Sunday, March 19, 2006

Falleth the Caracas viaduct: the end of an era?

As long expected (20 years ago at least) the main bridge of the Caracas La Guaïra highway finally fell down some time after11 AM. The picture from Globovison below shows the highway table now hanging at the edge of the ravine.

Most TV are reporting. The Bolivarian News Agency is not (at 12:43 PM), neither is the Venezuelan National Radio RNV. Nor is Chavez busy as usual on his Sunday Alo Presidente on VTV emitting plenty of hot air. Only private media are on it, even on web pages as El Universal refers to TV footage, something that could also have happened on, say, RNV. And the RNV and ABN web pages are updated as to anything that Chavez blurts from his show. Only the words of El Supremo matter when he speaks!

At least no victims have been reported: the collapse had been a matter of days since January, I suppose that people staid clear.

And thus ended the famous Caracas highway, which through two tunnels and two daring viaducts linked Caracas at 2,700 feet to sea level in less than 20 minutes. The symbol of Venezuela's desire for modernity has thus bit the dust, just as the country has been doing for the last 20 years. And we can be assured that the government will not do much more than the actual snaky and insufficient "trocha" made in a hurry. Adding insult to injury it expects us to be thankful for a two lane deficient road when it had been warned of the viaduct problem and did nothing but probably sped up the collapse when in a hurry at the end of 2005 they tried to patch things somehow.

Now in an electoral year, realizing that in 7 months no viaduct can be built, it will probably forget about it as it spends on more direct vote getting schemes. Populism uber alles!

But I cannot be too harsh on Chavez. After all he is just the most irresponsible and populist government since 1958. He is just worse than AD. AD and its side kick COPEI did not do anything about the bridge, preferring more glamorous spending projects. Why would Chavez be any different? After all, he does not care, he goes to the airport in helicopter or through La Carlota, an option denied to the hoi polloi.

As long as we keep electing demagogic and populist “leaders” we will never get out of underdevelopment and improvisation. Thus my question mark of the title. The only thing is that we can pen down today’s date as the end of Venezuelan modernity, the official return to our more barbarous ways of the XIX century.

And yes, I am mad as hell!

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Update: at 13:10 neither VTV, nor ABN, nor RNV. But the communication ministry puts the news, finally. However it is at the bottom left, certainly not taking away from the big news of the day, the weekly Alo Presidente. I have circled them in green. Click image to enlarge.

Update 2: At 14:06, according to Globovision that monitors Alo Presidente, Chavez HAS NOT mentioned the fallen bridge yet!!!!! Instead he is remembering the good old days when he was in the Army posted in Apure and telling the local folks that they are not the owners of their land, but that he is still the same person as then, that he likes to discuss to settle things, that he will give then a few weeks to come up with an agreement (translation: if in 30 days you do not surrender your lands of your “free” will, I will take them from you). The B.S. from Chavez can reach far, into mythomania....

But at least ABN has finally put the snippet about the "partial" fall of the bridge...

More interesting, looking through RNV, which still has to post on the fallen bridge, I found a declaration dated of YESTERDAY 5:26 PM where the minsiter in charge is reproted saying that the bridge is not about to fall, that the "preventive" work done in the recent months will avoid this. Is it true that he is about to tend his resignation? (I have saved the web page, just in case).

Update 3: Damage control time. The minister is nowhere to be seen, but they sent the more presentable director of Civil Defense who is trying to tell us that the fall of the bridge justifies all the work done in the past few months.

Well, yes, once they had to close the bridge they moved fast. But it would be more proper to limit declarations to strictly safety things instead of using "preemtive" excuses, something for which chavista pols have become excellent at doing.

And at exactly 14:27 PM Chavez finally talked about the bridge. With video. Apparently they were looking for ways to make the news more palatable. And at 14:31, Chavez cannot resit and says that "surely the media is starting some show". Well Hugo, even bloggers are on it and they certainly do not take this overall disaster as lightly and insultingly to our intelligence as you do.

And with this, live coverage is over. I have documented the first word on Chavez on it, which is what I wanted. A perfect illustration of WHY WE NEED FREE PRESS IN VENEZUELA!!!!!!!

It is 14:34 PM.

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