Venezuelan Government Plans to Restructure Latin America’s Biggest Barrio

Yesterday, the Venezuelan government presented its urban restructuring plan for Petare, considered the most populated barrio in Latin America with well over 500,000 inhabitants. The plan includes cable cars for easier access, other transport infrastructure, and markets for informal workers, among other projects.

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President of Caracas Metro, Haiman El Troudi, at the community meeting yesterday in Petare (AVN)
President of Caracas Metro, Haiman El Troudi, at the community meeting yesterday in Petare (AVN)
By Tamara Pearson
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Mérida, August 22nd 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –  Yesterday, the Venezuelan government presented its urban restructuring plan for Petare, considered the most populated barrio in Latin America with well over 500,000 inhabitants. The plan includes cable cars for easier access, other transport infrastructure, and markets for informal workers, among other projects.

Haiman El Troudi, the president of Caracas Metro, met with representatives of the Petare community in its historical centre, where he outlined the government’s proposal.

Petare is located in Sucre municipality, in Miranda state, and is a mostly poor area with broad  support for president Hugo Chavez. Petare’s name comes from the language of the indigenous inhabitants of the area (the Mariches) and means ‘face river’, in reference to its location near the Guaire River. It is mostly made of up informal barrios (housing and shops constructed by owners, with little overall planning). Many areas in Petare suffer from overpopulation, poor urban services and roads, and marginalisation.

El Troudi said that the re-ordering of the barrio would be based around two “mass modern transport systems;” the Bolivarian cable train and Mariche Metrocable, as well as road projects, the construction of 7,064 houses, and new public spaces and services.

“It’s about a total transformation of Petare,” he said.

The plan covers the following main aspects: transport, roads, risk management, popular (or grassroots) economy, services, housing, public spaces and communal meeting areas.  The government has allocated an initial Bs 47 million (US$ 10.9 million) to the project for technical studies and soil analysis.

El Troudi said that once the studies were completed, work on housing construction could begin, including substitution of shanties for houses.

The Mariche Metrocable is a cable car type system which will be ready for testing next month. It will connect residents with the Caracas’ metro system and with the Bolivarian cable train, which El Troudi said should also be ready by the end of the year. A second metrocable (the third the government will have constructed to serve the populated areas of Caracas) is being contemplated for south Petare.

The metrocables provide safe and affordable transport to people who live in areas which are so steep that they are difficult to access by motor vehicles.

Yesterday’s proposal also includes the construction of an overpass near Petare station to relieve traffic jams, as well as other road widening projects, building a bridge over the Guaire river, street lighting, water pipe substitution, and footpaths.

The re-structuring plan involves the building of three markets, with one due to be inaugurated in a few weeks, said El Troudi. The markets will be spaces available to informal street sellers. “We’ll give them dignified treatment, our comrades in the informal economy,” he said.

Rubbish compactors, an amphitheatre, sports areas, a new school, a communal building, and a security building for 600 National Bolivarian Police are also part of the plan. Further, infrastructure related to government missions and national projects, such as child care centres, Bicentenary food markets, and state run arepa shops are also contemplated in the plan.

After yesterday’s initial presentation of the re-structuring plan, the government says it will now promote working groups with distinct sectors of the community in order to review their ideas about the proposals.

Petare is considered to be the largest barrio in Latin America (vulcano.files.wordpress)

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