Photo: quepasa.com

Last year, days after the December 10 elections, I was in the newsroom of a Zulian newspaper I used to work for, when a colleague who works in the current events section asked loudly if anybody knew who Willy Casanova was. She’d just read his name in a press release and everyone present was surprised by the question. In shock, a colleague from the politics section replied: “He’s the mayor of Maracaibo.”

I also thought the question was unbelievable, until I realized weeks later that she wasn’t the only person in the city who didn’t know about this politician who rose to power during the electoral feeding frenzy of 2017. A work published in April by Tu Reporte showed that a staggering number of maracuchos didn’t know who’s in change of the city. Some even linked Casanova’s name to some president or priest.

I realized weeks later that she wasn’t the only person in the city who didn’t know about this politician who rose to power during the electoral feeding frenzy of 2017.

Although the article looks like the spawn of some media lab trying to harm him, it’s only a matter of taking to the streets to realize its veracity. In fact, maracuchos tend to blame Nicolás Maduro or governor Omar Prieto for things that are the responsibility of the Mayor’s Office, such as garbage collection and public transport. And Casanova doesn’t seem concerned about this at all.

The few things you can read on regional media about his administration is through press releases, a perfectly explainable phenomenon if he wants to go unnoticed. His story with chavismo started in 2003, as founder of the Zulian Francisco de Miranda Front chapter, whose main task was carrying out cédula issuance campaigns in slums, participating in launching the Barrio Adentro program and replacing traditional light bulbs for Cuban energy-saving bulbs; in 2005, he took over as national director of the Food Ministry; he was the founder of the Social Battle Rooms, created to bring communal councils together and he was also Communal Economy vice-minister, participating in the Presidential Committee to manage the emergency caused by the rains in 2010.

The few things you can read on regional media about his administration is through press releases, a perfectly explainable phenomenon if he wants to go unnoticed.

When he became mayor, he promised a “robust” change in the city that included the creation of markets in each parish, the integration of new buses to the public transport system and better garbage collection. As of right now, only the flies can thank him, as they multiply by the millions in the waste mountains spread across the city.

The first time I saw Willy Casanova was on regional television, when he was candidate for the National Assembly in 2015. He was asked about the Olivares brothers case, one of OLP’s most emblematic murder cases in Zulia, and amidst his anxiety, he simply talked about Chávez. A sorry spectacle for us all.

Back then, I was sure that guy would never do anything of note with his life, but I was sorely mistaken. The man is a career-politician who seems to enjoy his anonymity —the reasons for such a peculiar behaviour I leave it for you to conclude.

 

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