Photos: Mario Pérez 

“There are no buses anymore,” a colleague told me a few weeks ago. “The only thing I have yet to see are ‘passenger-garbage-trucks,’ because even Corpoelec trucks are doing it.”

Her comment originated from the fact that, in Maracaibo, citizens use the most absurd vehicles to get around: from camiones 350, tow trucks and hearses, to those little trains used for high school or college graduation caravanas.

An option escaped my colleague, though, since it seemed unthinkable back then: military convoys.

On June 5, mayor Willy Casanova announced that 15 units from the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana will be joining the transport sector and provide free service to “fix the existing deficit.”  

“There are no buses anymore,” a colleague told me a few weeks ago.

This wasn’t the promise he made in December, when he took office promising an “overwhelming change” and 150 new Yutong buses. He asked Nicolás Maduro and the president, allegedly, agreed.

Now, on June 7, he admitted to Fe y Alegría Radio that the crisis is bad (even though he justified with the “economic war” excuse), and said that fixing it could take up to a year.  

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It’s a symphony of mismanagement that has provoked Maracuchos to stand in long lines under the scorching sun, walk long distances to their jobs or simply quit because they can’t honor their responsibilities at work. Some companies, as incentive, have put together the logistics to provide transportation services for their workers, including transporte particular and dorms in the workplace.

They’re also giving additional bonuses to cover transportation fees, since bus drivers charge up to five times the legal fare (you can hardly blame them, a tire may cost up to Bs. 80,000,000, that’s 80 minimum wages),

It’s a symphony of mismanagement that has provoked Maracuchos to stand in long lines under the scorching sun.

“I’m walking every day because public transport near my house is nonexistent, and when we do have it, they charge you whatever they want,” says a 56-year-old teacher who walks Monday to Friday around 2.5 kilometers to get to work. “I must say, my boss always gives me a ride home, me and five other teachers. It’s torture to walk under the sun at that time (1:00 p.m.).”

What scares me isn’t so much the current panorama; it’s the prediction my transportation-deprived colleague made during the conversation at the start of this piece: “We’re going to be like Cuba. We’re going to need bicycles to move.”

“You say it’s free,” the chavista coordinator told me when we were taking the pictures you can see here. “Don’t manipulate saying people pay, ‘cause this is free. You in the opposition lie a lot and see problems in everything.”

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