National Housing Institute INAVI is building in Guarenas the Las Mandarinas apartment complex for poor Venezuelans without worthy homes.
Las Mandarinas consists of eight towers of five floors each and eight apartments per floor, totaling 320 apartments, some are 3 bed/2 bath and others are 2 bed/2 bath. One parking space per apartment.
INAVI pays private contractors about Bs 66 million (BsF 66,000) per apartment to develop housing solutions like Las Mandarinas.
Then INAVI adjudicates the finished apartments to buyers who file applications claiming they are poor and do not have decent homes.
This adjudication process includes prioritization of prospective candidates by confirmed ideological loyalty to the revolution.
But INAVI officials who control/influence the adjudication process also charge under-the-table “fees” – so INAVI gives the apartment for free but INAVI officials charge bribes to guarantee apartments will become available.
Caracas Gringo has spoken personally with over 100 of the “owners” of Las Mandarinas apartments, and in every single case, without exception, they received the apartments completely free. They were unwilling to talk about bribe-paying, but enough admissions were obtained (over 30) to assume INAVI officials collect bribes from everyone who builds or is adjudicated a dwelling.
What’s more, INAVI requires the contractors who built Las Mandarinas to customize individual apartments for free.
The contractors also tell Caracas Gringo that over one-third of the “workers” employed at Las Mandarinas (1) do not work a single day but show up faithfully every Friday to collect their week’s pay, (2) are employed as armed goons by different Bolivarian construction unions to extort money from the contractors, or (3) belong to local armed gangs which operate criminal enterprises (protection rackets, stolen goods, drug trafficking, etc.).
It’s easier for the contractors to hire these thugs than ignore or reject them, in order to ensure their construction machinery isn’t vandalized/stolen and legitimate workers and engineers/architects are not harassed, robbed, carjacked, etc.
By the way, this pattern repeats at every single government housing project in Venezuela, the contractors at Las Mandarinas tell Caracas Gringo.
Are the contractors losing money? Only if they stay with the projects from start to finish. If they get in and out quickly, collecting millions in “adelantos” (working capital) from INAVI, they turn a profit.
The project we’re talking about here already has experienced a turnover in contractors at least once, though several residents tell Caracas Gringo the current contractor is the third company to work on the project since it started.
But it doesn’t stop there. Many of the original beneficiaries of the apartments adjudicated by INAVI are now selling them for Bs. 150 million (BsF 150,000) and up.
They’re doing this for two reasons, basically:
First, they want to cash in on the opportunities to make a quick killing financially. It’s all about the “negocio,” making a buck, getting a lot for very little (or, in this case, nothing because the apartments were free). The Venezuelan mentality, the culture, is all about cashing in big with easy and profitable “negocios” – deals. INAVI gives them money for nothing.
Second, living in Las Mandarinas is hellish. Electricity is provided by a small mobile diesel generator owned by a contractor who quit the project because it wasn’t paid by INAVI. The lights flicker constantly and outages happen daily. Water has to be trucked in, which means standing in line to get water in small containers. Public lighting is unfinished and what was completed is breaking down. CANTV hasn’t installed land lines yet and there’s no cellular service in the area. No one takes care of the public and green areas. There’s also an unsavory armed element in the neighborhood, calling itself Bolivarian but basically consisting of criminal predators.
Given the extraordinary thievery and corruption which characterizes the Chavez regime, who can blame many residents of Las Mandarinas for cashing in and getting out of there ASAP?