Daily Archives: November 28, 2007

Rising immigration could double population of Britain by 2081

Migrants on their way to Britain? Increasing numbers of immigrants are pushing up population levels and could help them reach almost 110 million by 2081

Daily Mail | Nov 28, 2007

By STEVE DOUGHTY

The population of Britain could soar to more than 100million in just over 60 years’ time, figures prepared by Whitehall experts showed yesterday.

Their calculations set out the huge increase in numbers if migration continues at sky-high levels, birthrates continue to rise, and life expectancy keeps on going up.

Their figures outstripped all previous predictions and said that the population will shoot up from the present level of just over 60million to hit 100million in the late 2060s.

By 2081, 74 years from now, the population will have almost doubled to just under 109million, they said.

The projections by the Government Actuary’s Department, a specialist organisation operating under the wing of the Treasury, say what will happen if the upward pressure on population continues at the highest possible levels.

They compare their figures with a prediction from the Government’s Office for National Statistics which says the most likely size of the population in 2051 is 77million. The new projections say the figure may be over 90million by then.

Predictions of even greater population increases come in a week when teachers and Health Service workers have been warning of growing difficulties because of population pressures.

Migration, which brings the greatest upward push on the population, is at the centre of concern over the need for more housing, transport, schools and hospitals to cope with growing numbers.

Local authorities are protesting that existing population figures do not reflect real numbers.

The new figures also embarrassed ministers, who have been caught out repeatedly in errors over the real impact of immigration.

Home Office immigration minister Liam Byrne told MPs yesterday that the highest possible level of the population in 2081 was 91million – nearly 18million short of the numbers being published in Whitehall as he spoke.

Home Office officials said Mr Byrne had been using estimates that took into account high migration, but not high birthrates or fast-rising life expectancy.

The minister’s admission came during a hearing on immigration conducted by the home affairs select committee.

Several members of the committee expressed concern at the impact of migration on public services such as schools, housing and crime.

Despite their concerns, Mr Byrne insisted that migration continued to have “enormous economic benefits” and cited figures suggesting that overseas workers were adding £6 billion a year to British national output.

The scale of the new estimates suggests population increases in this century will match those of the industrial revolution during the 19th century.

The population doubled from 20million to 41million in 80 years between 1821 and 1901. But in more than 100 years since 1901, numbers have gone up by just 50 per cent.

The figures from the Actuary’s Department brought warnings from migration think-tanks and opposition politicians.

Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch said: “This is a sharp reminder of what could happen to our population during this century if the Government fails to take action very soon to bring a halt to mass immigration.

“They have consistently underestimated the scale of immigration. They have had to raise their assumptions of future net immigration six times since 1997. We cannot afford mistakes of this kind.”

Current Government assumptions say net immigration – the number of who come to live in Britain minus the number who emigrate – is likely to go on at 190,000 a year. The estimate was raised this autumn from 145,000.

But the high-level estimates from the Actuary’s Department take into account possible net immigration of 250,000 a year. This is about the level recorded by Whitehall in 2004, when figures put net immigration at 244,000.

In 2006, official figures said net immigration was 191,000.

The Actuary’s Department also reckoned birthrates will increase. Its high estimates expect women to have 2.04 children each, instead of the 1.84 at present.

Birthrates are currently rising fast thanks to higher numbers of children born to recently arrived migrants. In 2001, the rate was 1.63 children for each woman.

The new projections also rely on life expectancy improving at a rate of 2 per cent each year. That would mean that a man would live to 84.7 as opposed to 77.3 now, and a woman to 87.5 instead of 81.7.

The Actuary’s Department said that at the lowest possible estimates, the population towards the end of this century will be little higher than it is now. That prediction relies on the lowest birthrate prediction, a much lower improvement in life expectancy, and low-level immigration.

Influx of Eastern Europeans is unabated

The record influx of migrants from Eastern Europe shows no sign of stopping – with thousands who initially headed to Ireland moving here, a Bank of England expert said last night.

Professor David Blanchflower told the Lords Economic Affairs Committee that migrants who arrived alone from countries such as Poland were now bringing over their families.

He also said Eastern Europeans who at first headed to Ireland could soon flock to Britain, where there is more readily available building work.

There are more than 80,000 Eastern Europeans in the Republic. As a result, he said, the Office for National Statistics’ prediction of migrants swelling the population by around 190,000 every year would prove accurate. This was only recently upgraded from 145,000.

Professor Blanchflower, a member of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, also said the arrival of Eastern Europeans had forced down the wages of British workers by reducing the average pay rise.

Pro-Putin youth out to take Duma by storm

 

Members of Nashi’s volunteer patrol force have been training with the police to counter possible opposition demonstrations

Telegraph | Nov 25, 2007

By Colin Freeman in Moscow

With a Vladimir Putin badge pinned to his bright red campaign scarf, Robert Schlegel is preaching a revolution the likes of which Russia has never seen. Things will, he promises, keep going just as they are.

“After 100 years of our country being in total crisis, we at last have a chance to live normally,” he declared proudly. “Thanks to President Putin, we, the young generation, have prospects like never before.”

In the case of Mr Schlegel, a 23-year-old video production boss, those prospects are well-advanced. He is standing for office in this week’s parliamentary elections and could become the Duma’s youngest member.

The reason he may beat candidates twice or three times his age is not simply down to the overwhelming dominance of United Russia, the pro-Putin party under whose ticket he is running. Mr Schlegel is also a leading member of Nashi, the 100,000-strong, Kremlin-backed youth movement set up to promote “Red” revolution rather than “Orange”.

Viewed warily by some Russians as a cross between the Soviet-era Konsomol and Germany’s Hitler Youth, ostensibly Nashi is only a movement to promote “positive role models” for young Russians, but those who sign up are fed an aggressively patriotic ideology and anti-Western agenda.

Members go on summer camps where they are urged to procreate to increase the size of the Russian race and to undergo military service to deter America from invading. The group also takes part in noisy — sometimes violent — demonstrations against pro-Western groups.

Last year they were accused of intimidation against the British ambassador, Anthony Brenton, after he attended a conference organised by Other Russia, the anti-Kremlin coalition headed by the former chess champion Garry Kasparov.

For almost five months, Nashi youths picketed the British embassy and Mr Brenton’s residence, heckling him at public speeches. The campaign tailed off only when Mr Brenton, who des­cribed it as harassment “bordering on violence”, lodged a complaint with the Kremlin.

Now, though, Nashi’s influence is expanding into the corridors of power. It is putting up 15 candidates for parliamentary office. None is beyond the mid-20s, but all are high on United Russia’s party list, making them among the first in line for the share of seats.

The move is being viewed with alarm by opposition groups. They see it as an attempt to create a new political class of pro-Kremlin Putin clones, continuing his increasingly authoritarian style of rule. Even more alarmingly, that theory is one thing the Putintni, as they are dubbed, agree with.

“Yes, we do see ourselves as providing the political elite of the future,” said Mr Schlegel. “A lot of the ­people in government are old or not particularly competent and the idea is to have a professional revolution by young, educated and technologically literate people.”


‘We are coming’: Robert Schlegel

Nashi denies it has fascist overtones yet, asked about the group’s harassment of the British ambassador, Mr Schlegel makes no attempt to hide his contempt for Western culture.

“He attended a meeting of people Nashi considers enemies of the country,” he said. “We didn’t attack him, we just want him to apologise. One of our guys had his nose broken by the ambassador’s security: if he’d been a liberal, there’d have been a huge fuss.”

Mr Schlegel’s message that Russians have never had it so good goes down well in Moscow. Voters are enjoying unprecedented prosperity thanks to booming oil prices and, with Mr Putin at the top of its list, United Russia is tipped to win up to 70 per cent of the seats in next Sunday’s polls.

The constitution bars Mr Putin from standing for a third term in March’s presidential elections. But by nominating a tame successor — and possibly using his party’s parliamentary majority to gain the post of prime minister — Mr Putin will effectively remain in charge.

Less enamoured of the status­ quo are Russia’s opposition politicians, who claim that a series of Putin-imposed curbs have reduced the elections to a Soviet-era sham. A new requirement that parties must get at least seven per cent of the vote to have representation in parliament is expected to prevent the pro-European Yabloko party’s 300 candidates holding any seats at all. Instead, the only anti-Putin groups likely to do so are the Communists and the far Right — scarcely the West’s idea of a healthy opposition.

Washington and London’s discomfiture deepened last week as Mr Putin used a rally on Wednesday to rail against them for backing “Orange”- style parties in the election, the credibility of which is already in doubt after a boycott by international monitors over restrictions on the number of observers they can send.

“The election result has been decided already,” said Sergei Mitrokhin, 44, a Moscow city councillor who is standing for the Yabloko party. “The government is just a technicality now — all decisions are being made by Mr Putin, who is taking the country towards dictatorship.”

Mr Putin’s international spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, insists the seven per cent rule is simply to discourage a plethora of tiny parties taking office. He dismisses suggestions that Nashi represents a post-communist version of the old Soviet nomenklatura.

Mr Schlegel, however, sees election to the Duma as only the first step in Nashi’s long march through the institutions. As the party’s application form declares: “We are coming.”

Blackwater guards pumped on steroids and other “judgment-altering substances”

 

CNN | Nov 27, 2007

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A quarter of Blackwater security guards in Iraq use steroids and other “judgment-altering substances,” according to a lawsuit filed by the families of several Iraqis killed or wounded in a Baghdad shooting in September.

Blackwater denies the charges.

The suit, filed Monday in Washington, accuses the company of fostering “a culture of lawlessness” among its guards and says the use of excessive force helps the company preserve a key selling point — the fact that none of its protectees have been killed during the four-year-old war.

“I think there is a whole corporate culture there that essentially rewards the use of excessive force — shooting first, asking questions later,” said Susan Burke, the lead attorney in the case.

The lawsuit accuses Blackwater of war crimes, wrongful death, assault, negligent hiring and emotional distress. The plaintiffs include two wounded survivors of the September 16 shootings around Nusoor Square, in western Baghdad, and the families of five people killed in the incident. Iraqi authorities say the guards killed 17 people in an act of “premeditated murder.”

Blackwater has denied any wrongdoing, arguing its contractors used necessary force to protect a State Department convoy that came under fire from insurgents.

The lawsuit accuses Blackwater of failing to control the use of steroids among its guards — an allegation Burke said came from “people in that community,” and one she said would be backed up as the case progresses.

“The reality is that Blackwater has indeed fired people for steroid use, so they’re on clear notice that there’s steroid use,” Burke said. She said Blackwater has marketed the idea “that their people are kind of tougher and bigger than anybody else,” and has turned a blind eye toward “serious, repeated situations of excessive use of force.”

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell rejected the steroid allegations, saying all company workers face drug tests during their application process and on a quarterly basis while working for the firm.

“Steroids and performance enhancement drugs, both illegal and prescribed, are absolutely in violation of our policy,” Tyrrell told CNN. “Blackwater has very strict policies concerning drug use, and if anyone were known to be using illegal drugs, they would be fired immediately.”

The lawsuit states that the guards involved in the September 16 killings violated orders from their Baghdad supervisors by leaving a secure area where they had dropped off a State Department official under their protection.

The guards opened fire “without provocation,” the suit states, and continued firing even after one of their comrades tried to stop them from shooting.

The lawsuit also accuses the North Carolina-based military contractor of hiring ex-Chilean commandos who were barred from security or military work in their home country after admitting to human rights violations, and of hiring mercenaries — a term the company rejects — from a variety of countries.

The U.S. government has paid the company nearly $1 billion for diplomatic security since the invasion of Iraq, a House committee reported in September.

The Nusoor Square killings spurred Iraqi threats to bar the company from operating in Iraq and a push to lift the legal immunity conferred on contractors by the U.S.-led occupation government in 2004.

The lawsuit does not request a specific amount in damages, but Burke said her clients want both compensation for their own losses and punitive damages against the firm “for having failed to take the reasonable and adequate corporate steps that they should have taken ages ago.”

“Blackwater encourages and fosters a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interest at the expense of innocent human life,” the lawsuit says.

Bible Blair feared being called ‘nutter’

London Times | Nov 25, 2007

by Dipesh Gadher

TONY BLAIR has admitted that his Christianity played a “hugely important” role during his premiership but he was forced to play down his religious conviction for fear of being seen by the public as “a nutter”.

In his most frank television interview about his religious beliefs, Blair confesses he would have found it difficult to do the job of prime minister had he not been able to draw on his faith.

The admission confirms why Alastair Campbell, then Blair’s director of communications, was so wary of the prime minister mentioning religion. “We don’t do God,” he once said.

In a documentary to be broadcast on BBC1 next Sunday, Campbell now says of his former boss: “Well, he does do God – in quite a big way.”

The former spin doctor reveals that Christianity was so important to Blair that “wherever you were in the world on a Sunday you had to find a church”.

In The Blair Years, the former prime minister, who is expected to convert to Roman Catholicism soon, compares the differing attitude to religion in British politics with that in America.

“It’s difficult to talk about religious faith in our political system,” he says. “If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say ‘Yes, that’s fair enough’ and it is something they respond to quite naturally. You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you’re a nutter. They sort of [think] you maybe go off and sit in the corner and commune with the man upstairs and then come back and say, ‘Right, I’ve been told the answer and that’s it’.”

Blair once tersely denied that he prayed with President George W Bush in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, although Bush said his decision to go to war was “a mission from God”.

During next week’s programme, Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, describes Blair as “an almost messianic politician”, and Peter Mandelson, the former Northern Ireland secretary, claims Blair takes a Bible with him everywhere and reads it before going to bed.

Blair says: “The reason that Alastair, my press secretary, has said ‘We don’t do God’ was not because he is opposed to religious faith, but because you always get into trouble talking about it. So, anyway, here we are talking about it.”

He continues: “I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong in having religious conviction – on the contrary, I think it is a strength for people . . . You can’t have a religious faith and it be an insignificant aspect because it’s profound about you and about you as a human being . . . If I am honest about it, yes, of course, it was hugely important.”

Policy aides, however, were keen to hide Blair’s religious fervour. He was told to leave out the phrase “God bless you” at the end of a speech on the eve of hostilities in Iraq, and one aide even went as far as trying to ensure that Blair was not photographed next to a cross during an Easter procession.

In one of his final acts while prime minister, Blair met Pope Benedict XVI and is believed to have told him of his determination to leave the Anglican church and convert to the faith of his wife Cherie.

Earlier this month, The Tablet, a Catholic newspaper, claimed that Blair would be received into his new church “within weeks” in a mass at the private chapel of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. Blair, whose four children are all Catholics, previously attended private masses at Downing Street led by Father Michael Seed, a prominent Westminster priest.

In the BBC documentary, Blair takes credit for the “people’s princess” epithet given to Princess Diana after her death. Until now, the phrase was thought to have been coined by Campbell. But Blair says: “I knew at a moment like that, people wanted it said.”

He also reveals that friends thought he was “completely nuts” for trying to achieve peace in Northern Ireland and admits it was “totally unfair” to sack Mandelson from the cabinet for a second time over the Hinduja passport affair.

“Did he do something in fundamental terms that was wrong?” asks Blair. “No, he didn’t.”

. . .

Related

To many of us he isn’t a nutter but a hypocrite

Ontario parents shunning HPV vaccine for girls

I guess the Nazi eugenicists at Merck figure if you are dumb enough to inject your kids with Gardasil, then you deserve to have your DNA cut out of the gene pool. And if you are smart enough to resist, you and your loved ones will live another day to fight these bastards until they are completely removed from society. They are the disease and we are the cure.

PW

. . .

CanWest News | Nov 22, 2007

Health official blames media for stoking fears of risks

by Charlie Fidelman

MONTREAL – Ontario’s new program to vaccinate against human papillomavirus has had an exceptionally poor start because parents are concerned about the risks, a leading health official said yesterday.

Fewer than 50% of parents — in some areas it’s as low as 28% — have agreed to vaccinate their girls, Dr. Ian Gemmill, the medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, told a conference in Montreal.

“This is a huge disappointment,” said Dr. Gemmill, who blames media coverage — including reports in scientific journals — for stoking unfounded fears of the vaccine.

“There are lessons to be learned from the Ontario experience. You don’t want to undermine the program before you start,” Dr. Gemmill told the conference on public health.

Parents are refusing Gardasil, a newly developed vaccine to prevent HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that is identified as the major cause of cervical cancer.

“It’s not something that typically we’ve seen with any other vaccine program we’ve had,” said Dr. Gemmill, who has served on national and provincial committees on communicable diseases and immunization.

The federal government is making $300-million available to the provinces for HPV vaccination. Quebec is on track for providing the vaccine in a voluntary program to girls age nine and older as of 2008, a provincial health department spokesman confirmed yesterday.

Ontario’s announcement that it will offer a vaccine to girls in Grade 8 came in August, a day after an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argued it is premature to offer the immunizations on a universal basis.

Lead author, McGill University epidemiologist Abby Lippman, warned that the long-term effects of the Gardasil vaccine are not known.

She argued that the disease isn’t an epidemic and regular Pap tests are effective in detecting cervical cancer in early, treatable stages.

Some parents who initially agreed to vaccinate their girls are dropping out of the program, Dr. Gemmill said.

“I’ve had people tell me, ‘I’m not going to get the rest of the doses for my daughter because I’m worried about this,’ ” he said. “We held a news conference and sent parents letters telling then, ‘Don’t be swayed by things that are unreliable.’ ”

Clinical trials for Gardasil were held for six to seven years and involved 10,000 girls, Dr. Gemmill said. It’s considered nearly 100% effective against the two strains of a common sexually transmitted HPV virus that causes 70% of cervical cancers.

Oncologists, gynecologists, obstetricians, public health officials, cancer agencies and the Canadian Paediatric Society have publicly endorsed it.

“What was fast about the vaccine was not the research,” Dr. Gemmill noted. “It was the program. Usually we have to beg and beg, but the money came much faster than what we’re used to in public health for vaccine programs to be implemented.”

Some critics questioned Health Canada’s speedy adoption of Gardasil, saying it followed a massive lobbying campaign by its makers, Merck-Frosst.

A similar vaccine is also made by pharmaceutical company Glaxo-SmithKline.

Venezuelan Students Rally Against Chavez

AP | Nov 27, 207

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Hundreds of students staged a protest in Caracas Tuesday to campaign for a no vote in a referendum scheduled Sunday by President Hugo Chavez.

About 300 students gathered outside the Catholic University Andres Bello in the capital, occupying a major highway that runs through the west of the capital. The four hour protest, which was adorned with placards attacking the referendum, caused huge traffic jams forcing rush-hour drivers to wait it out.

“We students will keep coming out on to the street to demand freedom and democracy,” said Roberto Diaz, a 21-year old law student at the university.

Dozens of police and national guard were brought in to monitor the demonstration which ended Tuesday evening without incident.

Students have been one of the major sources of opposition to Chavez’s referendum.

A man was shot to death Monday after he tried to cross a similar protest, near the city of Valencia. Chavez blamed violent elements within the opposition for the killing. Around 80 people were arrested in the disturbances.

Voters are to decide Dec. 2 whether to approve changes that would let Chavez run for re-election indefinitely, extend presidential terms from six to seven years, and create new types of property to be managed by cooperatives and communities, among others.

Opposition leaders are urging voters to turn out in large numbers for the referendum on the constitutional changes, despite a dearth of international election observers and a general distrust of Venezuela’s electoral agency.

Chavez is seeking to shore up support and is urging backers to approve the 69 constitutional changes if they truly believe in him.

Chávez’s ‘Socialist City’ Pet Project Rises out of the Wilderness

First of Several Grand Projects in Venezuela Reflects Leader’s Monopoly on Big Decisions

Washington Post | Nov 27, 2007

By Juan Forero

CAMINO DE LOS INDIOS, Venezuela — Like most ambitious state projects in oil-rich Venezuela, the new city being built in the thickly wooded mountains here began as a whim of President Hugo Chávez’s.

Flying in his helicopter north of Caracas over forests filled with monkeys and tropical birds, the president suddenly had a eureka moment — he would carve a self-sustaining, self-contained city from the wilderness. Chávez envisioned this as the first of several utopian cities, a bold plan reflecting both Venezuela’s capacity for undertaking ambitious projects and the president’s growing propensity for making all major decisions.

“He told me, ‘I want to see if it’s possible,’ ” recalled Ramón Carrizales, minister of housing. “So we began to explore it, and we found vast tracts that could be utilized.”

Carrizales, a retired army colonel like the president, added, “I think that with the president’s intuition — the president is a man of great intuition — he perceived that you could develop something there, so we started in November of 2006.”

Venezuelans are bracing for more grandiose plans, especially if Chávez’s powers expand under proposed constitutional changes that voters are being asked to approve on Sunday.

The president’s allies control Congress, the Central Bank and every other major institution. And with the price of oil approaching $100 a barrel, Chávez has the economic muscle along with the political might to carry out his biggest dreams.

“Everyone here knows that no one advises Chávez,” said Luis Miquilena, a former interior minister and mentor to Chávez who has since broken with him. “Chávez is the one who decides everything.”

Now finishing his ninth year in office, Chávez has hatched ideas ranging from moving clocks back half an hour to building artificial islands in the Caribbean. To the Bush administration’s consternation, he is also forging political ties with Iran, an alliance that economists say has few practical economic considerations. But the partnership serves as a rebuke to Chávez’s main adversary, the United States, which gave tacit support to a failed 2002 coup against the Venezuelan leader.

Chávez is also accelerating state spending on myriad social programs while proposing measures that critics say are designed to solidify his support among the large masses of poor who form his base. Maintaining such support is essential as Chávez campaigns for a “yes” vote on constitutional changes that would permit indefinite reelection, allow him to appoint allies to head newly created federal territories and increase the president’s influence over the government’s vast oil-generated wealth.

“What he wants to do is build a small model of what a future Venezuela could possibly look like,” said Demetrio Boersner, a former diplomat and left-leaning historian who is critical of Chávez. “He wants undoubtedly to strengthen his influence on the poor people living in the poor quarters of town. He wants to reinforce the belief that many low-income Venezuelans have that he’s on their side, that he’s on the side of the underdog, on the side of the poor.”

The plans for what officials call the “socialist cities” envisioned by Chávez are grand, evoking new cities built in such divergent countries as Brazil and the old Soviet Union. Chávez is relying on Cuban engineering companies and technical advice from Belarus, a former Soviet republic that Carrizales, the housing minister, said has “much experience in agro-industrial cities.”

Carrizales said that the city here in the mountainous area of Camino de los Indios, to be called Caribia — another suggestion by the president — will be the first of several small cities and urbanization projects across the country. Government planners are considering developments in places as far afield as the oil-producing Orinoco Belt in the north, Ciudad Guayana in the east, itself a planned city from the 1960s, and the plains state of Barinas, where Chávez was raised.

In Caribia, the idea is to build scores of four-story apartment blocks that will eventually house 100,000 people. During a reporter’s recent visit here, excavators and earthmovers roared, and construction workers finished the foundations of the first apartment blocks, which are scheduled for completion in the coming weeks. There will also be parks and sports complexes, Carrizales said, as well as schools, hospitals, state-run factories and small fields for crops.

“We’re looking to have a city with a different vision,” Carrizales said. “A city that’s self-sustainable, that respects the environment, that uses clean technologies, that is mostly for use by the people, with lots of walking paths, parks, sports areas, museums and schools within walking distance.”

Government officials and engineers say the plan, at its root, is designed to help people. “This is a social housing project, for people with little money, so it’s very accessible for those types of families,” explained Alfredo Tirado, an engineer overseeing part of the project.

The government plans to move families from a Caracas neighborhood, Federico Quiroz, to Caribia. Federico Quiroz’s cinder-block homes and narrow, winding streets are located in a steep, uneven swath of western Caracas that’s prone to mudslides.

“It’s a good idea because there are many people here who need a place to live,” said Clemente Delgado, 40, a father of three in Federico Quiroz. “We know it’s dangerous here. For me, if they make the offer, I’ll accept.”

Not everyone, though, is so enthused. As hilltops are cleared and trees felled to make space for Caribia, people in the nearby community of La Niebla watch with alarm. The government has said the properties there could be expropriated, though a Housing Ministry official said that is unlikely because Caribia probably won’t extend so far.

Perhaps more worrisome — particularly to urban planners and government opponents — is that the construction is proceeding without much outside input. That has prompted frantic meetings among architects, engineers and urban planners in Caracas who say the government is rushing headstrong into expensive, ill-considered utopian projects.

“The majority of socialist cities that were built in socialist countries failed,” said Maria Josefina Weitz, an urban planner in Caracas. “When you create something by ideological decree, it doesn’t respond to the real needs of people. Cities have their own origin, develop on their own and have their own dynamic.”

Even in Federico Quiroz, the Caracas neighborhood prone to mudslides, many residents said they are hesitant to leave.

Jose Guerrera, 33, a car mechanic, said he’s heard that some residents of Caribia would be expected to work in the fields that are planned to produce food for the city. “I can’t do that, because I don’t know anything about that,” he said, his hands dirty with engine grease. “That’s not my profession.”

Two other residents, Alirio Becerra and Jacinto Gomez, argued on a recent day about the pros and cons of Caribia. But both agreed that they weren’t going to leave Federico Quiroz.

“I don’t agree with it, and many people here don’t agree,” Becerra said. “No one. This is a good neighborhood, and we’re used to it. We’ve been here 40 years.”