During my 55 years of street photography, I have never seen a deterioration and a change of the street in my country Venezuela, like the one that has happened in the last 20 years, not only in its urban plans, but also in its people and especially in their behavior. The city and its architecture show a deterioration. Not even the colonial houses and their history escape this destruction, caused by the attempt to change democracy for communism.
My city Porlamar on the Island of Margarita, along with the Car and the Cubagua Islands form the state of Nueva Esparta in my country Venezuela, and none of them have escaped this deterioration – not to mention Nueva Cádiz on the island of Cubagua, which was founded as an archaeological site and a historic port city at the forefront of Venezuela’s coast. Nueva Cádiz was established for the first time in 1500 as a seasonal settlement, and by 1515 it had become a permanent city inhabited year-round. It was, in fact, one of the first settlements in the Americas. The colonial houses of Porlamar fall and are destroyed by abandonment because their owners do not have work or money to repair them.
In the past, people who walked the streets wore a smile and seeing a person with his camera would have posed for the photographer making the work more pleasant. Today, that rarely happens and is a cause for admiration.
Many times, when people see a photographer their eyes reveal hate and fear to such an extreme that you must be very careful and turn your back after making an image. (See the top image, titled “Looks that Kill.”)
The city has become a large supermarket where people sell mainly products from nature, the fruits of the trees, such as mangos. This is one of the most important ways people make a little money in a country that has lost more than 80% of its industries and jobs.
You may be thinking that what I said in the previous paragraph was an exaggeration of mine, but in this picture I show two children, who check the garbage bags in the street. You can see that one of them already got something and leaves while the other busily searches for something to calm his hunger.
Such is the degradation that communism entails that public transport collapsed and was replaced by trucks where people are transported as if they were animals.
More than 17,000 companies in Venezuela have closed. In the city of Porlamar, which was the richest municipality obtaining taxes from the businesses of the Free Port, more than 90% of the stores are closed or broken. People have to find a way to bring sustenance to their homes and in the street we see any type of undertaking on the part of the people to solve the problem of this harsh situation.
In just 20 years, a city like Porlamar – rich, clean and beautiful, which had a great future and was considered a place with a great quality of life – has unfortunately become the best example I can use to show the world with my photographs, in part, how harmful communism can be. It is not surprising that doing this work (documenting what happened and leaving evidence so that future generations can wield it to those who deny the facts), brings retaliation against me, but as a photojournalist of more than 40 years in the profession, I can say that I do not care about the consequences of reporting the damage that Castroism does to a town, city or nation when it wants to impose itself above Liberty and Democracy.