Archivos de la categoría ‘Turismo’

Inicia la temporada turística en Venezuela, hace casi un mes y medio se anuncio el cierre del Teleférico para ejecutar labores de mantenimiento, necesarias previo a la temporada, así fue y hace poco mas de una semana inicia nuevamente las labores con turistas hasta Pico Espejo, se supone que todo estaba a punto.

Sin embargo este viernes 13 de 2.018, en medio de una operación de rescate, en horario no turístico (afortunadamente), se mueve el sistema para auxiliar a una excursionista, se requería evacuarla inmediatamente desde Pico Espejo hasta Mérida pues presentaba un cuadro de mal de altura grave, y ocurrió lo que no debía ocurrir, el sistema fallo dejando a rescatistas y lesionada colgados entre Loma Redonda y Pico Espejo durante mas de 6 horas, a mas de 4 mil metros sobre el nivel del mar y con temperaturas cercanas a 0º, recordando la muy triste operación de rescate del 24 de noviembre del año 1.991, cuando la rotura de una guaya portadora en el mismo tramo hizo que cayera una cabina dejando 2 muertos y evacuando a mas de 40 turistas quienes permanecieron en las mismas condiciones que el pasado viernes 13, colgados a mas de 100 metros desde una cabina, obligando a los turistas a descender por medio de una guaya y posteriormente por áreas escarpadas con vestimenta y calzado no adecuado.

Cabe la pregunta entonces, ¿qué paso?, ¿por qué no se detecto una falla hidráulica durante el periodo de revisión y mantenimiento?, ¿ se cumplieron los protocolos de seguridad correspondientes?, ¿acaso las maquinas no dan señal de fallas?.

También es válido recapacitar en base a la necesidad de una gerencia capaz y eficiente del sistema teleférico, ¿es necesario que los gerentes sean militares?, por más que se preparen, ¿está un militar capacitado para gerenciar un activo turístico tan importante, valioso y delicado como el teleférico de Mérida?, ¿hasta cuando el estado seguirá ciego frente a la ineptitud endemica en el manejo de bienes nacionales?.

Los sistemas de drenaje de aguas negras están dañados en Pico Espejo y Loma Redonda (generando graves problemas ambientales),  el sistema eléctrico en las estaciones no es autónomo (como lo era hasta cierto punto en el sistema viejo) del sistema que alimenta la ciudad de Mérida dejando vulnerable el funcionamiento del mismo, algunas áreas de la infraestructura fueron hechas con materiales no adecuados y el clima extremo ha hecho que se deterioren de manera rápida, ha habido fuga de personal capacitado en las distintas áreas (mecánica y eléctrica) a otros países debido a los bajos salarios y las condiciones poco favorables para el crecimiento profesional; esas son algunas de las situaciones que vive el teleférico, creo que es hora de decir BASTA, es necesario una gerencia adecuada,

¡ZAPATERO A SU ZAPATO!

Algunos detalles que empiezan a conocerse de la operación:

  1. El rescate fue hecho a través del Suizo (sistema teleférico de carga que va de Loma Redonda a Pico Espejo, tiene mas de 60 años y sus controles e infraestructura ha sido poco recuperada) pues no pudieron habilitar el tramo para turistas debido al voltaje insuficiente. Esta es la razón por la cual el teleférico lleva a los turistas solo hasta Loma Redonda (4ta estación).
  2. Los rescatistas lograron descender del  funicular ycaminar hasta Loma Redonda, la turista enferma tuvo que esperar dentro del funicular hasta que se logro activar el sistema.
  3. No funcionaron los Protocolos de Seguridad ni hay personal especializado en rescate dependiente de VENTEL, todos renunciaron o se fueron del país.
  4. Por primera vez en muchos años no son imputables a las instituciones de atención de emergencias (INPRADEM y Bomberos) las fallas en la atención de un incidente SAR, es un gran avance; pero un terrible retroceso el hecho que VENTEL desmantelara todo un trabajo en materia de Prevención y Atención de Emergencias, pues hasta un grupo de profesionales dependientes de su nomina tenian a disposición.
  5. Los militares no se pronuncian aún.

Cronología de los hechos, contada por Protección Civil.

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La jerarquía eclesiástica disfrutando de la barbarie

La jerarquía eclesiástica disfrutando de la barbarie

By Paul Dobson – Venezuelanalysis.com

Why have Venezuela’s self-identified revolutionary authorities failed to ban the brutal and reactionary spectacle of bullfighting in Merida, and what can this teach us about the contradictions in the Bolivarian process?

Every year grassroots campaigners stir from their slumber in the sleepy, opposition-controlled Andean town of Merida and take to the streets to protest for the banning of an activity which has been described by the current government as “a tourist attraction”, but which the local people of Merida despise, and which only 4% of the local population actually attends.

It is an activity which leaves any conscientious tourist deeply disturbed, which contributes nothing to the local economy, and which the vast majority of local residents neither support, enjoy, nor benefit from.

We are talking about the bullfighting, and more specifically the eclectic anti-bullfighting groups, of which there are a wide variety in Merida.

Earlier this year, Merida – which is the most famous bullfighting city in the country and whose fights form an intrinsic part of the Sun Festival (Feria del Sol), local Carnival celebrations – saw bullfights in its central ring from the 8th to 13th February. More than forty bulls were slaughtered. The white-skinned, well-off, Queen of the Carnival Beauty Pageant was present (alongside her losing competitors), as was the head of the Catholic Church, Balthazar Porras, the right-wing state governor, and the similarly right-wing mayor.

Every day saw two to five bullfights, in which the “majestic” matador pranced around the ring in his colonial-style outfit trying to kill his foe. It is worth noting that the matador held a certain advantage, given that firstly he is armed, secondly he is trained, thirdly he is sometimes on horseback, fourthly everyone was cheering him on (no one goes for the bull!), and fifthly, and crucially, the bulls were brutally stabbed and weakened before coming into the ring so as to “infuriate” them.

Should a bull do well (and by this experts in the area mean put up a good fight, worthy of his matador and the “important” spectators), once sacrificed he will be dragged around the ring by his tail to the cheers of the crazed, drunk crowds. If a bull has done exceptionally well, his tail, ear, or other body part may be cut off and gifted to the Queen of the Feria or the head of the Church in honour. Who knows what the Queen of the Feria does with this tail or ear afterwards… display it on her mantlepiece?

Propelling the city and certain sectors of its population every year back to the times of Spanish colonial rule, this activity bring up a painful history of a period in which thousands of animals were massacred for sport in the economic interests of their European masters.

It is widely accepted amongst anthropologists and historians that violence and the use of violence in sport were important social instruments of domination that maintained Spanish colonial hegemony in Latin America. Such disturbingly “light-hearted” violence was applied to both the local fauna as well as the local indigenous population, whom the colonialists considered little more than beasts.

Going even further back in history, one may be mistaken for comparing the drunken heat and crazed cries of the bullfighting ring in 2018 Merida with a scene from the Gladiator film, or any other more accurate depiction of the heated passion and bloody sands of the Roman Colosseum and all the social control which it brought to the Caesars of the time.

The use of “Bread and Circus” to distract people from daily hardships, to appease the local business class, and as an attempt to demonstrate human domination over “nature” and all of its beasts are aspects which undeniably existed in 1st Century Rome, and, one can argue, are intrinsic (if horrendous) elements of the bullfighting spectacle in Merida, Venezuela.

Venezuela is currently governed by a political movement which preaches the breaking of historic, imperialist, colonial ties. The government frequently talks of promoting local, endogenous traditions, of giving power to the people, of prioritising the poor and excluded over the rich and powerful. In 2013, the Maduro administration created the social project ‘Mission Nevado’, which looks to protect, safeguard and guarantee a dignified life for the animals of the country. How is it possible that, under these conditions, the holding of a blood-thirsty, cruel, and tortuous activity like bullfighting is still permitted?

How, one may ask, is this spectacle compatible with the construction of socialism, or 21st Century Socialism (as Chavez called it)?

The answer is complex, multifaceted, and this article will inevitably fall short of covering all of the relevant elements. However, to begin, one must see the holding of bullfights as just one of the many contradictions which characterises the Bolivarian process and the party at its helm, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

In addition, one must consider the powerful neo-colonial culture which persists in Merida, and equally one must recognise the failings of the local anti-bullfighting movement, which has undoubtedly contributed to the continuation of this activity. As with the ruling political party, which has the power to ban bullfighting, the other force capable of bringing about the prohibition of the activity – the anti-bullfighting groups in the region – suffer from plenty of internal contradictions, struggling to unite and act as one.

The anti-bullfighting movement encapsulate a diverse range of activists, including vegetarians, vegans, animal protection activists, anti-cruelty activists, socialists, anarchists, conservatives, working class, middle class, and even the odd upper class citizen, all pushing in their own way, manner, and style, for a single objective: the abolition of the yearly bullfighting festival which dates back to 1662.

“Some of these movements focus on the cruelty to the animals, others on lack of culture, some focus on armchair politics and others push for more direct action,” explains Juan Rondon, a local mathematics teacher, supporter of President Nicolas Maduro, and leader of one of these groups, the “Anti-Bullfighting Coalition”.

Other reasons which may partially explain why this activity has been allowed to continue in a country which claims to be marching towards socialism include looking at the powerful vested interests behind the activities by both high-placed members of the opposition and Chavista forces, and the lack of a serious alternative proposal to fill up the days of the Feria.

But, as Rondon argues, one of the primordial reasons is the social makeup of Merida itself, which has a class makeup with important elements similar to those in other regions of the world where bullfighting has flourished.

Understanding Merida

Merida is a city which, bar a brief exception between 2004-08, has been ruled by right-wing forces, with its population repeatedly voting by significant majority for those political parties which represent the traditional right, the conservative, landed, travelled, and wealthy sectors. Those who make up these parties (at the vanguard of their social class, as Gramsci would say) are the large landowners, the important religious men, the deans and high professors of the prestigious Andes University in Merida, and the large business owners, nearly all of whom are – particularly in Merida’s case – cosmopolitan, multilingual, and often feel much closer to their Spanish descendants than the rest of the city’s population.

“In Merida the bullfights form part of a cultural imposition which, for us, dates back to Spanish colonial times,” explains Rondon.

Bullfighting did not begin in Spain though, he elaborates: “Tracing the history of bullfighting, one can see how it started with the Romans, who took it to Egypt, France, Portugal, and yes, Spain.” Cultural, colonial, imposition, it seems, brought bullfighting to Spain, just as Spain bought it to Merida.

“In the Roman empire, it was, as it still is in Merida, ironically seen as a cultural activity of the more “civilised” peoples, those foreigners who are more “enlightened” and “advanced” than the local, indigenous population. For us here in Merida it forms part of the continued imposition of imperialist colonial culture over our own, local culture,” he continued.

Anyone who has “enjoyed” the Feria del Sol in Merida can testify to the truth of these “neo-colonial complexes”.

As the Spanish flamenco sounds out, and the spectators proudly drink Spanish sangria from their “botas” (leather bags which are filled with alcohol) and shout “ole”, one would be forgiven for thinking that they were in Madrid, Pamplona, or Valencia rather than the tropics.

Rondon explains that Merida is a city whose middle and upper classes in particular maintain strong connections to Spain, be they family ties, travel, or business, and whose heavily alienated working classes often aspire to such class mobility, replicating such traits from the “civilised homeland”.

“Merida has a middle class which has lived for a long time from the state through the University of the Andes,” explains Rondon.

The university is largely financed by the public budget, despite assuming a hostile attitude to the current government.

“This class alternates between being an intellectual left and a fascist right, but always claims to be superior to the rest whilst receiving their paycheck which stems from the public national budget,” he continues.

“This bourgeois class owns great areas of land and businesses in the state, and requisition a large percentage of the national oil income. They are unproductive and generally own non-monopoly based service industries,” he adds.

These middle class sectors, who aspire to join – or often simply to be seen with – the real upper classes of the city, are most often those who enjoy the spectacle, who fill the seats whilst tracing back their family lineage to find their last European “civilised” descendant and talking about them as if it were yesterday.

“[Merida’s working class] has a low level of class consciousness, doesn’t form part of an industrial sector, and generally works in construction or service industries,” explains Rondon.

In its majority, the “rural working class” in the Andean state are similarly “used to observing life in the city in a critical form, but rarely assume a class-based position to confront these problems. The right-wing who control the city and state constantly offer them Bread and Circus so that they are formed in their values,” he evaluates.

On nearly every bus, every street corner, and in most poor households, criticisms of this “Bread and Circus” can be heard, yet limited activism and a failure to take advantage of this discontent by the anti-bullfighting movement embellish these class-based issues Rondon explains.

Finally, in Merida, a city known for its violent extremist right-wing groups, there exists “a lumpen proletariat who showed their faces in February and March 2014, and more recently in 2017 during the guarimbas [violent anti-government street protests],” claims Rondon.

“It is a sector with an important violent component, making them susceptible to such expressions of violent domination and superiority as bullfighting.”

Bullfighting is not just financed by the bourgeois class, but also justified and promoted by other institutions of their cultural hegemony, principally the local press which is largely controlled by them.

One such example is ex-Mayor Fortunato Gonzalez Cruz in his well-circulated article The Bugles of the 2009 Feria in which in his exquisite vocabulary straight out of mainland Spain’s linguistic schools and with a neocolonial tint, Cruz explains how the bullfighting industry has developed.

Economic interests

One of the strongest arguments against this activity is economic.

Bizarrely, the Venezuelan state assigns copious amounts of foreign currency to finance the bullfights. The subsidy for this financing is a direct way of redistributing public taxes and the oil income, in this case to the organisers of the activities, the large landowners and the local bourgeoisie. For a revolutionary like Rondon, this is unacceptable and incompatible with a government which professes to build socialism.

“Some years ago, when we had plenty of national currency income, no one bothered to look at these accounts, but I have,” he tells VA.

“As a country, we are currently hard up, the drop in the price of oil has hit our national budget hard, and cuts are being made in public investment, hospitals, transport, education as a necessity. Yet at the same time, the national government continues to spend public money subsidising bullfighting, which is basically passing money from PDVSA [Venezuela’s state-run oil company] directly into the pockets of Merida’s landed bourgeoisie.”

Historically, bullfighting has always appeased the local large bourgeoisie, though not always through state subsidising. Roman businessmen and traders were the main benefactors when the Colosseum opened its doors, making copious profits from the slave trade, the supply of animals, providing accommodation, food, alcohol, and other services to the hordes who flocked to the capital. Large service-based business owners in Pamplona or Valencia, where modern day bullfighting brings in thousands, are those who reap the economic rewards from this activity.

Apart from state subsidies, significant private financing is thrown at Merida’s bullfighting by private companies, the Catholic Church, and important local individuals.

Private companies such as Rodriguez-Jauregui, who until recently organised the fights, imported the bulls, paid the matadors, and mixed companies such as Coremer, who own and lease out the bullfighting ring, channel such financing, creating huge profits for their directors and shareholders.

Private firm Rodriguez-Jauregui received $2,765,000 since 2012 at the subsidised exchange rate, which is normally used for medicine and food imports.

Coremer (previously Corealsa) is made up of shareholders which include the state government (51%), the municipal government (30%), and the University of the Andes (10%). The rest is made up of individuals, including the highest spokesperson for the Catholic Church in the region, Monsignor Balthazar Porras. Given this information, it is unsurprising that such powerful financial groups, who directly and indirectly benefit from the bullfighting activities, work so hard to stifle those campaigns aimed at banning it.

One of the arguments used by the business class refers to local trickle-down investment for the community and generating tax income.

“Most of those who benefit from the holding of the fights are the large businesses, or street venders, who make a fortune re-selling goods and beverages. The street sellers pay no municipal nor national taxes, and the large businesses generally have expensive accountants who find fiscal loopholes for them to pay the minimum necessary. The holding of the fights creates almost no extra jobs for Merida, and the profit made is highly concentrated in a few hands, nullifyitrickle-downle down economic argument in their favour,” he said.

“As the Feria is at the start of the year, year after year rightist mayors squander their entire budgets on it – it is a question of prestige for them. Thereafter, no money is left for rubbish collection, paying teachers, or the whole other draft of responsibilities of the mayor,” stated Rondon.

Merida has suffered from a rubbish collection problem for nearly two decades, but it seems that no-one really pays much attention to this, as long as they still have their Feria! Bread and Circus I hear you cry?

“[Bullfighting] makes [the bourgeois class] feel civilised, Spanish. They make huge amounts of money from it, be it through shares in Coremer, sucking the oil income of the nation through state subsidies, using the large extensions of land in the state for bull rearing, and even the week-long boom for everyone who owns a hotel, liquor shop, or who has enough money to invest in special merchandise which is then resold on the street, tax free, for a massive mark-up. But the average man and woman make nothing from bullfighting,” Rondon continues.

But Merida’s local rentier bourgeoisie is not the only force behind maintaining bullfighting. As we’ll see, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, powerful family interests, the university and the church have also given its tacit support to the feria.

Political failings

In light of such an apparently strong case against this remnant of colonial times on account of its clear contradiction with the stated goals of building socialism and promoting endogenous Venezuelan culture, what stops the leftist authorities in Caracas from banning it?

Reaction to such campaigns within the governing PSUV has always been mixed. This is partly due to vested particular interests (ex-Governor Marcos Diaz Orellana, for example, was an open supporter, whilst numerous PSUV politicians have shares in the lucrative activity), and partly due to the lack of a serious proposal to replace it in the context of the cultural festivities of Carnival.

Despite significant agricultural production, scarcely populated Merida has historically been ignored by Caracas in the course of national and regional policy-making.

The only regional political force which has openly taken a stance on the matter has been the Communist Party of Venezuela, and even this came after years of internal struggle against certain members of the party who enjoyed the spectacle.

There is, however, precedent for a successful struggle, as Rondon explains.

Caracas’ former socialist mayor, Juan Barretto, banned bullfighting in the capital in 2005 and gave the municipally-run bullfighting ring over to animal rights groups that later evolved into the Nevado Mission.

In other localities, conscientious PSUV mayors have also banned the activity, such as in San Felipe in 2015.

An interesting case is that of Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second largest city in the far west of the country. Maracaibo has been governed by right-wing forces for numerous years. Yet, in the recent municipal elections, PSUV candidate Willy Casanova surprisingly overturned this opposition majority and won the city back for the PSUV. As his first decree, he banned bullfighting from this extremely wealthy city, making a name for himself in the anti-bullfighting movement nationwide.

These isolated examples of Chavista authorities who have banned this horrendous spectacle stand in sharp contrast to the right-wing opposition’s complete and utter support for the issue, not just, not just in Merida, but across Venezuela.

What’s next for the anti-bullfighting movement?

It is hard to say what combination of local activism and shifts in the national political scene is necessary for this activity to be finally banned.

Local efforts to mount an “alternative festival” have largely failed, due to the monopoly which the pro-bullfighting sectors hold on the media and the weaknesses of left-wing cultural organisations in the region.

Regional chapters of the PSUV and Communist Party will have to take a firmer and more consistent stand on this issue as it is probable that they will have to play a key role in any future ban, which can be brought about through a state-wide referendum.

In 2013, local anti-bullfighting forces reached arguably their highest point of popular organisation when they achieved enough signatures to legally request a local referendum on the question from the electoral authorities (CNE), using Article 14 of the Law for the Protection of Domestic Fauna (Free and in Captivity).

The legal mechanism was, however, “buried” according to Rondon due to the “complex situation of the time”. The “situation” to which Rondon refers to was the unstable period immediately following President Maduro’s narrow electoral victory in April 2013, in which the Merida CNE office, like many across the country, was besieged by violent groups of opposition militants and terrorists, collapsing the city and the institution and forcing the activation of all contingency plans.

Uniting the diverse anti-bullfighting currents may well be doomed to failure, due to the multi-class nature of their members, and the internal differences of opinion not just on how to approach this issue, but on a whole range of other tactical questions.

It is probable that whilst Merida remains a city ruled by right-wing forces, bullfighting and all the profits it brings its benefactors will continue. Hence, one may tentatively conclude, that only by installing a left-wing mayor (as the Maracaibo case shows), can these anti-bullfighting movement really fulfill its goal.

In the meanwhile, this case study raises interesting questions concerning the relationship between federal and regional forces in the PSUV, the internal power battles between factions within the ruling party, and with regard to the struggle of grassroots movements based in the communities against powerful economic interests.

It also brings to the fore contradictions between the discourse and action of the current government, problematizing the strategies of confrontation and appeasement of powerful local groupings pursued by both President Chavez and Maduro.

Whilst the anti-bullfighting movement grapples with these many contradictions, bulls continue to be slaughtered, and the local population continues to be appeased with their bloody bread and circus spectacle.

This article was compiled from numerous interviews with Juan Rondon, as well material taken from his blog

Portada The Economist, Octubre 2017

Edición de Octubre 2017, The Economist

Con agrado y curiosidad leí el articulo de The Economist sobre “La muerte del Glaciar del Humboldt de Venezuela (The death of Venezuela’s Humboldt glacier)” en su edición tanto impresa como digital, por eso ésta entrada la voy a dedicar a relatar una experiencia vivida en ese glaciar y algunos puntos sobre las íes que se hacen necesario respecto al enfoque político-economicista (es una revista de economía) que el autor ofrece al indicar de inmediato en el copete: “La turbulencia política está haciendo imposible que los científicos lo estudien (Political turmoil is making it impossible for scientists to study it)”.

A continuación el artículo integro en ingles:

The death of Venezuela’s Humboldt glacier

Political turmoil is making it impossible for scientists to study it

VENEZUELA is a tropical country, with rainforest in the south and east, and baking savannah stretching towards its northern Caribbean coast. The Sierra Nevada de Mérida mountain range in the north-west offers relief from the heat. In 1991 five glaciers occupied nooks near their peaks. Now, just one remains, lodged into a cwm west of Pico Humboldt. Reduced to an area of ten football pitches, a tenth of its size 30 years ago, it will be gone within a decade or two. Venezuela will then be the first country in the satellite age to have lost all its glaciers.

The retreat of the Humboldt glacier, named for Alexander von Humboldt, a German explorer of the 19th century, is the final stage of a 20,000-year process, the recession of an ice sheet that covered 600 square km (about 230 square miles) of Venezuela in the most recent ice age. Climate change has sped it up.

Scientists want to study the glacier in its final years but Venezuela’s tumultuous politics is making that difficult. Carsten Braun, a glaciologist at Westfield State University in Massachusetts, thinks his most recent visit in 2015 was the last by any scientific expedition. Even then, conditions were “a little dicey”. Men in military uniform pulled him off a bus and interrogated him. Now, Venezuela’s hyperinflation and rampant crime make it too dangerous to travel with the bundles of dollars needed by mountaineering scientists.

It is no longer worth hauling heavy machinery to the glacier to extract samples from it; Humboldt is too small and dirt-caked for that. But Mr Braun would like to dot it with sensors to measure water run-off, and erect weather stations to capture data on wind, temperature and barometric pressure. That would help him understand how weather influences the melting of tropical glaciers. Until Venezuela calms down, Mr Braun will be restricted to monitoring the Humboldt glacier’s decline remotely, using satellite imagery, which just reveals how fast it is melting.

That is a loss not just for science but for people in other Andean countries who rely on meltwater from tropical glaciers. In springtime that runoff is an important source of water for residents of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, for example. Closer study of Humboldt’s decline might provide knowledge that could help them. Venezuela’s ever-deepening crisis makes it impossible for now.

Una vivencia.

Glaciar humboldt

Glaciar Universidad, por el año 2000

Desde 1992 ando pateando montañas y el Humboldt fue el Pico icono para la práctica de la escalada en hielo, tenía en aquellos años un glaciar enorme y estaban claramente definidas las vertientes norte, noreste y la normal o sur con su glaciar Universidad, el más grande puesto que el Glaciar Timoncito (en la base del Pico Bolívar) ya había desaparecido por completo.

Por el año dos mil, escalando el Humbold con mi compañera de entonces, Sibyl Brugger (Geógrafa especialista en avalanchas del Eidg. Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF, Suiza) pude notar que en menos de dos años el Glaciar Universidad había retrocedido de manera alarmante, había desaparecido una pared llamada Los Hielitos, pared de hielo vertical donde años atrás había pasado el susto de mi vida al quedar colgado de un piolet.

Debido a la desaparición de Los Hielitos se había destapado la  roca hasta mucho más arriba de la laguna homónima, en la pata del glaciar (ahora mucho más arriba) se había creado una gran fosa donde escurría el agua del deshielo.

Sibyl y yo caminamos todo el nuevo perímetro del glaciar, mi impresión no paraba y Sibyl (quien había estado conmigo en años anteriores en el mismo glaciar desaparecido) expresaba aún más su asombro pues tenía los conocimientos técnicos geológicos sobre lo que estaba ocurriendo.

La pernocta esa noche en la Laguna Verde, lugar de nuestro campamento, no fue del todo serena pues Sibyl me explicaba que esa gran fosa podía generar un gran desastre si los bloques de hielo superiores caían y hacían que el agua se desbordara; si eso ocurría de seguro la inundación iba a llegar a nuestro campamento. Afortunadamente no ocurrió nada, pero escuchaba con mucha atención las experiencias que Sibyl había estudiado en Suiza al respecto. Acordamos avisar al personal de INPARQUES de esa gran fosa y el peligro que podría generar. Hay fotografías de esa excursión, espero que Sibyl las digitalice para compartirlas, son testigos sin duda de una etapa muy rápida del retroceso de los glaciares en la Sierra Nevada de Mérida.

Mr. Braun y la Sierra Nevada de Mérida.

Mr. Carster Braun

Fotografía tomada del Blog de Carster Braun

Dice el articulista de The Economist que quizás sea Mr.Carster Braun, glaciólogo de la Westfield State University en Massachusetts USA, el último científico que ha logrado llegar al Humboldt a pesar de que en el año de su visita (2015) tuvo algún inconveniente con la policía, quien lo bajo de un autobús para interrogarlo, aduce también el articulista que las condiciones de hiperinflación y el crimen hace que hoy sea muy peligroso hacer una expedición para los montañistas con interés científico. Más adelante voy a demostrar que no fue el primero ni el último en hacer trabajos científicos en nuestra sierra, a pesar de las crisis económicas, políticas, sociales o mentales de los venezolanos.

En efecto, Mr. Carster Braun tiene en su blog: https://carstenbraun.us/ muchísimos trabajos de investigación en relación a su área de estudio, pero resalto el siguiente: Braun, C. and Bezada, M., 2013, The Disappearance of Glaciers in Venezuela. Journal of Latin American Geography, 12(2), 85-124. Este articulo tiene como co-autor a Maximiliano Bezada de la Universidad Pedagogica Libertador, en Caracas, he aquí el resumen de dicho trabajo.

Resumen
La desaparición de los glaciares en Venezuela es narrada cronológicamente a
través de una extensa recopilación y análisis de la literatura científica, mapas y
fotografías históricas. Un análisis de datos climáticos y mapeo GPS en 2009 y
2011 proporcionan el contexto moderno del único remanente glacial presente.
La recesión glacial venezolana durante el siglo veinte es similar a otras partes de América del Sur y en consonancia con los efectos previstos del cambio climático regional. Hoy en día, solo un glaciar con una superficie de aproximadamente 0.1 km2 queda en los Andes venezolanos cerca la ciudad de Mérida, este probablemente desaparecerá en la presente década. Sin embargo, la falta de datos sobre el balance de masa de este glaciar limita nuestra capacidad de apreciar la historia de los glaciares en Venezuela y un programa de monitoreo integral se necesita con urgencia antes de que Venezuela se convierta en un país totalmente libre de hielo glacial.

La Universidad de Los Andes y su relación con el Pico Humboldt.

Ahora, quiero compartir con Ustedes otros extraordinarios trabajos que se han hecho sobre el retroceso glacial en nuestra Sierra Nevada, hechos por nuestra gente, merideños quienes día a día ven el retroceso de esa hermosa Águila Blanca y que mas allá de la realidad que vivimos (muy dura a veces), nos permiten ratificar que nunca hemos parado de trabajar, de investigar y tratar de dar soluciones a nuestros problemas.

picos altos

imagenes pico humboldtY por último el Libro del Dr. Carlos Chalbaud Zerpa, La Historia de la Sierra Nevada de Mérida, lo dejo para su libre descarga y difusión.

Parte 1.

Parte 2.

Parte 3.

Nuevas Iniciativas.

Hace pocos años, quizás 2 máximo, bajando del Humbold coincido con un grupo quienes me indicaron que estaban tomando muestras y haciendo mediciones sobre el glaciar, eran estudiantes de la Universidad de Los Andes, no recuerdo cual fue el trabajo que me indicaron estaban haciendo, de lo que si estoy seguro es de un programa de  la Universidad de Los Andes denominado Merida 2030… hacia la merida que queremos y el proyecto de la Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Ambientales: Retroceso de glaciares y colonizacion periglacial en los picos Bolívar, Humbolt y Bomplad (Andes de Venezuela) de Oriana Karina Camacho Pérez.

Estas son quizás las iniciativas visibles de los estudios que se están llevando a cabo en la actualidad y espero con mucha sinceridad que el estimulo y las ganas no se les acabe, pues recursos estoy seguro que no tienen.

A modo de nota final.

Como se pudo leer, más allá del drama con el que se expone el tema en The Ecnomist, hay una realidad, una Universidad que con sus limitaciones, estudia, trabaja, investiga y trata de dar algún tipo de respuesta a situaciones coyunturales, pero sobre todo un grupo de ciudadanos que, a pesar de las desgracias a que son sometidos por su clase política, sigue haciendo lo mejor que puede en la continuidad de estudios y líneas de investigación apegadas a su entorno.

Quizás si haga falta orientar la investigación en los aspectos que Mr. Braun menciona, pero el equipamiento que él indica puede ser fácilmente proporcionado por facultades de la Universidad de Los Andes. Creo que mas allá de la lamentación, Mr. Braun debería hacer contacto con los equipos e instituciones adecuadas para hacer un trabajo inter universitario y sin necesidad de él salir de su zona de confort recibir los datos necesarios, querer es poder, dicen por allí.

A finales de los 1800 y los primeros 25 años de los 1900, mientras Venezuela se desangraba en guerras y luchas por el poder, en Mérida se visitaban los glaciares y las montañas con intereses científico y deportivo, por siempre la Sierra Nevada ha aislado un poco el realismo mágico de la política de estas tierras, por eso Mr. Braun no será el último científico o montañista que suba el Humboldt.

Si alguien sabe de otro proyecto orientado al estudio de los glaciares, hágamelo saber, con gusto lo difundire.

¡La desaparición de los glaciares es inevitable, es un fenomeno natural acelerado por nuestra sociedad!

Deja el drama y trata de cambiar tus hábitos para intentar que duren un poquito más.