Caracas sin Cabré / Mario Morenza

Caracas without Cabré

From the balcony Fabiana and I have witnessed how the city’s silhouette changes continuously. Buildings grow and an entire block of houses crumbles. A neighborhood is lifted and three others are born on top of what used to be a park or a parking lot. The city, with its Guaire river, with its Parque Central towers, becomes dangerous and gray at night and during the day, with its criminals who, just like streetlights, don’t feel time. The city ripens and grows fat like humans do, though not with grease and calories, but rather with cement and vehicles that install insufferable traffic. And yet, Caracas is still there, it endures and expands. Fabiana and I have been slow witnesses to the changes. The city grows downwards, subterraneously through the Metro lines. It grows toward its sides so as to join with suburbs and commuter cities in a single gray stain. The hills are populated and abandoned, so as to be savagely populated once again. Our mountains aren’t green, but rather brick and zinc. The ecosystem has reinvented itself in order to establish a new stratification. It has no trees, only light posts and stairways improvised by an architectural anarchy. The city moves and breathes and we are the ones responsible for this disturbing unreality. Coche, Catia, Chacao, Casalta, Caricuao, Cotiza, La Candelaria, after all, Caracas is full of citizens who are consumed by life and unreality, order and the notion of law wear a police uniform, from this city whose neighborhoods have lots of Cs, the most ruthless angels. Coche, Catia, Chacao, Casalta, Caricuao, Cotiza, La Candelaria, after all, Caracas is being recognized throughout the world because it devours lives amid its smoke, its cement and its river of manure that cuts through it like a dagger. Caracas is always there, sticking its tongue out at us and about to play a dirty trick on us. “Stop right there,” any criminal says to us on any day pretending to be a stoplight.

Translator’s note: Manuel Cabré (1890-1984) was an artist known for his landscape paintings of Caracas.

{ Mario Morenza, La senda de los diálogos perdidos, Caracas: Editorial Equinoccio, 2008 }

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