In many ways the problems facing Venezuela illustrate the difficulty even prosperous countries have in spreading their wealth to the hardest pressed sector of the populace.
GV Overlooking Caracas
GV PAN Skyscrapers & roadway (2 shots)
LV & CU Car at petrol filling station & CU of pump (2 shots)
LV ZOOM OUT Skyscrapers TO shanty town in foreground
GV PAN & CU Shanty town on hillside (8 shots)
GV PAN Shanty town & Caracas sky-scrapers
TRAVELLING SHOT Road into city passing new construction of hotels & office blocks (2 shots)
GV & LV Building ( 2 shots)
CU People in street
CU ZOOM OUT People in pool
GV ZOOM OUT Traffic on road outside city
Initials BJB/0100 BJB/0115
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Background: In many ways the problems facing Venezuela illustrate the difficulty even prosperous countries have in spreading their wealth to the hardest pressed sector of the populace.
Caracas, the capital, is a dazzling modern city with glistening skyscrapers, large American cars using modern roads, luxury hotels and yacht-filled harbours.
It is also a city of desperate, grinding poverty where millions live in cardboard shacks without water or electricity. There slums are called "ranchos. They dramatize the enormous gap between rich and poor."
By modern standard Venezuela is a rich nation. It's wealth pours from hundreds of oil wells. It is the world's third largest oil exporting nation and easily the richest country in South America. Yet the Government admits that almost half of its citizens are poverty-stricken.
Ironically, in the capital of the oil producing state of Zulia, nearly 63 percent of the inhabitants live in the 'ranchos'
In Caracas, it's estimated that 41 percent live in them. That's one million people on whom the 4.5 billion sterling (10 billion U.S. ) yearly earnings from oil have little or no impact.
Yet Caracas has seen a concerted drive to improve the city and the life of its inhabitants. It started after Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez appointed 37-year-old Diego Arria as Governor of the federal District which includes Caracas.
Senor Arria came to the job well-prepared. Before his appointment he organised a committee which studied the problems of Caracas and developed the broad reform programme which became part of senor Perez campaign. When Arria was named Governor, he brought many of his top committee colleagues into office with him, and they immediately began trying to put the reforms into action.
In some cases that has meant swift and often controversial decisions. He once decided to rid the city of street vendors and immediately had 500 of them rounded up and returned to the towns they came from. In another case he removed 20,00 shanty dwellers from what he considered a dangerous shanty and had the huts bulldozed so they could not return.
The city has moved rapidly with the purchase of land for development into green zones. Often "ranchos" have been cleared to make way for them.
The Civic cleanup has not been limited to the physical environment. Campaigns against youthful prostitution and drunkenness are also underway.
At the Federal level the fight to improve living conditions sis being waged through Fundacomun, a state operated "Foundation for the Development of the Community". Its chief is Senor Carlos Acedo Mendoza, a sociologist.
Senor Mendoza says it will not be possible to entirely erase the shanty towns until the country's agriculture is developed sufficiently to provide employment for those who live in them, thus removing the incentive for them to leave the and flood the cities with tide of destitution and hopelessness that has proved so difficult to contain.