Photo: Mario Pérez

The poor, the working class, professionals and students: No Venezuelan is safe from the transportation crisis. Caused by the shortage of supplies and parts that must be acquired with black market dollars, the scenario has paved the way for something only seen in those parts of the country where public transportation was already bad, the perreras, a phenomenon that, in the last two months, has left 26 dead according to the Public Transport Users Committee.

Authorities have been stalling and implementing trumped-up solutions (like enabling trucks to transport citizens) and folks, in their need to reach their homes or workplaces, climb on these vehicles and sometimes end slammed against the asphalt.  

The most recent death took place on June 14 in Caracas, when a 64-year-old man, desperate for a bus, chased a pick-up truck and slipped when he tried to climb on, hitting his head on the street. The most dramatic incident took place in Mérida on May 28, when a truck overturned, killing 11 passengers, nine of them were children.

Folks, in their need to reach their homes or workplaces, climb on these vehicles and sometimes end slammed against the asphalt.

Nobody’s been held accountable for these accidents. The Transport Ministry does nothing and in the case of Libertador, in Caracas, the response has been lacking and irresponsible. Chavista major, Érika Farías (a promoter of perreras —literally “dog pound trucks”), announced the creation of a municipal transport company without mentioning budget, the type of units it would provide or a date for implementation.

It makes sense: There’s no talk of compensating the victims either.

Services collapse

Esperanza García (53) has aged way beyond her years, not only because of the shortages of food, cash and water in her neighborhood, but also because of the fact that she no longer has the means to move from her home in La Vega to downtown Caracas, where her workplace is located.

Sometimes she walks over five kilometers, sometimes she climbs on a 350 truck. She may get on a bus after waiting for more than an hour, but fares are no longer fixed, so she must pay whatever price the driver sets.

There’s no public transport in Venezuela to move within cities or out of them. José Luis Trocel, executive secretary of the Inter-Union Transport Command, offered some figures: Out of the current fleet of 300,000 buses across the country, only 10% are working to carry over 12 million passengers in the country’s 24 states.

There’s no public transport in Venezuela to move within cities or out of them.

And we see it every day. Esperanza García is one of hundreds who must walk long distances, even across municipalities, to get to their destinations. People who live in Los Valles del Tuy, Vargas, the Guarenas-Guatire hub and the Miranda Heights and work in Caracas, are foregoing their workdays due to the everyday avatars of waiting in bus stops for over two hours without a transport unit showing up.

And the Caracas subway is just as bad. It’s been working with free turnstiles for nearly the entire year, when raw materials for the tickets disappeared. It has no air conditioning, but it has constant delays and blackouts. Authorities offer no explanations for this either.

Passengers are the feeble, vulnerable and powerless links in the chain of the debacle that scourges them, because public transport failures are just a side of the general decline in public services. Without water, power, medicines, food, cash or protection against crime, can we even say we have a government?

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Anyone who wants to keep their business open has had to adapt. I live in a small town where everything is within walking distance but that still doesn’t stop the shop owners and posada owners from making transportation arrangements for their employees. The bosses are well aware that minimum wage does not cut the mustard and all kinds of bonuses must be offered if you want to keep a decent employee. For example a friend of mine actually gave his right hand man a motorcycle to come and go from work, another buddy owns a grocery store so he is able to recover enough currency to pay his employees in cash, aside from the fact that he pays 3x the minimum wage plus in cash, its certainly better then staying home. My boys are up to 10 million a week plus they eat all 3 meals a day here in my house, plus a few other bonuses. Nobody can actually work in these conditions of not being able to purchase the calories necessary to replace the calories that you burn working for the man.

  2. Venezuela is impossible for this outsider to decode. Do Venezuelans just intuitively know that this government will fall without a nudge from the pueblo. I gather from crime statistics that Venezuelans are no strangers to violence so why the passivity when the situation cries out for protest. This lack of protest results in substantial under reporting by the world press allowing it to focus on other hot spots in the world and deemphasizing the horrors of Venezuela. I am not criticizing Venezuelans; I just don’t undetstand.

      • Right. And the apathy is really very fundamental. My experience in Mexico and Venezuela leads me conclude that the apathy is toward…freedom.

    • Bill Crispin,

      You really have to have lived through it to understand. Several times the people were ready. All it would have required was leadership from the Opposition. But every time, the Opposition leadership backed down and left “el pueblo” holding the bag. At this point, the spirit of the people to resist is broken. The solution is going to have to come from somewhere else.

  3. “Venezuela is impossible for this outsider to decode.”

    Pretty much the same for insiders as well.

    I’ve long said that Chavez knew exactly what made the average Venezuelan tick, played to it, and today’s apathy by the masses of the terrible living conditions proves it. They don’t seem to care. Just give ’em something free of charge and they’re happy.

    Eat today and all is well, tomorrow we’ll worry about tomorrow.

    • The majority can barely even eat today, if at all, often with 50% or less needed calories, and still don’t complain loudly/publicly. Nicaraguan protests are experiencing about 5x/capita deaths more than last year’s Ven. protests, which were called off by the MUD leader turncoats, and which anyway did not have any real following in the poorer 90% pop. barrios of CCS. A nearby competent herrero/sons/family is trying to subsist mainly on bread/bananas. Marc’s bonus solution partly ameliorates the hunger, but few are the businesses/households that can afford this solution, and, as time goes on/hyperinflation rages, fewer and fewer clients of Marc’s/other businesses can afford to patronize such businesses.

      • I have associates in Nicaragua, and they say that the more that Ortega and his Cuban puppeteers repress, the angrier and more reciprocal in violence does the opposition get. The oppo is NOT taking its boot off of Ortegas throat, and the place is a tinderbox. The Cubans are trying to flood the loyalist ranks in the military and police with its minions, but everyone knows who they are, as Ortega hasn’t had to time to “infiltrate” the ranks yet to wipe out dissent.

        Another associate in Honduras says that all is quiet there. All of the Cuban agitators have left for Nicaragua.

          • Cuban Cancer is metastasizing throughout the body of LatAm. I hope and pray Nicaragua finds the strength to beat this dread disease. I was very thankful that Colombia was able to fight off the initial infection (at least for now).
            It is looking like Mexico may be the next to succumb. GOTTA get the wall finished before that happens!

            It is looking more and more like Venezuela is entering the terminal stage of the disease unless some miracle cure in the form of intervention by a coalition of it’s LatAm neighbors can save the country.

    • I’ll decode it for you.

      First of all, like most countries in Latin America, we are a feudal country. THAT alone should tell you why Communist BS sells so well here. I’ve heard plenty of you gringos bitch that the opposition here is leans as much to the left as the Chavistas (at least they’re a lot lighter with the communist rhetoric) . Well, now you know why. Our last “right wing” government was Perez Jimenez in 1958.

      We’re taught since very young that whomever is in charge gets to do whatever the hell they want and everyone else has to suck it up and smile. My most vivid memory of grade school is the teacher saying “justo paga por pecador” whenever the which is short hand for: “Unfair? yup, too bad, suck it up sunshine”. But that is only half the story (and the easier part to understand too). After all, Russia and China are about as feudal as they can get, and yet, they were smart enough to even develop some heavy duty technology (yes, I know they stole all they could from the west. But even THAT can only get you so far.) The other half of the story is that social skills are MUCH more important than anyother skill whatsoever to get what you want here. Yeah, yeah, everywhere in the world you’ll hear of people with no other skills or qualifications in high places or making a bundle because of their social skills. THe difference is that HERE, THAT is the only way to get ahead. Not just one of them. I worked at CANTV when it was private (and at a wholly owned subsidiary that had people that were new in the company) And saw it first hand. THe finances of that subsidiary were a disaster and ther Finance Guy got caught with his hand in the cookie jar several times. HOWEVER (as he himself said) he was in good terms with the then president of CANTV (again, I’m talking when it was PRIVATE company) and went to all his parties. SO, he said, he was untouchable. I saw these same two things happen at every organization I have ever worked for. All of them in the PRIVATE sector.

      How pervasive is this? I once went to IESA for some “management” training. At the time they were pushing that cumbaya BS called “Emotional Intelligence”. So, they made the entire class the following exercise they gave everyone a bunch of colored balls, we were free to change them with anyone else and stated that only rule was that the people with the most white balls had the privilege of making the rules. Of course, everyone tried to talk everyone else to part with whatever white balls they had. And, of course the people with the most white balls made a rule that you could not exchange white balls anymore. When the psychologist in charge (of course, there had to be one pushing this kind of crap) lectured us about how our culture was oriented to power. The people of the class I was in, told the ones onm the next class about the exercise, And they (the people in the next class that is) thought it would be pretty funny if they pretended to shun the white balls and claim they had to be distributed equally amongst all the participants. I heard that the psychologist blew her top when she saw this happen. Because, of course they were making fun of her. Now this training I was in was with people who were used to be in charge (Bank VPs, C leve execs, Business Owners, there even a couple of CHavista miliary in the group). So, it should tell you how feudal we are. As for the other half, you’ve seen it yourself. Everyone here will voice the same opinion as the loudest voice in the room, if only because that way the’ll get something out of it. How else can you explain those people in your store bitching about Maduro and then going to vote for the guy to get their Carnet de la Patria bonus?

      SO, in the end what happens? Well whomever has skills or has low tolerance for feudal overlords, and is able to, leaves the country. WHomever is left has to suck it up and smile for the people in charge.

      Which means that the people in charge spend all their time and energy angling to stay in charge. The rabble knows pretty well that to get anything, they have to smile and suck up to the ones in charge at any given moment. How exactly are going to get anything useful done? Easy: buy it already made from outside the country. Too bad that it doesn’t work when you’re out of cash.

      And no, as far as I know there is no other solution than two or three 20 megaton nuclear devices

  4. “The majority can barely even eat today, if at all, often with 50% or less needed calories, and still don’t complain loudly/publicly.”

    Mangos and mamon right now are what’s keeping a lot of people here alive. When they’re gone, I guess they’ll eat leaves and dogs. They’ve already stolen and slaughtered the few horses that remain in the area.

    We truly have become a third-world shithole.

  5. The govt only has energy to use every means at its disposal to keep itself in power , by hook or crook, but aside from that it it hasnt got the resources or energy to adequately deal with any other ordinary tasks of government: keeping law and order, suplying the countrys need for electricity, running water , public transportation , regular food and medical supplies , providing health attention , currency , maintaining stable prices…….even passports , its is a total washout in dealing with any other public need ………, it lead a dysfunctional state , where the ordinary means that sustain life are either absent or in short supply …..
    Its good at only one think , keeping in power by repressing and defrauding their oppressed population , in that sense it can be considered a failed state , a state incapable of providing or performing the basic functions which in any civilized country the state is meant to provide ….!! Because the oppo has been unable to unseat the corrupt inept regime that now controls power without any kind of limit it too is deemed inept…….because such a beast of a govt should be easy to get rid of ….and yet it remains in absolute and uncontested posession of the means of power …….we neither believe in a future for this country or in the capacity of its people to sustain itself in freedom ……….!! at least as conditions stand in the present…!!

  6. Didn´t people complaint and protest when the bus drivers raise the price to a few cents to a few more cents?

    good ridance, better ask maduro for a few more perreras.

  7. They are accustomed to this abuse and control be an oppressive government that has wrecked their economy all in the name of fervent nationalism and “equality for all” which is poverty for all.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here