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Metrocable: Chavez made a promise, Chavez kept it

Olga Lopez, Tiwy.com (January, 2010)
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A very remarkable event took place in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, - a new cableway, similar to the one leading on top of Avila mountain in the National park, started its operation. But people go on Avila to have rest, to look simultaneously at Caracas and the sea that spreads out on the other side of the mountain range. Whereas the new cableway, named «Metrocable de San Agustin», is meant for daily use by local citizens with limited resources who live on the mountain slopes in slums that are called «ranchos», in which, more or less decent houses of old construction, are surrounded by unauthorized constructions.

These ranchos have become a certain negative visiting card of Caracas: they meet you at the entrance to the city and are the last to see you off at the tunnel through the mountain. Hugo Chavez was the first president to call these ranchos «a disgrace of Caracas». The Bolivarian government at the very first opportunity started implementation of the program «House in exchange for rancho» (Sustitucion Rancho por Casa), settle apart the slums, wipe them out from the city map.

Alas, this is a difficult and slow job. Millions of people live in these wretched hovels on the mountain slopes. Every day they have to overcome narrow steep serpentine roads going along the slopes or shorten the way on even more steep endless staircases. And all this in tropical heat.

That is why, simultaneously with construction of social houses, the government of Chavez solves the transportation problem of such regions and builds several cableways at once. A Brazilian company «Odebrecht» (which also builds bridges across Orinoco), as well as specialists from Austria and France, takes part in construction thereof.

«Metrocable de San Agustin» is almost 2 kilometers long and there are 5 stations there. It will take you 10 minutes to run on it. And it connects the region with the population of 40 thousand people with the nearest metro station «Parque Central». Working hours — 6 a.m. through 10 p.m. The fare is 0.5 bolivars or 9 cents. For the first three months the cableway will take passengers free of charge! It is significant that the attendants of the cableway are local citizens from San Agustin.

Inscriptions on the cableway cabins catch your eye. It turns out that each of them has its own «name». The «names» are the values that are promoted by the Chavez government («freedom», «ethics», «equality», «love», «social responsibility» etc.), as well as names of states of Venezuela.

The so called «zones of leisure» are already being built at the stations. Viewing ground for tourists will appear at the station «Hornos de Cal», information center, sports grounds, library - at «La Ceiba», sports grounds and people handicraft shops - at «El Manguito». Now tourists can look at the life of exotic «ranchos» both from nearby and from above.

The opposition did not fail to promptly add some rotten apples even in this. First of all it informed that people from «ranchos» are afraid of such modern means of transportation, are afraid of heights and therefore prefer to get to the metro in the old way. But it was true only in the very first hours of the cableway operation. Then all rushed to master the new means of transport. The «accountants from opposition» could not but compare this cableway with the similar one, built several years ago in the Colombian city Medellin and calculate how much it cost here and there. Well, the pike is there in the pond for the crucian not to sleep. The most important — the cableway is there.

«Metrocable de San Agustin» was inaugurated by the president of the country Hugo Chavez. He, along with his ministers made the trip. Looking at the slums of San Agustin he noted that the «region is cosmopolitan», meaning that the poverty has no nationality: «Here one can see all drama of poverty». Speaking about new technologies that are on the service of people, Chavez pointed that out of every 100 bolivars invested in Venezuela, 90 are obtained from sale of petrol.

Such cableways are also under construction in four regions of Caracas: Filas de Mariche, Cota 905, Gato Negro, El Valle.




Station Parque Central.





View to the East Tower of Parque Central, which repair is close to completion after a fire in 2004



The lower part of the barrio of San Agustin.



San Agustin close.



Station Hornos de Cal.





View of the center of Caracas.



The upper part of the barrio of San Agustin.



Built with the cableway social housing.



Demolished slums.



Social housing built along with the cableway.



Demolished slums.





Social housing built along with the cableway.





























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