Thirteen conversations about one thing

Pure gold
Pure gold

Being back in Caracas after many months provides a plethora of opportunities for blogging. And while there is much to say about the big issues, curiously I’ve had numerous conversations about … lightbulbs.

The country’s acute scarcity is everywhere, but it’s hard to see if there is no light. And light is definitely missing. Lightbulbs are on everyone’s minds – and not in a good way.

I’ve had conversations with people who can’t find replacement lightbulbs for their home lamps. Half-lit hallways have become the norm in many houses. Lightbulb theft is a common occurrence in places such as restrooms.

Schools needing to replace bulbs in their classrooms are worried about the cost of a halogen bulb – about BsF1,500, roughly three dollars at black market rates, but one fifth of a mínimum wage here. They will have to raise their fees in order to, among many other things, replace lightbulbs. The parents will surely balk.

Neighborhood activists are concerned about the need to replace the lightbulbs in their parks and streets, and about their neighbors not willing to pay for them, never mind finding the darn things. Local government officials complain that they can neither find nor fund replacement bulbs for Venezuela’s dimly lit streets, a catalyst for the country’s asfixiating crime wave.

Toilet paper I was expecting. Shampoo I was prepared for. But lightbulbs seem to be the hot-button item these days. Lightbulbs are one of those things you take for granted until they are gone. Then … you can’t stop talking about them.

A country without lightbulbs. What a perfect metaphor for the dark days that Venezuela is living.

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  1. A variation on an old Soviet era joke:

    “What did Venezuelans use for light before candles? Electricity.”

  2. Going home in 2 months…. the list of presents and requests from family and friends includes Listerine, after shave, a replacement zip, olive oil, notebooks, makeup and belive or not… coffee.

    • Londonderry.

      Except for, MAYBE coffee, probably the better choice is that you give your family the USD that it would cost you to buy those things and they get them here bachaqueadas, Im saying it because probable, at the crazy exchange rate, it would be better for them like that. At least consider it 🙂

    • I have wondered if I could get a night satellite photo of Venezuela from 1999 and a recent one for comparison. Obviously, it wouldn’t look like N. Korea… yet. But, it would be interesting to see if the difference is noticeable.


        You can select a map from 2000 and other from 2012 on the right.

        Still, Venezuela seems to be a lot more illuminated in 2012 than in 2000, just look at Maturin, for example…
        But after receiving $800 billion in oil revenue in the same period this is hardly surprising, isn’t it?

  3. It’s JC’s plan to cut down on electricity usage. But, seriously, what do you expect from a Country with: oil at $48/bbl.; maybe grossing $25bill; spending $30-40 bill. including commissions/ripoffs/corruption; massive indebtedness both in intl./local currencies; maxed-out borrowing of others’ money; future hopes pinned on Faja oil at $65/bbl production cost; a minimum monthly wage currently in the $13 range; an abjectly-ignorant/submissive/submitted D-E 80+% population –you expect common civilized country amenities? Venezuela, because of massive ignorance of its rulers/population, missed the oil bus of the seventies, missed it again in the early 2000’s, and now has missed the train.

  4. blackouts and brownouts are comming because the power grid system is in such poor shape and the amount of electricity which once was available from Guri is fast dissparearing , requiring replacement using the thermoelectric plants which use refinery fuels in large amounts , this makes the financial losses higher because they can bring in much more money if exported abroad . they have to have plans to substitute those refinery fuels for natural gas but that means building at top speed gas pipelines from eastern venezuela and perhaps from the recently opened La perla gas fields offshore Paraguana , quite sure thats a top priority for Pdvsa , the money is very scarce but thats got a sure payout which might even justify using part of the loan money China has promised to furnish the regime. Its not a question of improving things but of preventing them from getting much worse , its a race to avoid catastrophic shortages in electrical supplies . the bulbs they probably have nnot thought about , guess its just one of the hundreds of items which are in the backlist of things to be imported because everything must to towards preparing themselves for paying the international debt service of 6.3 Bln USD payable between cotober and november of this year.!!

    • $$$$$$$$$$ Derwick used plants$$$$$$ alek boyd. : all you need to know about electricity in Kleptozuela.

  5. When in doubt, in Cubazuela you can explain anything with merely 2 criteria:

    1/ Corruption (Massive Theft)
    2/ Under-education (Massive Ignorance)

    This case is no different, what happens when the Chinese, Cubans and CleptoPDVSA strike a deal?

    Lots of Thieves get very rich, and the lights go out.

    But this is nothing, compared to the Derwick UltraGalaticGuisos.,, Just wait for a few more summer storms, get your candles and join Maria Lionza in solemn prayer.

  6. Lightbulb theft!!
    I guess we never knew how good we had it pre- Chavez.
    If it continues this way, these will be the good old days for many people.

  7. The bottom will fall out once the electricity itself goes dead. Hard to say how far off that is, but from what I am hearing per everything breaking down and no spare parts nor yet anyone to install them – well, hell, you wonder how anything keeps running at all…


    • There will still be enough electricity left for the Smartmatic machines to process the extra millions of voters in December (as in the PSUV primaries)….

        • According to JR, in the 33 circuits where the Oppo/PSUV primaries coincided, the PSUV got more than twice the number of votes for their candidates than did the Oppo for their respective candidates, which would give the PSUV 8 of 10 seats in Carabobo, for example–the stage is set, with a smiling Tibi at the table….

          • Many of the opposition people are better off financially than the average chavista. These opps find things like cleaning their houses, cooking or mowing the lawn to be demeaning jobs. Their lives would collapse if they lost their maids, gardner, etc. For them, although many have changed, voting is in the same category. It is something that’s the pueblo’s job. In areas in the east of Caracas the opposition wins not necessarily because they all vote, but because even if only 50% votes, there aren’t enough chavistas to make that much of a difference. I don’t have actual numbers, but from the people I know it seems like no more than 75% of the vote, while chavistas tend to vote in higher numbers (be it for fear or conviction it doesn’t matter — a vote is a vote)

      • By “extra millions”, I really mean “extra” (non-existent)–the PSUV claim 3.1 mill. voted in the PSUV primaries, with just 6m machines working (vs. 40m machines in a national electon for maybe 12 mill. supposedly voting)=a mathematical impossibility, validated by the CNE, with the Oppo estimating some 600-900m PSUV actually voted.

  8. …interesante… no había leído nada sobre esto en los periódicos pero con la combinación twitter+blogs+prensa uno al final termina haciéndose una buena idea de lo que ocurre en el país… gracias una vez más por su trabajo en este blog

  9. I went through a ligthbulb pillgrimage in search for some warm light bulbs for my mom. She had a white fluorescent that flickered in her bedroom and I thought it was horrible, so I decided to get her a nicer one.
    I went to Epa, to Rattan, to every single supermarket and hardware store. They had nothing! I finally found few in a little merchant store.
    This was over two years ago.

  10. Producimos millones y millonas de super-bombillos ahorradores reciclables Bolivarianos semanalemente. Dejen la lloradera, escualidos y sifrinos pelucones de la ultra derecha Mayamera.

    Producto nazional con tecnologia Vietnamita, China y Cubana. Crece fruta fresca donde quiera que los boten. Resuelven el problema del calentamiento del planeta, al igual que resolvieron todo problema electrico en nuestro gran pais. Todo punto de venta de droga goza de su super bombillo inagotable y fertilizante.

    Regalamos 2 super-bombillos rebolusionarios y medio pollo fresco por cada voto Chavezmatic en Diciembre.

    Vietven a votar con los bombillos Vietnamitas!

  11. One “saver bulb”: More than 1200 Bs
    One “normal, non-saver incadescent bulb”: Dunno, less than half of that.
    In any case, the said “saving” of the bulbs is a douche lie, because they won’t ever live their full life, because they’ll get burned thanks to our fabulous cortoelec company.

    Also, the conformists of the sanitary pad thread will arrive to say “then we’ll light ourselves with candles, stop complaining” in 3, 2, 1…


    Un “bombillo ahorrador”: Más de 1200 Bs
    Un “bombillo incandescente no ahorrador”: No recuerdo, menos de la mitad.
    En cualquier caso, el fulano “ahorro” de los bombillo es mentira, porque no vivirán nunca su vida útil completa, debido a que se quemarán gracias a nuestra fabulosa compañía cortoelec.

    Además, llegarán los conformistas del tema de las toallas sanitarias a decir “pos nos iluminaremos con velas, dejen de quejarse” en 3, 2, 1…

    • Yes, because it’s about time to speak about these warm-life destroyers, planet-cremating bombillos; incandescent bulbs are being banned all over the world because they are very inneficient, and altough the saver bulbs are not as harmful to the environment, they still use electricity, and toxic heavy metals to be produced, escalating global warming and contaminating land and sea, so their scarcity is not that bad!!! NOT THAT BAD AT ALL!!! BRING BACK THE CANDLES!!!

      Venezuela is going back to 1600!!! I predict several Greenpeace and UN recognition prizes on the way!

      • Absolutely! Michael Faraday, James Maxwell, Nicola Tesla, and Thomas Edison were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Ban electricity now!

      • The chavista saver bulbs have mercury inside.

        Also, they’re prone to breaking and release the toxic stuff.

        The other good point of using candles is that your electricity bill’s gonna drop a lot! You won’t be paying 1000 Bs to maintain the imbeciles who steal power from the lines, maybe you’ll pay this time like 800 thanks to the still impossible quotas to stay outside the “zona de multa”

        • Why doesn’t a UK channel do a TV show similar to the ‘The 1900 House’ about what’s going on in Venezuela? But instead of going back to 1900’s era, to just show present-day Chavismo! It would be called ‘The 2015 Chavista House’,

          “To make it the 1900 house, all modern elements were removed, including electricity, insulation, indoor toilet, and central heating. Period fixtures such as a ‘copper’ (a large pot used for heating washing clothes over a fire), cast-iron oven and fireplaces were installed.”

          The Chavista one:

          “To make it the ‘2015 Chavista house’, all the present problems were untouched by the channel production, including the the lack of light bulbs, basic staples and spare parts.”

          Chavismo is just absurd.

          • ,To make it the 1900 house, all modern elements were removed, including electricity, insulation, indoor toilet, and central heating. Period fixtures such as a ‘copper’ (a large pot used for heating washing clothes over a fire), cast-iron oven and fireplaces were installed.”

            I am not sure on the precise date- somewhere between 1900-1910 I believe- my grandfather’s father solved the problem not by installing central heating, indoor toilet etc. in their farmhouse, but by constructing a new house with all the amenities. Our family’s photo archives include one of the old house next to the new house.

            I don’t know when electricity was installed, but my uncle told me that rural electrification didn’t occur in his childhood home until 1939- which was about 100 miles from where my grandfather grew up.

  12. The best gift a venezuelan can buy and bring to his family at Venezuela when returning/visiting is a Tesla battery and maybe a solar panel. And i say “maybe” because with our air quality standars, in dense urban areas a solar panel won’t work properly besides our scalding tropical sun.

    Just the battery would be an OMG-gift thanked for life.

    P.D: Si me alcanzan los reales trataré de conseguir una.

    • I am wondering how wind generators might work? Just about every cruising boat in the Caribbean has a wind gen or two plus solar panels.

      Totally green! Venezuela could show the world how it is done!

  13. When you mention “minimum wage”, could you please specify the time period? I understand that you usually mean per month, but in many countries (e.g. the USA, Germany), the minimum wage is specified by the hour, while others it’s per day.

    • That is per month. At the black market rate of exchange, the current monthly minimum wage is now equivalent to less than fifteen dollars. Due to lower labor rates and subsidies on imports, its overall buying power is greater then the same amount in dollars elsewhere, but still people are struggling to survive.

    • “Minimum wage” in Kleptozuela means minimum monthly salary, Before multiple Freebies, Bribes, Tigritos, Segundas, Chanchuyos, Guisos, Rebusques, Izquierdazos, , Enchufes, Palancas y Mordidas.

      All of that, and then some, comprises Minimum Net Income, Tax Free, of course.

    • A minimum monthly wage in Venezuela at the free market rate is not too much more than the minimum hourly rate in the US/Europe.

  14. After tens of millions of dolares fuertes were wasted on that decadent pestilence called “bombillos ahorradores”, where’s the electricity gonna come from if you find your freaking bulb anyway?

    A few Billion were already stolen on the entire used power plants and other putrid electrical infrastructure anyway, the grid is old, messed up and insufficient, about to collapse again, anyway.!/noticias/filtrados-documentos-que-exponen-el-fraude-electrico-venezolano

    • Cualquiel vaina se consigue, chamo. Todo tiene su presio, ponte en contacto con mi gente cerro arrriba


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