Photos

Hugo Chavez's Urban 'Utopia' Didn't Turn Out All That Well

Ciudad Caribia, built from scratch under the watch of Venezuela's late president, has many, many problems.

Ciudad Caribia, about 9 miles from Caracas, was built under the watch of former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez. Chavez had hoped the city would become a model for 21st century utopian living. So far, it hasn't turned out that way.  


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Construction began in 2006. The city initially opened its doors to over 1,000 residents and planned to eventually welcome thousands more. But they never materialized. Today, less than 2,000 of Ciudad Caribia's 20,000 apartments have been built. And it's struggled to serve even its small population.

Before Chavez's death, residents complained of long waits for promised apartments, forcing as many as 11 people to live in the same unit, according to this 2012 BBC report. In the same report, residents are seen waiting as long as an hour for state-provided vans to pick them up to take them into the capital. More recently, people have waited more than three hours just to get into the local grocery store. A local bakery closed for a full year with no given reason. 

Tensions between residents and authorities stretch beyond wait times. According to a report in El Nacional, people in the government-constructed city suspected of voting for opposition leader Henrique Capriles over Nicolas Maduro in last April's presidential elections were threatened with possible eviction. Around the same time, an incident between residents and police left one 17-year old dead. That led to an angry mob vandalizing the local police station; the national guard is now in charge of security.

Below, Reuters photographers Jorge Silva and Edwin Montilva give us a look at the struggling city, one where Hugo Chavez's vision and legacy are always present:

A building bearing a design with the signature of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seen in Ciudad Caribia outside Caracas, September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
A mural of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seen in Ciudad Caribia, September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva) 
An aerial view shows the construction site of Ciudad Caribia, July 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Edwin Montilva)
Women work at a bakery as a banner of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seen in Ciudad Caribia, September 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
A woman stands outside her apartment next to a portrait of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Ciudad Caribia, September 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
A man reads a newspaper at his apartment next to a portrait of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Ciudad Caribia, September 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva) 
A boy rides a bicycle among apartment buildings in Ciudad Caribia, September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva) 
A boy plays with a ball in Ciudad Caribia outside Caracas September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
Boys step on public exercise machines in Ciudad Caribia outside Caracas September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva) 

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