The neighborhood is named after the river ("quebrada") that crosses it.
For years, houses have piled haphazardly around the stream in this normally unbuildable area...
Until the tragedy in 1999. Torrential rains brought the river out of its bed, carrying 400 houses in the district for a balance sheet of 11 dead.
200 families have been rehoused upstream of the area, in buildings built on secure land and somewhat copying the organization of the neighborhood with footbridges and corridors connecting the homes. A success, according to the lucky elected officials interviewed.
However, 200 other families waited in vain for the construction of other buildings and ended up, tired of waiting, by reoccupying the unbuildable zones before others did it before them.
In October, the mudslide of a river out of its bed caused several dozen deaths in Tejerias, 60 kilometers from Caracas, after torrential rains. According to the authorities, these were due to climate change and experts believe that risk areas like Catuche are more so today than yesterday.
The "Dream of Catuche" project consists in particular of reclaiming the sewer area with squares and a path, creating an "ecological corridor", reinforcing the banks and prohibiting new constructions, all in order to avoid a new disaster.
"People arrive and occupy a space that should not be. The water can rise at any time (...), take away your house (...), We do not want other families to suffer again" the same drama, explains Mercedes Perez, old of the district, who lived downstream from the "quebrada". Rehoused before the tragedy of 1999, she remembers having "lived in fear of being trapped in the waters".
In particular, she wants the inhabitants to "stop throwing garbage into the river". "Refrigerators and mattresses", according to Mercedes Perez, but also countless plastic bags and packaging, clothing and organic waste are visible.
think in color
"It clogs the sewer and when the waters rise, the river comes out of its bed. That's what we want to avoid".
Garbage collection with trucks is impossible in the maze of houses. There is only one container to deposit them outside the district.
For several years, architecture students from Caracas, supervised by teachers from the National School of Architecture of Paris-La Villette, have been participating in the redevelopment project in consultation with the inhabitants.
"You have to think in color", says the French architect Marc Bourdier to the students gathered on a small plot near the river: "Remember: this is a common space but it is also a place of passage".
"The idea is to propose solutions on the spaces bordering the river so that the common space is used by all and is not invaded again", underlines Florinda Amaya.
A challenge when the pressure to find accommodation is very strong.
Less than 100 meters from the students, Teodosio Ramirez, 62, blowtorch in hand, is building a ladder-staircase for residents that passes above the path along the sewer.
With salvaged material (wood and scrap metal) and cement, they are in the process of adding a floor to their little house. “The house grows like the family,” says Teodosio.
Behind the small building, going up a staircase, appears a large hole in the mountain caused by the rains and the gully. No need to be an expert to understand why the area is unbuildable...
It does not overly move Teodosio who has lived in the neighborhood since 1971 and yet "lost everything on December 14, 1999. My house fell". He rebuilt one nearby.
One of the key elements of the project are "the banks. There is a lot of work to ensure that they are not reoccupied by houses. And work by engineers and botanists to hold them together, even during a new flood. ", explains the architect Claudio Secci, pointing out that the rooting of certain plants strengthens the terrain.
"(the river) must be a source of wealth for us", enthuses Mercedes, citing the fruits and vegetables growing along the banks: "avocados, lemons, grapefruits, yams, peppers...".
"We want to be able to walk on the green path without dirtying our shoes. We want to live in a healthy and beautiful place", she exclaims: "We want a clean river to fish for trout!".