Photo: Mario Pérez

Nowadays, garbage in Maracaibo affects everyone regardless of race, skin color, religion or social standing. From the poorest slums, through middle class neighborhoods all the way to the historically well-to-do northern area: absolutely all sectors are surrounded by mountains of garbage, as if the whole city was a big landfill.

This problem is well beyond the capacity of mayor Willy Casanova, who promised, after taking office, a “drastic change” through a project called Maracaibo Te Quiero (Maracaibo I Love You), claiming that he’d collect garbage himself if he had to.

After seven months of his administration, he’s only made more promises, offered excuses and denounced Donald Trump’s blocking the funds to buy garbage trucks abroad, in addition to confronting those who criticize his work, even including some government spokespeople, whom he calls “The Pretenders”.

Meanwhile, the problem’s still there and people don’t know what to do with the trash. Or perhaps they do: burn it.

I see people applying this method daily in up to ten different places: when I go to work, to my grandmother’s house or just to the bakery. So, I was certain that Mario and I would find fire and smoke when we took to the street to make this photo report… and so we did.

Photos: Mario Pérez

“It’s exasperating. The very community is our enemy because some neighbors burn the trash in this corner and we take all the smoke and they don’t. Why don’t they burn it in front of their houses?” asked Larry, a resident of the Francisco de Miranda sector nearby Galerías, a popular mall. “This happens because it’s been a year without any garbage collection here,” he added.

Gustavo Carrasquel, who has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education, said in the regional TV show Zulia en Caliente that burning organic and inorganic matter creates carbon that spreads through the atmosphere and seeps into the tissue of any living being, remaining there even after they take a bath, which can cause cancer, among other things.

“Burning the garbage isn’t an option,” he said.

But this isn’t the only thing people do with garbage. Hundreds of people also take the option of sifting through it to find something to resell, such as plastic or soda cans. Daniel Boza, head of the Mayor’s Office Urban Management Department, has offered a shocking response: according to him, these actions aren’t related to misery, but to the so-called opportunism of citizens, who have found a business amidst the crap.

“Whoever opens trash bags to search for plastic and sell it will be punished. Recycling will allow us to have a cleaner, more organized city,” he said.

Why don’t you shut up, Boza?

Experts consulted by Tu Reporte estimate that the problem can be solved with $250,000 a month, which would be invested on labor, spare parts for trucks, supplies for workers, fuel, administrative expenses, financial costs, utility, oversight vehicles and other aspects, with the aim of collecting 1,400 tons a day.

The figure doesn’t seem so high for such a pressing issue but… who can guarantee that, once approved, the funds won’t end up in a Swiss bank account, such as those approved to solve the electric crisis?

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Photos: Mario Pérez
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  1. Dump all of the rotting garbage in front of Willy Casanova’s domicile

    Be assured that the problem will be resolved in 24 hours

  2. Braulio likes his shithole. I remember visiting Maracaibo & Cabimas around 1985. It was a wastehole. What has changed?

    • That you could in 1985 go and dump the garbage in front of the governorship or city hall and widn’t risk getting killed for it.

      What has changed is that chabizmo now rules.

  3. “This happens because it’s been a year without any garbage collection here,” he added.
    Welcome to Haiti. Can it really get more disgusting in Venezuela? Gee, I wonder why once eradicated diseases are coming back full force.

      • As long as the population accepts this insanity, not much sympathy from me! As the saying goes, “You lay down with dogs, you get fleas”

        • The population will endure that as long as there’s no one to lead them to revolt.

          The caracazo’s “pueblo arrecho” is but a myth, there’s more than enough evidence that shows that the thing was planned and that the vanguard of the looters were criminals armed with high caliber weapons.

  4. “…Willy Casanova, who promised … a “drastic change” through a project…”

    That’s socialism: via negligence (or malfeasance) create a problem where there was none, then add another layer of government with a promise to solve it, then add more negligence and delay to worsen the problem, repeat.

  5. In the states, a lot of our private waste disposal companies were run by the mob, but the stuff always got picked up.

    If it was a municipal contract, and the city didn’t pay, they would cut the mayor’s head off and throw it in the truck.

    Corruption? Yeah. But it still worked.

    • Except that now it works on reverse in Venezuela.

      The gubmint IS the mob, and the disposal company is usually a smaller parasitic enterprise that very often belongs to somebody who’s related to the bigger mob, so according to the sorting algorithm of mobs, when the bigger mob simply doesn’t want to pay, the smaller fish simply have to shut up or get their heads offed.

  6. When my nieces and nephews saw their first automated trash truck in Florida…men don’t pick up the containers, a mechanical arm does…

    They thought they were at DisneyWorld.

  7. Excellent conditions for an epidemic to jump out of the trash. No way the trash can keep piling up without eventually causing a public health risk, or epic.

    Also the claim that Trump is keeping the worthy mayor from purchasing the much needed trash trucks is another hollow rant similar to Maduro claiming the Portueugse were robbing El Pubeblo of their precious pernile, when it turns out Venezuela had stiffed the company for several million from a past order. This is what happens when you don’t pay your debts. And as mentioned, even if the funds were alocated for said dump trucks, unless they were delivered to the mayor, the monies would simply be burgled or skimmed and Maricaibo would be lucky to end up with two or three “used” trucks from Trinidad that would quickly break down and for the lack of spare parts we’re back to where we started minus the funds.

    This is what a failed state looks like. But the real blows back won’t be felt till the power grid goes down or there’s some disaster with the water or disease. One wonders how long off that sad day is, how much longer this ship of fools can get away with doing nothing.


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