Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sad Images Of Hugo Chavez's Trolleybus

Curious to see what Merida, the Venezuelan town I studied abroad in, looks like in its second decade of Chavez rule, I pulled up some recent photos from Google maps. I was surprised to see that the government had built a trolleybus system in the neighborhood I stayed in. Clearly the work of a socialist government, the system design is ostentatious and contrasts greatly with the impoverished surroundings. But pretentious design aside, I was struck by the decrepit look of the neighborhood. I don't have a scanner, so I can't upload photos of the area from 1998, but I can attest that the privately-owned buildings in the background didn't look nearly as bad before the Chavistas took over.

This is the trolleybus stop closest to my host family's house. The structure is made of stainless steel and likely cost more than what a typical Venezuelan earns in a lifetime. I used to get haircuts and buy guitar strings in the shopping center in the background. The center was far better-maintained back then.

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Sad Images of Hugo Chavez's Trolleybus - Estacion Alto Chama


Here's a closer look at the shopping center. Notice the hand-painted sign and trash on the ground. This was actually a pretty nice place to shop 14 years ago.

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Sad Images of Hugo Chavez's Trolleybus - Alto Chama

Here's a view from the other side of the station. Notice the parade of Venezuelan flags.

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Sad Images of Hugo Chavez's Trolleybus - Estacion Alto Chama - other side


This is the system's south terminus. Notice how the design contrasts with the decrepit houses in the background. The decrepit houses are actually part of a good friend's neighborhood. The area didn't look so bad when I used to visit.
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Sad Images of Hugo Chavez's Trolleybus - Terminal Ejido

Here's a closer look at the station. Tragic considering the poverty that surrounds it.

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Sad Images of Hugo Chavez's Trolleybus - Terminal Ejido 2