Sunday, 22 March 2015

Meanwhile in Venezuela the left remind us of their weird priorities...


So Venezuelan people don't have food in the shops, they have to queue for loo paper and the government is taking over businesses right, left and centre just in case they might actually be trying to make a living. It is an object lesson in the stupidity of the left's obsessing with fixing prices.

But you'll be pleased to know that the Venezuelan government is on the case and sorting out the problem:

Last year, Venezuela became an urban laboratory for architects and urban designers who believe in the implementation of participatory processes and collaborative design techniques in order to change communities who live under threat.

The Venezuelan firm PICO Estudio in hand with the National Government of Venezuela organised Espacios de Paz (EDP) (Spaces of Peace); an urban journey where professionals, students, local residents and public entities worked together to benefit their cities and people. This initiative activated urban processes of physical and social transformation through architecture, using self-building techniques in public spaces located in conflictive urban contexts.

The result of the project is some pretty funky and brightly coloured community spaces and buildings - you'll be familiar with these because they feature that slightly manic style of design beloved by community action groups.

These 5 projects were conceived as spaces of encounter, where a local community can gather together, developing different activities, meetings and workshops under beautifully designed, colourful roofs. Projects included basketball courts located on a rooftop; shadowed spaces built for promoting dialogue among residents; spaces for learning and debating; and orchards, playgrounds, amphitheatres, viewpoints, and so on.

It's all terribly sweet and lovely - introducing us to a world of happy, smiling faces as communities work with 'agencies' and 'professionals' to put lipstick on the abject poverty their government's policies have created. It is the finest example of how the left's approach to community development is typified by going into these communities, giving them a great big hug and saying 'there, there, it'll all be OK'.

The truth is very different - as even Venezuelan government figures tell us:

According to this measure, the number of Venezuelans classified as poor shot up in the last year by 1.8 million people. Roughly 6 percent of all Venezuela’s 30 million people became poor in the last year alone. The situation is even direr when one looks at extreme poverty, i.e., the number of people whose income cannot even buy a representative basket of food and drink. In the last year alone, the number of extremely poor Venezuelans rose by 730,000. They now reach close to three million people, or roughly 10 percent of the population. 

And of course the happy professionals will return to their achingly trendy offices in places where you don't have to deal with the reality of living in Venezuela's slums. It's not just the lack of basics but increasing levels of violence - 25,000 homicides in 2013 (this compares to 15,000 in trigger-happy USA with ten times the population) including over 200 police officers.

Still I guess that creating " dynamics which invite new ways of living in communities, modifying categories that rule the daily life, transforming vacant plots into powerful spaces for their inhabitants..." is absolutely the way to make Venezuela's economy and society better!


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