welcoming atmosphere. Here they say, “stay the fuck away”. LOL

    Growing up in S. Louisiana, the keys to mom’s car and dad’s pickup never left the ignition switch. The house wasn’t ever locked, even at night that I recall. Anyone could walk up into the garage where our toys, bikes, and all sorts of other valuables sat.

    Yeah, it’s certainly different today, mostly because of drugs, but I can imagine that many farming communities in the US are still much like El Guapo described.

    Here, we have to remove the light bulbs from the front of the bodega each morning or they get stolen while we’re not watching.

    • Back in ’74 I spent some time testing the aquifer at the site of what is now the River Bend Nuclear Power Station, north of Baton Rouge (Saint Francisville). One day the trunk of my rental car was “broken into” (actually we all left the keys in the ignition). Nothing taken, but some construction guys thought it would be clever to add a live armadillo to my luggage. Nothing like a pair of beedy eyes staring at you when you get back at the hotel.

      Some of those guys carried strange toothpicks in their shirt pockets. They claimed they were dried armadillo penises. To this day I don’t know if they were pulling my leg.

      • They weren’t kidding Lorenzo, though more likely what they carried was the penis bone of a raccoon. Not sure if armadillos have them, but raccoons most certain do as well as many other mammals including dogs and most primates.

        Go here to see a photo of a raccoon baculum:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baculum

        Beautiful and historic country north of Baton Rouge along the river.

        • You are correct, they were most definitely Raccoon baculum.

          Did some bar hopping while I was there and ran into James Mason, totally shit-faced. They were filming the movie, “Mandingo” on one of the local plantations.

          Agree. Beautiful country. And good Cajun cooking, even that far north.

        • On my first trip to VZ, I got a riding crop made out of a bull’s penis. Not kidding.

          How could I resist, but I threw it out several years later.

  4. Years ago our home got robbed , the method of enthrance wasnt the most sophisticated they just forcibly broke down the main door ,went straight to the main dormitory , sacked it and didtnt bother with anything else , it was noon of an ordinary saturday , nobody was home except the live in maid and she claimed that on hearing the ruckus ,out of fear she just shut herself up in her room . After that experience one is left traumatized so we made our home into a veritable cage , with barrs , alarms and armoured locks all over the place ( irony :after the thieves had taken whatever we had of value) . That was a time in which different homes in our block were robbed so I and one of the robbed neighgors went door to door to convince people in our block to set up a private Guard house , everyone opposed the idea , no body wanted to have anythng to do with it , for starters it was illegal……., we didnt give up , we made a budget of how much it would cost and left it at the door of our neighbors, and came visiting a second time , this time around every body agreed with the idea and offered their collaboration . Since them ( a great many years have passed ) there have been no additional robberies in our block , the expense has gone up because paying our trusted door keeper keeps getting more expensive but most people think it a blessing that we have that protection …….!!

    Dont think that we will ever go back to a situation where people can live openly unguardedly and without barred windows and doors in shut in streets , is become an essential element of our daily lives , crime may be contained and assumme a less virulent form some time in the future , but the scarrs of our fear are always there , and that fear has a long long shadow..!!

    • Bill Bass, that is exactly what we need to see more of here: organization at the grassroots level. Easier said than done in most cases, but regardless this is the truth.

      My girlfriend is having a problem in her neighborhood with a 15 year old chamo who is stealing batteries, car parts, ac parts. Most every car in her small apartment complex has been broken into. There is an auto repair shop (open air, Venezuelan barrio style) that is virtually shut down because his clients are always having their car parts stolen. Everybody on the block know who is doing this. One lady even got into a fist fight with the kids mom, but this still has not solved the problem. Furthermore, because it is a working class neighborhood, it is impossible for people to pay extra for the condominio to repair the electric fence. Even more, my girlfriend is the head of the condominium and just getting people to meet over the security situation is a challenge and you can never bring consensus.

      In essence, because here apartment complex is your typical Venezuelan basket case–and everybody is waiting for a cacique to solve all their problems–I am going to have to get this organized by paying a cop who plays on my former football team to go meet with the neighbors first and then go pay a visit to the malandro household. I want him to tell those scumbags that everybody in the neighborhood knows you are doing this; we know there are stolen goods in your household; if anything happens on this street: we know who did it!!; And if this ever happens again, there will be hell to pay!!!

      I might pay a little extra just so he can drive by real slow a few times a week just so they stay nervous.

      A few months later, I want to pay a malandro to show up their house and spray paint: “FUERA LADRONES!!!” On the side of their house.

      In a country where there is no hay justicia, you got to make si hay for yourself and your community.

      • We have one here Guacharaca, though he’s no kid, an adult, and he steals anything of value he can get his hands on. Townspeople call him “hombre de la noche”. Stole the battery out of my tractor years ago before I had dogs protecting the place at night.

        I long for the night I catch him on the premises. I’ll kill him on the spot if I have the opportunity and I not only won’t get in trouble for it, I’ll be a hero.

        Like the guy says, that mother fucker needs killin’.

        • MRubio is quite a distinguished gentleman. In addition to not being the Senator from Florida, he is a Bodega operator, farmer, builder of houses (for now, we may soon discover he also builds commercial buildings, bridges, factories, and luxury hotels). He is an oil & gas industry expert, economist extrodenare, philanthropist, crime expert and crime fighter. I have no doubt left a few things out. Ohhh….he does all this while posting 20 times a day. Every day!!!

          • And you’re obviously an indisguinusable idiot who knows nothing.

            You’re a pimple, a blister and a wart compared to the accurate information he posts here. Because after all…

            You only posted criticism of him, but obviously too fucking stupid to debate anything he’s said in specifics.

      • “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (Second amendment to the U.S. Constitution, just in case anybody doesn’t know. I put some emphasis on the right to form a well regulated Militia. Somehow, a Homeowners’ Association or Condo Cooperative just doesn’t quite carry the same weight – those in fact seem to not coordinate with the notions of a free state. Owning weapons doesn’t mean using them all the time to go out and shoot up baby carriages so you can steal candy. Would-be criminals think once only when they know the owners are armed.)

          • Ira, check the facts.

            Canada and Australia, for example, have a significantly higher population of immigrants as a percentage of the total population than the USA. Germany is roughly on par with the USA. In Canada’s major population centers, large majorities of the population are first or second generation. Canada’s violent crime rate is a fraction of the USA, as are the other countries Kepler mentions.

            The USA is going to have to significantly increase the number of immigrants if it wants to support these unproductive angry old white men who opine about the failings of “Latino culture” and whatnot.

            If you are lucky, you and your four Trumpista buddies here will be going under for your heart bypasses or hip replacements and your Venezuelan surgeon or Mexican nurse will have to listen to your delirious ravings about how latinos have invaded the hospital and are planning to steal your wallet and your phone…

          • Google up the statistics and you will find that 52% of the homicides in the US are black on black, yet the black population is only 12% of the total population.

            Yes, we have a problem. Maybe we should ban gun ownership among blacks?

          • “Google up the statistics and you will find that 52% of the homicides in the US are black on black, yet the black population is only 12% of the total population.”

            And I’d bet that something on the order of 90% of those blacks who commit the homicides against other blacks grew up in single parent homes, yet another casualty of well-meaning but disastrous leftist policies.

          • “Unproductive. Like the guy you voted for and many more people did not.”

            You mean this guy?

            “The week started off with the Dallas Fed saying, “We may not like the way things are communicated and the division in the country, but the policies are improving conditions for the workers and employers.”

            “Then the Atlanta Fed came out and predicted GDP growth of 5.4 percent for the first quarter. That’s the greatest number in years. The economy is exploding on rocket fuel.”

            That guy?

          • There are vast differences within these country’s murder rates as well. For example, in the west of Canada (Alberta-Sask.) the rate is typically 3-4:100,000 while in the US state of South Dakota, as recently as about 1990? there were no murders, and the rates typical of the north central US states are about the same as Canada’s west. If you move to some of the more drug addled areas of the USA, rates are similar to Jamaica, 40:100,000 where officially there are no citizen owned guns allowed and it’s as far from being a Second Amendment type of place. It’s important to measure between similar areas with vast outcome differences. If immigration levels are going to be considered, have a look at southern Calif. In Los Angeles the rate is now about 7:100,000 and in the early 1990’s it was 21:100,000 What changed?

          • “Google up the statistics and you will find that 52% of the homicides in the US are black on black, yet the black population is only 12% of the total population.”

            And I’d bet that something on the order of 90% of those blacks who commit homicide against other blacks were raised in single parent homes, yet another casualty of well-meaning but disastrous leftist policies.

          • Gee Kepler, you can actually find some countries out there that have lower homicide rates than the US?

            And what, exactly, does that prove, other than that the USA does not have the lowest homicide rate in the world?

          • I can’t believe I’m getting into this “click-bait”. It is not about gun ownership at all, but about an attack on the U.S. Constitution by those who live in fear of free men – and that’s all it is. The correlation between those who breathe, and those who commit murders, is extraordinarily high.

            Outside of curiosity, I consider this a waste of time, digging up numbers to refute specious “arguments” BUT: Here’s a page that covers some statistics in a responsible manner: https://crimeresearch.org/2014/03/comparing-murder-rates-across-countries/

            The text differentiates between “guns per 100 population” and “gun ownership by household” (some people collect guns, from functional to antiques to showpieces – Switzerland reports lower ownership because households required to have weapons + ammo have “government owned” machine guns, and that’s the same for Israel). The article differentiates between “death by guns” “homicide” and “murder” (“homicide” includes various types of homicide, such as “justifiable homicide” by a police officer shooting someone who was about to drive a moving van into a crowd). It breaks down localized areas to some extent (51% of murders in the U.S. were in the worst 2% of counties – meaning that you have localized high crime areas) [insert wisecrack about Honduras – e.g. let’s correlate DRUGS and murders, and see what happens].

            I didn’t read the whole thing, but I wonder if they include, somewhere, that people who want to kill will find a way to kill (e.g. “Ban Trucks and Stop Terrorism!”) Just read an article about a billionaire and his wife found hung by men’s belts, at their swimming pool. “Ban Belts!” I also didn’t read whether terrorist attacks count as murders, but from other reading, apparently the majority of murders (one person out to kill another) are people who know each other, or are even family members. “Ban Families!”

            Iceland has the lowest reported murder rate – privately, I think that may be because there are only 350,000 people in all of Iceland, so everyone kind of knows they’d get caught … and probably it is too darn cold to think about killing anyone (even if you hate them their body heat averages in to raise the temperature a fraction of a degree). And they’re worried about volcanoes and beached whales.

            Personally, I feel more comfortable around armed men. That surprised me, when I first experienced it.

          • Btw, just in case: no offense at all intended to any who replied refuting the guns and murders thing. I may not have chosen my words very carefully. Many here pulled up the same points that are in the article I linked to on crime watch statistics.

          • Canucklehead:

            Seriously, how fucking stupid are you? What do immigration percentages based on population have to do with anything? That’s really a retarded, worthless way of looking at things.

            Canada’s population is nothing compared to the U.S., and they have a VAST untouched land resource. But the U.S., with vastly less untouched resources, is supposed to accept 10 times as many immigrants just based on its population? (And I would love to hear what you think CHINA would do!)

            My God, you’re a fucking idiot, but I never fully realized it until not.

          • Are Gringo and Gringo 2 the same poster?

            Seriously…this makes no sense.

            How could someone post as Gringo, and another poster takes Gringo2?

        • Wow shitloads of posts when a leftie chimes in lol. Nevertheless, if you live in Venezuela long enough and you are actually a productive citizen who is worth a shit, it is impossible to be a leftie. IMPOSSIBLE!!!

          Hey Gringo, yes, the second amendment is what we need more than anything here in Venezuela. Virtually only the bad guys have guns here–Chavez took our guns! Yet the Colectivos and the malandros are armed to the teeth… And if you have a gun it was grandfathered in or it is an illegal gun.

          As far as the debate on gun control in the USA, yes, most of it is black on black and you cannot deny the statistics, even with the very thick blinders of political correctness. Cant explain this away.

          Nevertheless, the scum do a good job of taking out themselves, whether it is black on black, white trash on white trash or wetback on wetback. Thugs kill thugs and that is true the world over, and it just happens there is a lot of black thugs in the USA (and like MRubio said most of those thugs grow up without a father and are left to roam on the streets–exactly what we are facing here in Venezuela with a bunker crop of hijos de putas gracias a chavez)

          99% of Venezeulans would give their left nut to live in peaceful suburbs like in el imperio where you do not have to lock your doors night or leave shit in your front yard without your neighbors stealing it.

          So lets treat the rejas not as something that is just a part of life here, but as a symptom of a larger problem that we have to solve.

          Maybe I have just become a hardened asshole from living here too long and being held at gunpoint too many times, but I think a better Venezuela begins with quite a few dead malandros.

        • As a visitor to Venezuela I am sick of being scared of people with guns; they are everywhere. In Venezuela, more guns does not make one feel safer. Across-the-board civilian, police and military disarmament is needed – alongside, maybe, such trifling things as meaningful education and civic responsibility and sound economic policy.

          If this sounds like hippy bullshit take a step back and ask what is everyone scared for all the time here? Never have a felt more scared than here in Venezuela and I’m invariably scared of people who menace freely with guns. What does having all this military and police achieve? The answer is, I believe, largely nothing, and they are problems in-of-themselves.

          This place could be paradise if not for all the dickhead men (military/police/regular-civilian-criminals) menacing the unarmed populace.

          Venezuela already has militias in the form of collectivos and how is that working out? It will take a cultural shift and international experts to rid the country of the damaging macho gun culture. I would say the gun/military culture and lack of a working criminal justice system is one of the gravest issues a better Venezuela has to deal with.

          Let’s hope the returning emigres to the future Venezuela bring some fresh ideas to fix this.

  5. I lived in Venezuela for almost 20 years and finally bailed out in mid 2015. The last 10 or so years there it felt like I was the prisoner, living in a jail while the criminals were free. My company wanted me back in the office in Canada once every 6 weeks or so for 2 or 3 days.

    I usually took the United flight to Houston and got to know many of the crew and pilots who worked the route. Once one of the pilots told me that if they ever had an emergency leaving Maiquetía once they got over 20,000 feet on that climbing left bank they could get to Aruba or Bonaire. I always felt that I had left the prison of Venezuela for a short time after the flight finished the left bank and continued its climb…at that point I felt free for a few days until the dreaded return.

  6. The oil companies, in 20-20 hindsight, should have noticed more of the “rejas” (bars) and wondered what they were about. I always thought they were very attractive, very decorative, finely crafted architectural features. You see them on very old (historic) houses, too. Ironic that with such protection of private property … maybe that’s why socialism finds it easy in LatAm, come to think of it. People rely on the physical barriers, instead of emphasizing moral character and principles.

  7. I live in Upstate NY, just east of Syracuse. In 2016 Syracuse set a new record of 31 murders. Although I live only 20 miles east, the county that I live in will routinely have years pass without a murder being committed.
    Unlocked doors, keys left in vehicles, knowing who your neighbors are and the general expeience of a safe society is the enironment my children grew up in.
    The culture shock that they experienced in Sao Paulo Brazil is something that they will never forget. Although they had traveled quite extensively, nothing prepared them for the conditions. The criminals have control of the city and the law abiding citizens are in self imposed prisons. Living behind gates and guard shacks. Unable to roll down a car window in traffic for fear that the criminals on motorcycles will reach into the vehicle and rob the occupants.
    When our friends in Sao Paulo told them that they avoid Rio De Janeiro because of the crime. It was hard to believe that anything could be worse than the area that they lived in at the time. Even though it was considered a relatively safe area of the city.
    This criminal activity isn’t solely a Venezuelan problem. It is a cultural norm in Latin American society. The top 10 most dangerous countries in the world according to the UN are either Latin American or Caribbean.
    If the issue of illegal immigration into the US was explained to the American People in this context, the argument that we must control our borders, would be much more easily understood by the people that do not live near the border areas and only think of illegal immigrants as people tat simply want a better future for themselves and their families.
    The culture of tolerating and participating in criminal activity is what the illegal immigrants are bringing into the US. The southwestern areas of the US are plagued by criminals that travel between the US and other countries with ease. The smuggling of people and drugs and the violence associated with these activities has put an incredible burden on many state and local governments.
    When President Obama directed the Justice Department to sue the State of Arizona for enforcing Federal Law that the Obama administration refused to enforce, the contempt that President Obama had for US law and border security, and his refusal to enforce US law showed that he would do anything to pander to the Latino Community. Regardless of the damage this did to US communities or the security threats that uncontrolled borders presented.

    • John, as I indicated below, American cities have been undergoing a rebirth. Violent crime in North America continues on a long, historical decline. Areas of New York, Detroit, Los Angeles for example, used to resemble places like Guatemala City. Good planning, social policy and improvements in law enforcement as well as changes in the economy have vastly altered those places for the better.

      The problem with drug crime is something no wall is going to address, and points to a set of failed policies that in fact have created vast markets for illegal drugs. You talk about a culture of crime in Latino communities but it is shocking for a Canadian or American how little illegal drug use there is in places like Venezuela and Mexico compared to the United States and Canada.

      A problem Americans have not yet addressed is the phenomenon of the angry, alienated (usually) white male with a gun that can inflict mass murder in seconds.

      A major problem hitting small town North America are opioids, and they can be purchased online and delivered through the mail.

      Net immigration from Mexico to the USA has also been in historical decline since NAFTA and recently hit net zero. But the policies the current administration has adopted to whip up populist furor are destabilizing Mexico politically and economically and will if they are pursued constitute an auto-goal of major proportions.

      I’d add, the fact is, and as any economic immigrant from Venezuela knows (Venezuelan “illegals”) American businesses are starved for people to perform unskilled labour. A bunch of Norwegians with engineering degrees won’t address that problem.

      • The problem isn’t legal immigration. We can take care of that quite easily, by opening our borders to the unskilled but LAW ABIDING immigrant. God knows, we need them in the building trades right now. The problem is the criminal element that MUST enter illegally.

        In regards to drugs, the vast majority of the problems we are now seeing is not just opioids (fentanyl manufactured overseas and muled in) but meth, manufactured on an industrial scale in Mexico/Central America and also muled in by illegals looking to earn a quick buck by selling their poison to eager consumers. And what does the illegal care if they get sent back? They are coming back anyway! Obama made sure of that.

        Compare/contrast that to the legal immigrant who must stay law abiding in order to stay and earn an honest living. So building a wall is one component, but enforcing the law is paramount. Which you will find very few bed wetting US liberals willing to do.

        • I thought “bed wetter” was an expression used to describe a person with irrational, disproportionate or invented fears, all of which would appear to me to describe the anti immigrant frenzy among the alt right and their neo nazi friends.

          • How come you never comment on Canada’s immigration control, which is far stricter for both legal and illegal immigration?

            That officials confiscate phones and read mails and texts for evidence of plans to overstay their tourist visas and live and work in Canada?

            How come you never comment about that, about Canada, while always criticizing American policy and never look at yourself?

            You voted for Trudeau, right?

          • Ira. Canada’s government is based on the British parliamentary system. It is impossible for me to vote for Justin Trudeau. Almost nobody in Canada can vote for Justin Trudeau. I didn’t vote for Justin Trudeau.

          • DING DING DING!

            Todays winner of the Godwin’s Law Award. Bravo, Canucklehead.

            Bed wetters refers to the whingeing, whining Leftists who see evil around every corner. Every perceived wrong in the world gets an “ism” added to the end of it and it becomes the cause du jour.

            The typical bed wetter will fly into histrionics at the slightest provocation, and if their temper tantrum/melt down doesn’t bring about the desired changes to the sterile life experience the bed-wetter seeks, they run to Big Government to assuage their outrage.

            You can set your watch by their outrage… like the sun coming up in the east and setting in the west, the bed wetter starts and ends each day accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being either a fascist or… as you were so kind to mention earlier… a Nazi.

            Thanks for playing.

    • Did you know that there is a state in the US which protects from prosecution banks that honour cheques signed with a signature ostensibly different from the one they have on file as the authorized signature allowing for falsified signatures to be used with impunity ?? or that by law certain health services cannot bargain with their suppliers of pharmaceutical products to get a lower price (free competition my foot) resulting in the price of medicines being in average twice as costly as they are in canada and that there are times in which the US govt flagrantly breaches commitments under the World trade Organization …….and sabotages compliance with the sentence from international arbitration panels to remedy such breaches. by not approving the budget for the actions to be take to honour those decisions …., or the way local police authorities can seize the property of money which they find in the possesion of a person they accuse of a misdemenour and keep it even if later they are proved innocent . US laws are sometimes the means whereby what should be considered abuses are legalized …….., compliance with laws is of course a sacred moral mandate …

  8. The historical centers of Mexico City and Bogota not that long ago used to be deserted no mans lands after dark and they are now thriving areas of outdoor activity. I understand Medellin has also undergone a dramatic transformation. You see this also in major American cities that experienced hollowing out in the 1970s. I remember an area of Brooklyn that was threatening at any time of the day or night when I first visited there in the 1990s, and it is now a cultural and commercial hub.

    Caracas still has the DNA of a great city. It has great parks and green areas and the infrastructure for lively sidewalk culture. Architecturally and planning wise, the memory of a friendly, open society is preserved. The city for the most part does not have totalitarian engineering – it just has these improvised barricades added on. The gigantic shopping malls that have flourished under 21st Century Socialism will not prevail in a city with Avila, La Candelaria, UCV, Sabana Grande, even Plaza Bolivar.

    Interesting reflections and I liked the photo essay. It’s Caracas.

  9. In latam crime levels climb as you go north , lowest levels Argentina Uruguay ,Paraguay Chile , Next the andean countries : Bolivia , Peru and a bit worse off Ecuador , then Colombia , then going up the ladder Brasil and Mexico and at the uppermost rung Venezuela Guatemala Honduras and El Salvador . curiously enough there are some countries in central america and the caribbean that largely scape the above rule with lower levels of crimes than their neighbors to wit: Nicaragua , Costa Rica Panama and of course that epitome of police states Cuba……!! Of course Venezuela has become more lawless and dangerous than its ever been in the past ……..!! worse still the barbaric nature of the crimes has gone up …….!!

    • Nicaragua is very violent. We used to travel there to do mission work (Mrs Guapo: cleft palate repairs; El Guapo built rural clinics and dental offices) until it got too unsafe. We had to flee into Honduras in the middle of the night when the local FSLN jefe/alcalde started to extort us for construction materials we had already paid for, and we got wind that a potential kidnapping for ransom was in the works.

      The low crime rate reported in Nicaragua is pure spin, courtesy of Ortega. We will never go there again.

      • Good read, good eyes, good move. Sorry to hear, but glad you got out in one piece. Typical socialist redefinitions of words: Fuerzas Sandinistas de **Liberacion** Nacional. Some people here think we might as well do what we’re accused of doing, and invade and conquer Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, California – give honest people there the right to shoot and imprison. But what a mess it would be for a while. Belize and Costa Rica seem to be more inclined to play a fair game. Maybe they’re better hope.

        • I have been all over Central America. Costa Rica is the safest by far. Belize, Panama and Honduras (despite the squalor) are pretty safe. Guatamala and El Salvador… meh. Nicaragua is a shithole.

          Mexico is funny… some areas I wouldn’t allow SEAL Team 6 into. Other areas, as safe as your granny’s rocking chair. The closer you get to Guatemala, the rougher things get.

          • It very well could be. I only offer my personal, anecdotal evidence.

            The vast majority of the people I met there were hard working but very very poor. The were VERY grateful for the help we brought them. We were so enamored with the people that we adopted a young girl with a cleft palate from Honduras in 1999. She was (we think) Guatemalan, but we adopted her in Honduras. Abandoned as a newborn. She started college last fall… wants to be a doctor like her mom!

          • ElGuapo, you, Mrs. ElGuapo, and adopted daughter Guapa are special people. Thanks for all you guys have done and still do.

          • ElGuapo – Just seconding what MRubio said. There are some fine people posting here, in my opinion of course. And the website, and the contributors who write articles, give real insights into the situation at ground level. A word of thanks to them, too. P.S. I’m sorry your work in Honduras came to a halt, but I’m sure the clinics you built and your efforts remain a good and useful example. Often there’s only so much one can do. Gives one more hope and inspiration that f’ed up as the world seems at times, good and reason win out. MRubio’s work and courage, for example. It goes on … John’s efforts, the people involved getting the packages delivered, people like Naky, other posters who continue to live and work in “the world’s leading example of 21st century socialism”. It is my belief there is more good than there is bad.

  10. Another issue apart from crime, in Caracas, is the fear of people that deal with natural catastrophes that if an earthquake similar to the one that hit in 1967 occurs again, there will be many casualties due to panic caused by people trying to get past a locked gate …In 1967 the current locked gate craze was not that extended, specially in apartment buildings …

  11. 10 or 15 years of MPJ would have been great for Kleptozuela. Besides a monumental, world-class infrastructure and a formidable economy, average pueblo- people would have been a lot better educated, thus much less corrupt, with much lower crime to this day. Better than Chile is now, after Pinochet educated them, and disciplined them for a while.

    Instead some corrupt, under-educated, extremely greedy Thugs called Chavistas took over.

    Now, the only way to curb corruption and crime would also be a very strong government, extra heavy police on all major cities, as Guiliani put in New York, tough laws, stiff jail sentences. Even after Chavismo is kicked out, hopefully by June, crime will remain very high in Kleptozuela, since no MUD government will properly educate or punish the majority of a highly corruptible, uneducated population that’s left, after the massive, irreversible Brain-Drain that took place.

    Therefore, better get used to all those prisons, “rejas” alarms and security systems everywhere in Kleptozuela. They will prove indispensable during the next decades of soft-MUD semi corrupt ‘democracies’ to come. Unfortunately, some populations have to undergo the tough stick of certain totalitarian regimes, before they are straightened out, educated with strong moral values. As bad as they are, with political prisoners, killings, reduced liberties, some right-wing dictatorships are much better, temporarily, than softer governments. They can educate and build character in people. Only then can there be less police, much freer and just Democracies, and much less crime. Sadly, no MUD to come will be able to do that, the damage to what’s left of Kleptozuela society was done, and it’s too profound. For the most part, people are too ignorant and corruptible, instead of hard-working. Most of them are leeches and choros, to the core. That takes time and a big stick to correct.

  12. I don’t know why Canucklehead calls himself that. It should definitely be Knucklehead:

    ——–

    “John, as I indicated below, American cities have been undergoing a rebirth. Violent crime in North America continues on a long, historical decline. Areas of New York, Detroit, Los Angeles for example, used to resemble places like Guatemala City. Good planning, social policy and improvements in law enforcement as well as changes in the economy have vastly altered those places for the better.”

    ———-

    I don’t think a more ignorant post ever appeared on the Internet, ever.

    From a Canadian no less, commenting on AMERICA, so what can we expect except total stupidity? The shmuck knows NOTHING. And believe me Canucklehead, you really are an ignorant shmuck.

    The only reason certain urban areas in the U.S. experienced great gains against crime is because they became gentrified, making it unaffordable for many lower classes to live there. Middle and upper moved into these neighborhoods, and what a surprise. Less crime.

    And you claim good planning, social policy and improvements in LAW ENFORCEMENT are what did it?

    IMPROVEMENTS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT!?

    What kind of nonsensical bullshit are you peddling?

    My God. Total asshole.

    • I find it laughable when progressive Canadians start lecturing US citizens on the virtues of liberty and freedom… considering Canadians haven’t yet been the “first to fight” in any conflict, including any in their own country. Always “last in, first out”.

      “As Canadian as… possible, under the circumstances” is perfectly apt.

      • El Guapo: here’s a fun fact. Canada declared war on Nazi Germany in September, 1939. I don’t want to be rude or anything, but Canadians were at Dunkirk while Roosevelt was arguing with a bunch of know nothings whose legislation was the Neutality Act and whose slogan was “America First”.

        • And let’s not forget the men of the First Canadian Infantry Division choking to death under the first German gas attack on the Western Front, a full two years before the U.S. went “Over There”.

        • True, unbeknownst to many excessively ‘proud’ and nationalistically dumb Americans, Canadians have been key allies, active components in many wars, especially World War 2. Look it up, or just get cable TV, before calling someone ignorant schmuck or worse. Bounces right back to you.

        • And a little follow up, Canucklehead.

          I have spent a couple of years serving in the US military. The last at 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment “Flying Dragons” out of Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks Alaska. Have you ever been in the military? Just asking.

          While the only action I ever saw was Just Cause (Panama) in 1989/1990, a few of my buddies have been in Iraq I/II, as well as Afghanistan. They got to know the Canadians contributors quite well.

          Nobody did quite as well as them Canucks in the laundry when it came time to get blood and puke and shit and bones and that burnt hair smell out of American BDU’s (or whatever they call them these days). Awesome job with them Tide pods.

          So rest on them laurels of days gone by. “Glory days, eh?” Its a pretty safe bet that Canada hasn’t done FUCK ALL to improve the human experience since Juno beach in 1944.

          • Well, you’ve just pissed on the graves of 132 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in action against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Is that how allied veterans treat their fallen comrades? Brothers in arms, eh? Shame.

          • You made a statement about history that was wrong, Mr. Guapo, and that statement and the one that followed were an unfortunate slander on Canadians who served bravely and were killed and wounded in a number of wars, including Afghanistan.

            It is unfortunate that you and a handful of your mates have to make these sorts of comments about Canada to bootstrap your arguments with me on this website. Ordinarily this is just silly. This time, your comment warranted pointing out to you some well-known history which you had either forgotten or were not aware of.

        • Another knucklehead comment by Canucklehead:

          Canada only declared war on Germany because the UK did, due to Germany’s invasion of Poland.

          • I think you are confusing Canada with Australia and several other Dominions within the Commonwealth, which were automatically at war when Britain made its declaration on 3 September, 1939. By 1939 Canadian foreign policy was no longer shaped by British Imperial policy, as it had been during the First World War (and hadn’t been since 1931). Canada’s parliament, which was still on summer recess when Germany invaded Poland was recalled in an emergency session to draft it’s own, separate declaration of war, which it did on 10 September, 1939. While Canada was certainly allied with Britain’s war effort, and in various campaigns its armed forces were subordinate to British command, Canada’s separate declaration of war was a considered response to German aggression and a deliberate assertion of Canadian autonomy, and not merely a reaction to the British declaration of war.

      • To follow up on my post Ira, people come here to learn and understand what’s happening in Venezuela. We then compliment the articles with more information and points of view. One often point is the communication hegemony and censorship. When you have an opinion, great.. but when you’re flaming people, trying to shame or inflame your target, you’re no better than a Chavista clamping down on freedom of speech, hiding behind your keyboard.

    • Ira, because you are such a nice guy, here’s a personal anecdote about policing in New York and gentrification.

      In the 1990s, I used to visit the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn from time to time. At the time I started visiting, it was a dump. It was not a safe place to hang out on the street at night. It could have been an area in the Libertador section of Caracas.

      Then one day, I was standing on a subway platform out of Williamsburg with a friend who happened to be smoking a cigarette, and something new and unexpected happened. Two cops came up to my friend, started asking questions, and then had my friend empty her pockets. To paint the picture, at this time, you could walk down the street in Williamsburg and identify drug dealers all over the place. Suddenly the police were out on foot and busting people for smoking on the subway platform.

      Soon after that incident, things started changing very rapidly in Williamsburg. Bars and restaurants started opening up. They started tearing down or renovating places that previously were basically squats for people like my friends. It is now the second home of Hollywood stars, I understand. This magical process of gentrification is not actually magic. It is often the result of government at work.

      • I grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn.

        So do you think that because you just Googled to make your post, that means you know anything about Brooklyn? Seriously, dude.

        You know nothing about gentrification in Brooklyn. And it has NOTHING to do with government policy, especially the Democrat tilted state of New York, or at least NYC.

        Gentrification means forcing lower income folks out. Did you even know gentrification means that?

        And Dems don’t do that.

        I apologize if some folks here think I’m flaming Canucklehead with my posts, but for Christ’s sick:

        He’s an idiot and poser.

        • Ira, just going from memory again, I seem to recall that the mayor of New York for a lengthy period in the 1990s during the period I am talking about was a Republican.

      • My second post to this bullshit post:

        Williamsburg was always mostly Orthodox Jews, with low class blacks.

        75% of Williamsburg was totally safe, because 75% was Jewish.

        Ironically, or stupidly, you chose to omit the major population of Williamsburg, where gentrification wasn’t needed.

        Once again:

        You know nothing, but try to pretend you do.

  13. Senator, no, thank god. Politicians are generally lower life forms.

    Bodega owner, yes.

    Farmer no longer though I do provide plowing, planting, and other assorted tractor services, at least as long as I can maintain the equipment functioning, which may not be much longer.

    Builder of houses, never made that claim, you have me confused with others.

    Oil & Gas expert, hardly, though I spent 20 years as owner of a reservoir fluids lab which I eventually sold to a NY Stock Exchange-traded company. If you ever wish to discuss the phase behavior of near-critical reservoir fluids, I’m your man.

    Economist extrodenare or whatever that is, hardly, though I considered myself a capitalist when I was about 10 years old.

    Philanthropist, hardly, though I do what I can to help the locals.

    Crime expert, crime fighter……not sure where that one comes from, but will say that most anyone who lives in Venezuela and wishes to keep the shirt on his back will eventually become a crime expert and crime fighter. LOL

    Posting 20 times a day, some days yes, some days no. I type about 120 words a minute so I can really pontificate with the best. If my posts bother you, which they seem to do, consider yourself lucky that the message function here sucks as badly as it does.

    Now, how about you tell us about yourself. Like, who pissed in your Wheaties today? I suspect it was colored orange. Am I right?

  14. 85 comments, and maybe 6 about Venezuela?

    This comment section has gone to crap. Can’t you guys find somewhere else to argue about trump or gun control in America or immigration or reimposing gun bans for Blacks (!?) or Canadian military efforts? There is literally millions of websites or social media accounts out there to argue to your life’s content.

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