Visiting the Teleferico: An Act of Defiance, Not Treason

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Photo: Mintur

In Venezuela, we’re trapped in so many ways that it’s difficult to count them.  

Public spaces to go for a walk or to take your kids are becoming increasingly rare, thanks to a combination of incompetence, negligence and a lack of public policies. The risks of being mugged (or killed) and the poor maintenance of spaces keep many at home, and if you add the low budgets in a crude hyperinflation to the equation, you get a clear image of how we live here.

One of the few venues for a relaxing, outdoor experience, for both locals and tourists, is the still affordable, government-managed Teleférico — cable car — that takes you to the top of the Cerro El Ávila, a lovely way to enjoy the city and its impressive, beautiful mountain. This is surely why those trapped in the cable car during last Saturday’s blackout had decided to visit the Waraira Repano.

The cable car system stopped around five in the afternoon, with users trapped above the void, cold twilight as the night slowly creeped in. Numbers for emergency services failed and not a single authority appeared with an explanation. Evacuation of those trapped finished well after midnight.

Some probably thought about power cuts before going, but constantly thinking about the risks we face would keeps us from doing anything. And even if power cuts are becoming more and more frequent in the entire country, people carry on, just like living in the most dangerous city in the world doesn’t stop us from stepping out.

But for some, this is an act of treason that makes us the regime’s accomplices.

“How come you ‘get on with your life’ in a country that has collapsed? Don’t you care? People go to the Teleférico and the beach as if nothing happens, so bien hecho, for trusting a system managed by chavistas.”

By this logic, all those trapped in the dark, including children and older persons, dangling from a wire or stranded at the top of the mountain without knowing what to expect or without any info about rescue proceedings, at 7ºC (yes, for us this is very cold), are guilty of wanting to enjoy a different afternoon.

Just because life in this country, with its cash, food and medicines shortages, its failing transport system, its staggering criminality rates, its empty supermarkets and all the many families chavismo ripped apart, is not normal, it doesn’t mean that those of us who remain here shouldn’t try (or even aspire) to have a “normal” life. This is not the visitors’ responsibility, it’s the government’s.

Life in Venezuela goes on despite every obstacle in our paths. People fall in love, get married and have children. Schools teach kids and universities remain open. There are less students and teachers, but those who remain here carry on. People have birthdays, weddings and funerals. The vast majority might not celebrate like we used to, but we try to mark the occasion in the best way we possibly can. The economic crisis has taken away many rituals around which we used to nurture our common heritage, were we bonded as families and as a nation. But people continue to breathe and dream in whatever space possible, and with those few friends and family left.

To think that those opposing Maduro should put our lives on hold and concentrate exclusively on ousting the regime is comparable to the totalitarian logic applied by regimes like North Korea or Cuba (and now Venezuela), where even children are indoctrinated to save the Revolution.

Carrying on with our lives in Venezuela is, in and of itself, an act of resistance — but most importantly, an act of defiance to a regime that wants us out, dead or under its control.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Someone has already pointed out in a couple of articles that many of us, parents, if not every parent in Venezuela, has assumed an attitude similar to the one of Guido Orefice’s character in La Vita è bella.

    We are all struggling to provide a little normality into the lives of our children and, sometimes it can be very hard to hold back tears or choke oneself into a desperate need to scream, just to prevent them from seing mom or dad crumbling down for a few minutes.

    The absence of symphathy from other fellow countrymen overseas can be cruel and heartless.

    • A sense of normality is a good thing to strive for to avoid chronic depression. Kids develop better when they have parents who are not unstable.

      But, there is a fine line between maintaining a sense of normality and indifference/ignorance. I don’t think what you did borders on the later but is clearly an attempt to enjoy the former.

      And you can’t keep locked up at home. That is just reality.

      Ferfal had lots of good examples of what they had to do when Argentina dove into the crapper in 2000. His wife and kids had to adjust but they still had family time. Coloring books, kids shows, …etc.

      Being a parent is hard. Anyone who says different is either a liar or is nit a parent.

      • “Ferfal had lots of good examples of what they had to do when Argentina dove into the crapper in 2000.”

        That is nothing in compared to the ongoing situation in Venezuela.

  2. Louisa, somebody piss in your cornflakes this morning?

    I dont know who you are aiming your argument at, but it sounds like a strawman argument to me. That is, you are directing your argument against the most radical of the radical “fascists”. I do not hear anyone saying that you should not go out. Nobody. I only hear that it is such a pain in the ass to go out (no cash, no transport, malandros, power cuts, etc..) that it is better just to stay at home- especially if you do not have a car or moto.

    When the time arrives when we have to do an official NATIONAL STRIKE (and I think that will come soon), then you become a traitor if you go out.

    Till then, please come out and support local businesses. I am a small businessman and we all are taking it in the ass right now. For now, please come out, spend what little money you have and enjoy yourself!! Its one think to stay home and dwell on all the bad news on twitter all day long. Its another thing to go out, actually talk to your fellow human beings in person and laugh at the dictator and his band of malandos.

    I propose to all of Venezeula, make your toast this Friday for HAPPY HOUR: a Venezeula Libre!

    Above all, dictators and authoritarians, more than anything else, hate being laughed at.

    Hey, you know what will cheer me up right now: some really bad economic news for this government and full of statistics to back it up. I love articles like that.

  3. Since when is anyone telling anyone not to try and go out and enjoy a day at the park, beach, or Teleferico?

    CC, quantity isn’t quality. You gotta raise the bar a LITTTLE on approving some of these stories.

  4. One of the things I miss very much is the Avila, El Cerro. We used to go all the time, with no Teleferico, a Chavista oxymoron of sorts. Sube cerro, deja la lloradera..some snobbish diplomat bitching about a few hours “freezing” at 50 degrees. Grab a pair of sneakers and hit Piedra’el Indio like we did for decades with no Bourgeois teleferico.. Lol

  5. “Carrying on with our lives in Venezuela is, in and of itself, an act of resistance — but most importantly, an act of defiance to a regime that wants us out, dead or under its control.”

    While it is certainly admirable that a Venezuelan still can find some normalcy inside Chavismo’s Hell, it boggles (my) mind that such normalcy in the face of this disaster, is borderline denial.

    From my perspective (thousands of miles away in a safe/sane situation) carrying on like everything is normal plays into Chavismo’s worldview that “all is well… there is no humanitarian crisis! See? Look at all the people going to the beach and riding the nice cable car!”

    I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who wants to take an emotional break from the shitstorm that is Chavismo (who wouldn’t need that?), but carrying on like things are normal is more denial, less defiance.

    • Yes, thousands of miles away safe and sane El Guapo…Nevertheless, the time will come when the shit hits the fan. Tic Toc Tic Toc Tic Toc

      Now is not the time, but the fuse is lit and what will pass will pass. Just wait till April. If you are smart you are preparing for the storm already. That said, we do need a bit of release here and there– because after April 23rd and we might not be able to leave our homes, and/or are defending homes and businesses from the zombie apocalypse.

  6. I mean, it’s one thing to expect these kind of comments during the protests and guarimbas, but now? Seriously? Excuse me for trying to live a normal life for once.

  7. I think I side with the people who go up on the teleferico, or walk along Ave. Los Proceres or take off for Los Caracas and beyond, or just walk down Sabana Grande, more than I side with the people who hop on a plane for Buenos Aires or Santiago or Lima or trudge across to Colombia or Brazil.

    But I confess, for all the times I’ve ridden up the Avila, I never once thought about a power outage. The usual was a halt, dangling 100 some odd feet over the mountainside, waiting for the car on top or on the bottom to unload and load. Hiking is much more fun, but I’d like someone to explain how you hike up and back before ir gets dark. We rode up and hiked from the Humbolt, but it was w-a-y too much “twilight” when we were still on that slope back to the hotel. It gets scary as heck when you can’t see the trail, and we had the lights of the hotel soaring above us as orientation. I glimpsed the lights of the city below, and man, you appreciate civilization a lot at moments like that, when you might as well be 1,000 miles away!

    And btw, 7 degrees is not “cold” – it is freaking freezing! You can die!

    P.S. Soy gringo. Abandone a Venezuela en los 80, pero ese no era mi pais, ve? Hicimos lo que pudimos. Gracias por los buenos tiempos y los recuerdos.

  8. A sophisticated project such as the Teleferico had to be constructed by Perez Jimenez, of course. What’s surprising is that after decades of failures with out previous MUDs, 70’s and 80’s, it never worked. So how come Chavismo was able to make it work? Mega-Guiso, you can be sure, and a concession to a private company, of course. Then, of course again, it’s going to hell after Chavismo got it back:

    “It was inaugurated on April 19, 1952, by the past President of Venezuela, General Marcos Pérez Jiménez. It remained open until the end of the 1970´s. A series of fruitless attempts to reopen it in 1986, 1988, and 1990 each ended in closing it. In 2000, the national government gave a concession to the Inversora Turística Caracas´Company, which was to reopen the tramway to coincide with rebuilding the Humboldt Hotel and the Magic Park of Avila [Parque Mágico Avila] (El Avila National Park).

    In 2000, the reconstruction of the cableway system began, as well as the one of the stations, and the cable cars are now operating. Nowadays there are more than 70 tram cars which can travel 3.5 km in 15 minutes approximately. The cost for a round trip ride is between 100 Bs (for Venezuelans) and 110 Bs (for non-Venezuelans). In August 2007, the concession was revoked and the park is once again in the hands of the federal government. In October 2007, it was renamed “Waraira Repano”.” However, the hotel project was not as successful (it was never rebuilt or reopened) and despite it has been working on for 13 years, the hotel is still a ruin.”

    Just imagine what Klepto-Cubazuela would be today if it had had 18 years of MPJ instead of Chavismo. 10 times better than Chile, I reckon.

    What kind of Guisos enabled the Teleferico de Caracas? Dunno, but I’d go by what happened with the one in Merida: PURO GUISO:

    http://runrun.es/rr-es-plus/investigacion/279048/un-guiso-de-altura-lo-que-hay-detras-de-la-remodelacion-del-teleferico-de-merida.html

    • I went back and forth between NYC and Caracas around 20 times in 1988 and 1989. Long story…did work for Santa Teresa…but more importantly, my ad agency in NYC had the Pan Am account. So with my discount, I paid around 200 bucks roundtrip for personal travel.

      Pre-Chavez of course, and every time I wanted to do the Teleferico, I was told it wasn’t working.

      I thought my wife (then fiancé) was bullshitting me, because how the fuck can a simple cable car be out of operation for two years?

      Ira…welcome to Venezuela!

  9. “En un lugar inhóspito, sin espacio y en apenas 199 días, Venezuela hizo realidad una aventura descabellada: levantar un edificio de 60 metros de altura que fue un instrumento político y un emblema del prestigio y la modernidad de un país pujante.”

    Eso era en 1956. (Con Perez Jimenez, claro esta..) El hotel Humboldt, ubicado a más de 2.100 metros de altura, es desde entonces un faro que vigila a un lado el valle de Caracas y al otro, el Mar Caribe.

    http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-43094778

  10. For those outside, or for those who have never lived in a country at war, it may sound odd, but as bad as things are, life does go on. Today’s outrage becomes tomorrow’s normal. And because of how bad the situation is, we need respite from mere daily survival to maintain our sanity more tha ever.

    • Exactly, life must go on or get out if it’s not worth living there. I have sympathy for thise that cannot leave due to no fault of their own or have no where to go. Similarly, I have zero sympathy for those that believe it will get better in it’s own.

  11. ” Instead of blaming an incompetent government, people called victims “traitors” for trying to live a normal life.”

    The true traitors are those who stick their heads where sunlight doesn’t hit by blaming the victims in their obsession to avoid blaming chavismo for anything at all.

  12. “where even children are indoctrinated to save the Revolution.”

    In Venezuela, people has been indoctrinated to avoid putting any responsibility on the involution.

  13. “To think that those opposing Maduro should put our lives on hold and concentrate exclusively on ousting the regime is comparable to the totalitarian logic…”

    Actually, everything in Venezuela should be directed at ousting chavismo, but the obsession of the “political correctness” that only respects chavismo and spits in the face of all the venezuelans is clearly seen in the moronic screeching of those who blame the victims instead of using those energies to yell loud and clear that “chavismo has done that, ruining a teleférico, too” and “that’s another reason maduro and chavismo must be ousted”

  14. Excellent videos posted above. Talk about “Caracas Chronicles”..

    Just imagine was a tough government like MPJ would do in 10 years, let alone 2 decades- (Sure, a dictatorship with political prisoners and uh, 3000 dead in 5 years? a diminutive fraction of Chabestia crap these days). Venezuelans would be highly educated, with the best infrastructure of all L.America, by faaaaaar, a solid economy, etc. Chile on steroids, today.

    Instead, the previous MUDs gave us.. rebolosion bolibanana.

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