Listening for the Alien Heartbeat

Factories closed all over Armenia.  Abandoned, overgrown factories:

Armenia - Deserted Factories

As far as the eye can see:

Armenia - Deserted Factories Along Debed Valley Rd

After Chernobyl Armenia closed its own nuclear power plant.  Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union, the debilitating war with Azerbaijan, the blockade by Turkey.  There was no money and no power – and factories closed all over Armenia.  Even the capital Yerevan went dark – for four years people were forced to forage in the mountainside for wood for heating and cooking.

Even now, 18 years later, the rusting infrastructure:

Armenia - Deserted Wheelhouse

and bare hills remain.  A post Soviet industrial landscape:

Armenia - Rolling Hills - Soviet Debris

Mostly these factories have not re-opened, people just live among them.  The white sign says ‘to rent’:

Armenia - Hill with house and old metal building

So why has Armenia not recovered?   A corrupt oligarchy runs the country for itself – Armenia is ranked 105th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index, in the distinguished company of Gambia, Kosovo and Mali.

So World Bank money gets misused, the average wage is $300 and 36% of the population lives below the poverty line – in 2009 $85 / year.  Yes, that is 23c / day.

This type of government beggars not only the present generation, but the next:  youth unemployment is 57% – no.1 in the world – higher even than the miserable West Bank –  despite 99.6% literacy.

So abandoned by their factories, and abandoned by their government, Armenians work their land:

Armenia - boy with sheep

but face a road that this hard-working, well-educated, decent people don’t deserve:

Armenia - abandoned car on lonely road

8 Responses to “Our Factories Deserted Us”

    • alienheartbeat

      Thanks. but it is disappointing, very very disappointing, to see how often the same story gets played out. Things have mostly improved over the last thousand years but in some places not by much.

    • wewerenothing

      Seems obscene to “like” a post when the material is well, not something to be liked. I thought the Caribbean, Latin America were pretty bad when it comes to this kind of thing but all over the world, sadness and destruction.

  1. David Coorey

    I have a colleague who is from Armenia and he states that unfortunately this is depressingly accurate appraisal of his birth country. Beautifully written.

    • alienheartbeat

      of course. a highly educated people and the information economy should lead to the rise of a middle class with more assets and more balanced power structures. But it may take 20 years.


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