We try to mitigate insecurity by surrounding our homes and streets with walls, fences, sensors and security guards

TODAY VENEZUELA – We are living very strange times, with values that are leading us down an uncertain path. When we read the news and exchange opinions, it would seem that Venezuela is making progress only towards delinquency, corruption and inefficiency, while life and property have turned into declining or irrelevant values.

We try to mitigate insecurity by surrounding our homes and streets with walls, fences, sensors and security guards. We go home early, reducing the hours of many activities, particularly those that make it pleasant to live in a city.

The result: a city of fiefdoms and isolated areas where solitude reigns supreme and opportunities to build relationships with neighbors are scarce. However, seclusion does not eliminate people’s vulnerability against criminals, be it common street or high-collar thugs.

To stop working results in economic losses, particularly in the areas of commerce, entertainment and gastronomy. It also lowers the appreciation of urban values and undermines the notions of belonging and responsibility towards common property. This might be what incites over 80% of the residents of the Cerro Verde, Los Naranjos or La Lagunita neighborhoods (to cite just a few) to avoid paying municipal taxes, in spite of them being grossly low and insufficient to maintain the areas. Additionally, as everyone seems to expect governments to fix everything for them, there is no initiative to overcome deficiencies neither in residential nor in commercial sectors. Nobody feels their neighborhoods or the city as their own anymore.

The diverse uses for shopping malls are prime for the creation of a lively environment, as is the norm in many countries, both near and far from Venezuela. On top of parking spaces, air conditioning and security, their management is able to promote events and activities that elicit enough interest and curiosity, attract customers and keep them entertained.

In contrast, urban areas such as Sabana Grande’s Calle Real or the Las Mercedes or El Hatillo neighborhoods are practically deserted as early as 7pm; the situation is the same in Downtown Caracas. These are all valuable spaces, but none of them have a community spirit or a management capable of proposing or setting initiatives to generate and maintain appreciation for their landmarks.

Municipal authorities of competent jurisdiction could cover this lack of guidance if they included in their functions the promotion of development to create prosperity, in addition to just caring for what already exists and ensuring compliance with municipal laws.

If there were a healthy rivalry between the old and the new, the city would be the ultimate winner; instead, it continues losing quality as competition decreases, anonymity is the rule and windows for insecurity open at every turn.

Urban decadence is also increased by the generalized attitude of expecting “someone else” to solve problems instead of contributing or cooperating themselves. This is due to an enormous unawareness of the fact that taking refuge in individualism is an omission that leads us all to nowhere.

Source El Universal