The High Speed Train Project Failure

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

Over a decade ago it was touted as part of a new future for Venezuela; a high speed train network that would help build a socialist Venezuela and carry ordinary Venezuelans to every part of the country in an effort to create new towns and cities in the Venezuelan hinterland. Fast-forward to today and it could not be more of a cruel joke. None of the rails were ever set up. The very factories that produced the rails and even the high speed train have long been abandoned. The Chinese consortium that attempted to build the whole thing has long since gone and taken its loans and Chinese personnel with it. The Venezuelan workers who were employed by the Chinese company to build this high speed train network have long since lost their jobs, and the very buildings and infrastructure that had been built was looted by Venezuelans for whatever parts they could get.

As Venezuela tips toward collapse, possible civil war or a total breakdown reminiscent of Somalia, even the Venezuelan socialist government’s one-time ally and business partner China is abandoning them. This is not hard to figure out why—with an economy ready to collapse, its people without basic goods or foods, and violent crime everywhere, why stay? The Chinese government had hoped to have a major foothold in South America through Venezuela. Right now, that foothold is very tenuous. The complete abandonment of the high speed rail project is just one example of how the socialist movement in Venezuela has left that country a total mess. With strict currency controls in place, the Chinese company in charge of the project could not move capital through Venezuela, and could not move capital in and out of the country. It could not pay its workers on time or at all, and the very materials and equipment that the Chinese company needed to make the project a reality could not be obtained either.

Hence, the whole project collapsed, and it seems unlikely that any high speed trains will ever be in use in Venezuela under the current socialist government. Interestingly enough, the Chinese government has actually met with the Venezuelan opposition. Their reasoning is to play both ends—work with the Venezuelan socialist government, and if that does not work then work with the opposition. This way the Chinese government hopes to salvage some influence in this South American country one way or the other. But if Venezuela totally falls apart, then will the Chinese government be able to salvage anything at all? But Venezuela going the way of Somalia will not just be a major problem for only China. It will be a disaster for Venezuela’s neighbors as well as the for the whole of the Americas.

Comments are closed.