Sunday, May 09, 2010

La Carolina, 5 days after Chavez stole it

Workers of La Carolina defending their former job

Today I drove to Caracas for a week of work and in spite of my better judgment I decided to drive through Nirgua and thus drive in front of La Carolina. To tell you that it was a heart breaking moment would not be half of the story.

I drove first in front of the main gate and there was nothing to see except for a silly flag and some Nazional Guards (or militia?  who cares?) sort of hiding under some shade.  No proud display here.  A couple of years ago such a land grab would have been accompanied at least in the early days with a PSUV presence all in red.  There was no evidence of such a thing, as if people now knew what the whole charade was really about.

The entrance now sports an idiotic propaganda flag, and in bad design at that

A hundred yards after the entrance porch comes "La Bodeguita" where the productive farm used to sell its goods.  There some lost souls were hanging and I realized that it was some of the people I knew from my frequent stopovers there!  In particular the manager who recognized me.

I had to get down from my car, hug and cry behind my sun glasses as these poor people were so happy to see some one they knew stopping by for support.  Besides the media and some of their friends it seems that the locals have been very, shall we say, subdued in showing any support.  Should I charitably say that they were scared that the INTI would also move on their land next door?  A mistake of course as sooner or later the INTI will move in everywhere.

Talking to them I managed to have them gather for the group picture shown above in front of the protest banners they put up.  Again, with little attention paid to the message.  But people should pay attention.  I learned some stuff that did not make it to the press.

  • - The manager and people living on the farm were expelled and were not allowed to take their clothes with them.  They were simply booted out.  that is right, some of the people in that picture have no clothes to change into.
  • -  At first the manager, the woman in white in the picture, was not allowed to take her two dalmatians.  Eventually she managed to have the male jump above the fence.  The female was recovering form surgery and eventually realizing that they were unable to take care of the dog they allowed her owner to take it back.
  • - Violence arrived with the INTI: the entrance guard was beaten up just because he was too slow in opening the gates, or something. When the INTI reached the office, the nervous clerk was fumbling with the keys to open the file cabinets: she was violently pushed against the wall as one of the INTI thugs grabbed the keys from her
  • - Looting has taken place though they cannot say exactly how much has been taken away as understandably the Nazional Guard let's no one close to the gates when there is traffic in and out.  Even less the "vice" presidential chopper.
  • - Not all workers have decided to remain outside refusing to work for the government.  Apparently about half a dozen of them did go in, including all those we call "reposeros", that is, the slackers, the ones that take the legal two days a month you can get away with it without getting fired, the ones that regularly bring bogus medical permits, the one you constantly need to supervise to make sure they do at least something during the day (it is extremely difficult to fire anyone in Venezuela).  There is apparently also a couple of "good ones" that remained working because they have been threatened through their families who probably hold some governmental job that they would lose if they did not go back to work at La Carolina.
Human Rights anyone?

The office, full of government trucks parked in front
There is no activity we can detect form outside.  Even on week ends when you would stop for lunch you would always see someone in the distance watering, driving some feed truck, mowing the hay, doing any of those activities that must be done in a farm 7/7.  The only thing I could see was a whole bunch of INTI pick up trucks parked in front of the office.  And a couple of cows on the lose.

La Bodeguita itself was locked up, and I was told they even changed the pad locks even though they were given all the keys.  If you look carefully you can see the bright new chain on the cast iron gate.
A locked up La Bodeguita
Now, the only activity is the workers taking some shade under the roof.  But you will notice that the tile floor is brown: it used to be always an immaculate terra cotta red before, the very first visible sign of neglect by the INTI.  Watch this picture, I will post a new one in a couple of months form now.

As I arrived to Caracas I was telling this story to a friend who went with me a couple of times for lunch at La Bodeguita.  He was heartbroken and sent me those pictures from the last time we went there.  A bucolic view that will be soon lost forever.  A pathetic witness of the good we were able to do in Venezuela that is been ruthlessly destroyed by the chavista plague sent upon us. Everywhere the government puts its heavy-hand all is damaged, cheapened, degraded or simply lost.

The dining lounge at La Bodeguita

The view while you enjoyed your refreshment


  1. Out and out theft and thuggery.

    In 5 months the place will be in disrepair and the fields overgrown with weeds. It will likely not be a tenth as productive as it had been.

  2. This kind of post is the best of the best because it's a glimpse into of what is really going on- not just a clump of sterile numbers, or the empty words of Chavez.
    This is the real experience of the deep horror that is the mass hatred which is called Chavismo.

    What could be one of the most amazing countries in the world because of it unique qualities, natural beauty, glorious music, food and dances, and not in the least what WAS the sweetness of its people (almost outside of Time itself) is now becoming a Bully PIT for sociopaths.

    I only hope it is true in this case that after the dark night comes the dawn.

  3. Anonymous2:37 AM

    every time you about this it just makes me mad. That stop was one of the few pleasures of driving to CCS. Oh I forgot the beautiful curvas de Nirgua.

  4. This is so very sad. I realize that it was tough for you to make this side trip, but you also brought a spirit to those who were protesting that they really needed.

  5. I used to watch this silly old movie called Red Dawn.
    It had Cubans invading the US spouting Marxist Ideology as the vanguard of Russian attack.
    It seemed so ridiculous until you see what is happening to your country.
    This is absolute madness.
    Does anyone really believe that this will be used for any productive social reason.
    More likely to end up as a reward to some party hack like Nicaragua under the Sandinistas.

  6. The vindictive nastiness of this affair and Chavez's comments on it (the story has been picked up by the international media) hardly bear mentioning; the gloating promise that he won't see his property again; the mention of there being a swimming pool there, thus proving he's an 'oligarch.' Have official statements from the nation of Venezuela really descended to this level? Yes, they have, and even more tragically it seems that for most people in the country this is OK.

  7. Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
    habe ich geschwiegen;
    ich war ja kein Kommunist.

    Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
    habe ich geschwiegen;
    ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

    Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
    habe ich nicht protestiert;
    ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

    Als sie die Juden holten,
    habe ich geschwiegen;
    ich war ja kein Jude.

    Als sie mich holten,
    gab es keinen mehr, der protestierte.

    -- Martin Niemöller

  8. Boludo Tejano4:03 PM

    Some have predicted that Thugo will not be booted out of power- with his control of the electoral machinery he will NOT be elected out of power- until Venezuela is destroyed. Sad but true,the loss of this restaurant is supporting evidence for that prediction.

  9. Juan Cristobal9:38 PM

    I loved this place too, used to stop here all the time on the way to Maracaibo. Thanks for this, I'll post a link on CC.

  10. Sigh... Another wretched story out of Venezuela.

    I have to ask the cynical question, though, which is, how many of the folks photographed (not to mention other, ex-employees not present) have voted for Chavez? The corollary question is, how many more times will the majority of Venezuelans vote Chavez before it dawns on them that the guy is bad news for them and the country as a whole? Does everyone have to be out of work before they get it?

  11. This reminds so much of the natioonalizations in Zimbabwe--as the productive capacity of the country was wrecked by cronyism.


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