El Helicoide

El Helicoide is the name for an unusual helical construction that stands atop a hill in the center of Caracas, Venezuela.  It was considered to be a very modern concept at the time it was built in 1961, under the dictatorship of Pres. Jimenez.  It was intended to be a large modern shopping and entertainment center, but with the fall of the Jimenez Government and the eventual take-over of Venezuela by the socialist Govt. of Hugo Chavez, it was turned into a shelter for the increasing number of homeless people and eventually was largely trashed.

Under Pres Maduro who replaced Chavez, at first two floors, then most of the structure were taken over by the Venezuelan Secret Police (that always accompany a socialist state to remove “enemies of the people”) known as Sebin.  They simply converted former offices and stores into jail cells, and crowded them with people arrested on the street for demonstrating.  According to a recent BBC documentary, in some small rooms there were up to 100 people, given only a mattress, no water and no toilet facilities.  Many have died in there from neglect and beatings. There was systematic torture, still going on, during which completely innocent people were forced to confess to crimes, without any due process or legal system.  Some people managed to survive for 2 years in there and were released due to outside interference from foreign judicial pressure and the UN.

The irony of this striking helical architectural structure spiraling down into a prison and torture center is not missed.  As the Maduro dictatorship also spirals down into total chaos, having turned a prosperous oil-producing state into a basket case, with one million percent inflation.  Having  destroyed the oil industry and caused 2-3 million Venezuelans to flee the country to neighboring countries, including Colombia.  There is no food, no medicine and no livelihoods.  Now, finally the US has transferred its support to the alternate President  Guaido and has called a meeting of the UN  Security Council and with the support of the EU and many European countries, they are considering what to do about Venezuela and how to get rid of Maduro.  But, he still has some supporters, such a Cuba and Russia, who else?  Let’s hope the Venezuelan people will soon be freed from this authoritarian communist mess.