VENEZUELA IN CHAOS
27 July, 2017
© Federico Parra
This exhibition shows the work of Venezuelan photographers, both documentary and conceptual, telling their story of the endless nightmares of a country that has descended into free fall in a short space of time.
How is it possible that people are living in poverty in a country with enormous natural resources? Venezuela has the largest oil reserve in the world. The ground contains large quantities of coal, iron, bauxite and gold. The soil is fertile.
© Fabian Solymar
The huge income from oil brought abundance for decades, but it did not lead to equality. Since the charismatic president Chavez took office in 1999, he began to shape the country into a socialist model, like the one in Cuba. He claimed that he stood up for the poor and wanted to hand the country’s wealth back to the people. Full of good intentions, the government began to pump billions of oil-derived funds into social schemes, such as free medical care, free education and social housing.
© Leo Alvarez
As the founder of the Bolivarian Revolution (named after Simon Bolivar, the freedom fighter who 200 years ago liberated Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru from the Spaniards), he established a new constitution. His foreign policy was marked by a strong anti-American tone. The country became a leader in the region; Chavez won election after election.
© Carlos Becerra
© Fabiola Ferrero
Companies, including the oil and steel industries, became nationalised and agriculture expropriated. But the government turned out to lack the experience and knowledge to function as a producer, processor and distributor of food. Through mismanagement and bureaucracy, the food industry collapsed. No problem: Venezuela was swimming in oil money and all trade – food, daily necessities, even cars and white goods – quickly became dependent on import and subsidies.
Chavez was also a strongman who used his power to buy political support and to silence his opponents, both politicians and critical TV channels and radio stations. Corruption in the government and the rest of the administration grew, all of which intensified towards the end of his rule when global oil prices began to decline. Chavez died in 2013, and his designated successor, president Maduro, took office that very same year.
© Vladimir Marcano
Participants: Antonio Briceño, Oscar B. Castillo, Alejandro Cegarra, Nelson Garrido, Amada Granado, Lucía Pizzani, Juan Toro
Group presentation edited by Ricardo Gomez Perez
In a special part, multiple photographers portray the on-going daily protests. This presentation for Noorderlicht is compiled by Perez, and will be updated on a weekly basis during the exhibition period. With work by Leo Alvarez, Carlos Becerra, Marco Bello, Fabiola Ferrero, Vladimir Marcano, Federico Parra and Fabian Solymar.