One man’s trash is another man’s…trash

Incendio-San-Josecito-Daniel-CeballosHeres a piece of news that got buried under the week’s turmoil – the San Josecito dumping ground has been ablaze since the beginning of February (yet again) causing the collapse of solid waste collection in the city of San Cristobal and 10 other municipalities (yet again). Meanwhile, Vielma Mora, the state’s Governor seems to have his hands full with the recent student protests, and has basically ignored the issue, and the mayors – feeling abandoned – have threatened to take the matter in to their own hands.

Solid waste management is considered the biggest environmental concern in Venezuela. The problem is far from recent, and has only gotten worse with the collapse of old and inefficent dumping sites. Some of these sites were never planned and were chosen without care for infrastructure or sanitation requirements. The few landfills that were actually planned sometimes function with the minimum requirements. Many times they even lack the landfill liner that prevents leachate to reach groundwater or other bodies of water.

Such is the case of San Josecito, born 25 years ago as a improvised dumping site. The authorities rushed back in 2009 to “make it comply” with the 2004 law of solid waste disposal, and “transformed” it into a proper landfill – basically, they decided to throw some gravel on the existing trash and call it a day. Sources inside San Josecito tell me that they haven’t been covering the solid waste with granulated material in quite some time, due to lack of equipment and personnel, so it really it’s still acting like an informal dumping site. And when dumping sites are treated this way, fires break out.

Back in 2012, Vielma Mora gave a heart warming speech on how they would work together to fix the problem. Well, Mora, time’s up.

8 thoughts on “One man’s trash is another man’s…trash

  1. Audrey,

    I am thankful someone else is noticing the environmental disaster we have now virtually in every region.
    It seems Nigeria is currently dealing more efficiently with its waste than we are.
    This problem has been happening in several parts of Gran Valencia (aka Carabobo) for years now. The different mayors of the Greater Valencia area spend their time fighting with each other about waste issues like they were children. The waste mafias and Venezuelans’ legendary contempt for the environment in general also add to the problem.

    Extremely toxic waste is just dumped and burnt in places such as Tocuyito – the same place where we have the highest murder rate of Carabobo, the same place where we have one of the worst jails in Venezuela, the same place where the Carabobo Battle took place.

    Fires have been the usual thing for years now. Children in Tocuyito have lots of skin and respiratory problems. The waste gets into the underground water, which keeps replenishing the incredibly polluted Valencia Lake.

    Do national leaders talk about these massive problems that are destroying Venezuelans’ future? No, never.

    In Venezuela it seems you have to be an eco freak or an environmental ecologist to care for these issues.


    • El eje ambiental es uno de los más ignorados e incomprendidos del Venezuela. Mi percepción es que la sociedad en general no comprende los servicios y valores ambientales que provienen de los ecosistemas, por lo tanto, no entienden la necesidad de cuidarlos. Además, nuestra percepción sobre conservación está plagada de clichés inservibles pintados en murales sucios por las capitales: “Cuida tu Ambiente”.


      • La sensibilidad ambientalista no es la mas alta en Venezuela y creo que en muy pocos paises en desarrollo por que es el tipo de problema que se ve venir poco a poco y la gente entonces tiende a desestimarlo .En china misma hasta hace muy poco se daba importancia oficial al medio ambiente pero en la practica muy escasa. Anora el gobierno se dio cuenta que el problema es rea;l y el momento de atacarlo es ahora y entiendo que estan tomando medidas para enfrentarlo con mucho organizacion y recursos . Cuando despertemos ya sera demasiado tarde y no habra nada que hacer. . ojala aprendamos a prestar atencion a este tipo de asuntos que se nos vienen encima y para los que no estamos preparados !!


    • Come on, Audrey is addressing a very imoprtant issue here. I live in Caracas after a long stay abroad and I cannot believe my hometown was/is such a dumpster. We deserve better and somebody must raise awareness on this problem.

      A few weeks (or months?) ago El Universal had a very detailed report on the solid waste disposal in Caracas (I cannot find it now, sadly).

      I live in Municipio Libertador and it’s pretty hard to recycle paper, plastic or cardboard. I have to go to Chacao (not exactly around the corner) to find a recycling collection center. And it’s closed for almost a month each year (end of December- mid January)!

      If that’s the situation here, I cannot imagine how terrible it must be in small cities and in rural areas.

      I am looking forward to any proposal on water, waste disposal and how to raise awareness on these topics.

      Audrey: just keep them coming, please.


    • It strikes me not only as an interesting article, but a pretty good metaphor for what is going on in Venezuela right now. The regime has built a trash pile for a decade or more, and now it is burning.


    • Go to reddit vzla and noticierodigital forums (beware ND is half and half true / untrue). There are feeds on reddit. If you understand spanish it is a plus but google translate is good enough.

      I’m surprised they stuck it out as long as they have and the movement appears to be getting bigger.


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