Politics and the Barrios

As I continue researching about the slums of Caracas is impossible to encounter articles and information about the political situation of Venezuela and how it is affecting its citizens. Twelve years ago Hugo Chavez became the President of Venezuela and has focused enormous amounts of money and time on the lower class. This has encouraged the people living in the Barrios and illegal settlements of the country to vote, in most cases in favor of Chavez. Although my opinion is biased since I was a member of the middle class when I lived there, I want to share my point of view. Caracas, being the capital of the country, has a population of about 6 million people of which three quarters approximately live in informal settlements. Chavez knew what he was doing when running for President since he decided to focus on the majority of the population, meaning the lower class, for his campaign. This has affected life in the barrios and in the city in many ways. Firstly, the people from the illegal settlements have realized just how much power they can have even though they are not tax payers, as a result, the divide between lower and middle-upper class has become greater and greater over the years, instigated by the country’s own president’s actions and comments. The political situation has created conflicts not only between two very different social classes but between families even. There have been countless riots and protests where many people have gotten hurt or killed and it hurts me to know that citizens are getting injured or killed by other citizens who just happen to have different political beliefs. People from the barrios were not liked before by the formal city, in part because they steal services since they can’t afford them, or because they are usually the ones provoking violence or crime in the community. But now there has been another layer of dislike between the two social classes that makes it impossible for both of them to understand each other and inhabit the same city peacefully. Although I realize that this conflict will not be solved with architecture, I would like for my design to maybe promote understanding between the two. The middle class has the power to help the barrios, and the people from the barrios are an important part of the formal economy, there is no middle-class household in Caracas where someone from the barrio works as a maid, or gardener, etc. The relationship between the formal and informal city is there but everyone refuses to see it.

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