Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hands Off Venezuela visit to the Cotisa Housing Project

Hands Off Venezuela visit to the Cotisa Housing Project.
Wednesday 13th December 2006

Hands Off Venezuela went to Cotisa, a poor neighbourhood in the hills of Caracas, which was devastated by a flood 23 years ago. The then government of Luis Herrera Campins supplied tiny metal shelters that were supposed to serve as temporary protection for 120 homeless families. Almost three decades later, those families – now extended into two generations – were still living in the squalid makeshift shelters.

old housing

Now, under the new Chavez government, oil money is being used to fund a new housing project that is transforming the living conditions for these families.

New housing

We met Miriam Sanchez, the Project Manager from the Municipal Mayor’s Office, who explained that the 10-month old project truly fosters community participation. The resident families take part in weekly committee meetings, where plans and ideas are discussed and approved. The community itself is hired to build the 2 story, 2 bath, 3 bedroom houses, which creates employment as well.

Miriam Sanchez

We spoke to a Mother with one of her teenaged sons who told us about her experiences.
“I can tell you it's been a marvellous change, because we used to live in tiny trailers. Look how big my son is. It's the first time he has ever lived in a decent home. Here we have space.” She said how she once lived in a nice home but that the family had bad luck and her father died when she was very young. She introduced us to her small grandson and said that he was born in the trailer too but by the time he started walking, he lived in their new spacious home. “It's marvellous. What good work president Chavez has done for poor people. And, we hope things continue moving ahead for us and for others as well.”

Mother with new housing

New housing

We also spoke to Mr Jesus Rengito, who is in charge of security on the new estate.
“If we don't have liberty, we have nothing. We want all the peoples of the world to focus on the reality of our revolution. The revolution is beautiful, but we need to build it. We're building it step by step. We have a guide who is Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, but we have to have the ideas regarding our revolution and to learn what Socialism of the 21st century is, so that it can lead the people who are living in darkness to come out of their backwardness and to take the message to the most remote corners of our country.”


Miriam finished by telling us that in the past ten months, 50 percent of the families had already been re-housed, and resources have been approved to carry out projects in 32 other areas of Caracas next year.


In Britain, the last Tory government sold 1.6 million council houses and flats to tenants at discount prices in what amounted to the biggest privatization of all, raising more than £7bn. Little money found its way back into improving remaining properties. The government was keen to hive off the remaining 3.2 million in England to housing associations and developers.
Under New Labour, 750,000 council homes have now gone to associations and social housing companies. This has led many to believe that council housing in Britain is facing a slow death.

So the messages from the people of Caracas for us to learn from their revolutionary process, are indeed, very appropriate.

Melanie, for the HOV delegation, Caracas

1 comment:

Sabrina Garza said...

It’s so nice to see people benefit from such housing projects. I strongly support governments and other organizations who use such poverty-fighting tools to uplift the social status of their constituents. I think they need all the support they can get from concerned parties to help them alleviate poverty.