Caracas

A branch of heaven

Back in the 1970s, people used to refer to Caracas as “a branch of heaven” (“la sucursal del cielo“). As a maracucho, I never really got why people said that. It seemed like typical caraqueño BS to me, unnecessary chutzpah for celebrating a city that, even back then, was merely … OK. As an occasional visitor,…

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Death is easy to find. Coffins? Not so much

Most Venezuelan businesses are having a tough time these days, but you would think funeral homes would be booming – what with a crime wave and all. Turns out funeral homes are just like any other business, albeit slightly creepier: in a recent interview, Ricardo Guedez, member of the Venezuelan Funeral Parlors’ Association (Canadefu), spoke of the multiple…

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Life meets pavement

Tents, bare mats, improvised shelters, tattered refrigerators, and used-up kitchen utensils cover the sidewalk of this stretch of Avenida Lecuna, in downtown Caracas. Several government-subsidized buildings on both sides of the street are adorned with propaganda. Women, men, and kids stand by, looking at each other and at the cars driving on this busy street. They sit on…

Koningstein

What leaving Venezuela means to Jews

In February 1939, two ships approached the shores of Venezuela after a long, desperate voyage. The Konisgtein and the Caribia’s captains had already asked for asylum in many other ports, now they pleaded with the authorities to allow the entry of its 251 passengers. But it was 1939, and the ship’s human cargo was considered radioactive. Why? Because most of the passengers were…