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Venezuela's homeless march to the presidential palace

By Elkis Bejarano Delgado | El Universal

12.07.05 | No house, no hope. Homeless of central Miranda state and Caracas walked several kilometers with children in their arms to stage a protest in front of the presidential palace. The government failed to keep its promise last February. Hoping to meet with President Hugo Chávez, over one hundred homeless from central Miranda state and Caricuao -a low-income parish in Caracas- arrived in Miraflores presidential palace to tell to "the commander" what is happening to them, because he is "mistaken. Every time he sends funding, somebody else takes the money."

Irene Ron made the remarks. She is one of the inhabitants in the refuges who have been waiting for five months since the heavy rains early this year swept her house.

"Public servants at Miranda Housing Institute (IVI) have threatened us. They advise us to be patient; they say that houses will be delivered soon; but probably it will be when they please. When we told Janeth Zambrano -an official working for IVI Miranda- that one of the persons involved was tired of waiting, she answered that it was not her business; she never minds if we receive or have any house."

They want President Chávez to meet with them and hear their case. "At Rosendo Castillo refuge, conditions are pathetic. Sewage does not work, restrooms collapsed. It is a never-ending nightmare. And the police wants to storm in anytime."

Refugees complained almost unanimously of the abuses by IVI Miranda staff. Karen Acevedo, the coordinator of Karen refuge, in the city of Guatire, claimed that Iralis Camargo, the agency head, has lied consistently.

Giarin Espańa reported that some homeless have received deeds for non-existing houses.

A group of coordinators managed to meet with personnel of the National Housing Institute (Conavi), who acted as mediators, and assured demonstrators that Miranda Governor Diosdado Cabello and IVI Miranda senior officers would take care of the issue.

Translated by Conchita Delgado

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