Corpoelec interventions: is it getting better, or do you feel the same?

BltNj6LIYAAle8j.jpg largeLast Holy Saturday was not “glorious” at all for people in several parts of the country, as electrical blackouts affected their holiday. In the states of Mérida, Táchira and Zulia the problem continued over the weekend.

While parts of North Maracaibo were left in the dark on Easter Sunday night, the situation in the Andes was critical. The opposition mayor of Mérida, Carlos Garcia, was livid that parts of the city were left without power for 24 hours, and called out CORPOELEC as responsible. The state-owned generator in turn put the blame on a faulty transmission tower. Days later, the blackouts keep on going.

The reality on the ground stands in sharp contrast with the sheer bravado officials are recently displaying. Earlier in the week, CORPOELEC’s major projects director Wilfredo Morales was in Maracaibo souding pretty confident about the current state of our national powergrid. In his own words, “…the (electrical) system has been taken care of and it’s well-balanced in order to provide a better service…”.

Weeks ago, the government formally ended the (almost) year-long “intervention” of the National Electric Corporation, and gave full reins to Electricity Minister Jesse Chacón as chairman of the board. Chacón sounded quite bullish when he said that “…both electrical generation and demand were stabilized last year”. Oh, and by the way, energy prices will go up.

But not everyone inside the electric sector is raving: workers’ unions are not happy that CORPOELEC refuses to enforce judicial decisions. The many promises of raising salaries and improving work conditions have not been kept either. The Executive Secretary of Siprecec (Carabobo State’s Electric Workers Union) Jairo Marín, was way more direct about the whole thing:

The intervention of CORPOELEC didn’t exist for the workers and it didn’t have any effect in the company at all. It was only a measure to replace the president of the corporation at the time…”

“…the only real change was the face of Argenis Chávez for the one of Jesse Chacón.”

Not that Argenis Chávez is having a bad time. He got himself one hell of a promotion. Meanwhile, preventive blackouts are still happening in other parts of the country, including in my neighborhood two days a week. As the situation repeats itself in different parts of the country, the supposed end of a crisis that began years ago seems way premature.

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