It felt like five minutes before the New Year, sans the happiness.

In Maracaibo, the only thing people could talk about was that the next day, Monday the 25th, would be the first day of scheduled four-hour rolling blackouts. The air in this sweltering 40-plus-degree city felt as thick as molasses. As if inside a pressure cooker, you just knew something was about to blow.

Starting at around 3 am that day, something literally blew. The lights began to go out. It was raining. If you were lucky enough to still have electricity, you were awake anyway, praying that your appliances would make it through the night. But in the distance, power transformers were heard popping. Some people lost their power for almost half a day. Nobody got much sleep that night.

After all the planning forced upon us by Corpoelec’s schedules, it turned out that some people did not lose power at all. After three days, there are places where nothing seems to be happening. Places such as Tierra Negra remain calm, and 72nd Street – one of the city’s main commercial thoroughfares – is full of traffic, as usual. Some businesses have not opened due to lack of power, but in that area, they are the exception.

Yet in other areas, rage is boiling over. There are tree trunks in the middle of the street, a déja-vu of the 2014 opposition protests. All over town, people are banging pots and pans in protest. At least 20 main roads have been blocked by tires, tree trunks, or garbage. Twenty-four stores have been looted, and another 49 have been attacked in one way or another. One hundred people have been detained, according to official figures. Parts of the city are now militarized.

Imagen de Juan Nagel
Lines of people channeling their rage by signing forms to recall Maduro.

Patience is running thin in Venezuela’s second-largest city. As the full extent of Maduro’s power-rationing measures sinks in, expect angry maracuchos to make their voices heard.

Just don’t blame it on the heat.

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Licensed in print journalism with a Masters in communication science. She's passionate about beautiful words that become poetry and not so beautiful ones that become headlines. Strong believer that we should be the change we want to see in the world.

24 COMMENTS

    • wow…to think that this scenario would have never even been probable and now… I could just maybe see such an end to this horrible nightmare happening

    • Reports I hear are that the turbines are already showing vibrations from the lack of pressure. They could shut down much sooner than 16 days.

      • Yes probably. I wonder if anybody is working already in a big scale contingency plan to mitigate such catastrophe in less than 2 weeks away.
        Maduro would need to announce even longer shortages, possibly next week.
        Without electricity you can’t refrigerate food, no AC, no washer and dryer, no tv, computers or cell phones and of course no light. (A fire hazard right there)
        Some people life’s depend on electric devices.
        Even cash registries need electricity to process card purchases.
        Some places like Hospitals normally have backup generators, which run on gasoline, but given the massive scale, gasoline can run out quickly.

        If this doesn’t piss people off, nothing will.
        If I was in Venezuela I would get an electric generator just for the fridge, a propane stove, caned food, etc survivalist style.

  1. i LIVE on C72 with Bella Vista and we have the “programmed” blackouts since Monday….the outage was from 4 to 8 am this morning… so very pleasant way to start the day, hot and sweaty, no lights and no water…..i the government rots in hell.

  2. “…beautiful about passionate words…”–very apropos. As a maracucho recently said, if the Caraquenos had the cojones of the Maracuchos, the Regime would have fallen long ago….

    • Oh come on, there are not cojones here. The thing that happened two days ago here was just robbers taking advantage of the situation, alongside the people’s rage.

      • “…alongside the people’s rage.”–that’s the point, isn’t it, in what some say are many 10’s of disturbios in Maracaibo alone? People are finally starting to react spontaneously from below. The Caracazo started with small-time looting, and reached critical crowd mass very quickly–so far, the Colectivos/GNB have been controlling this in Caracas, as 200 did yesterday in Catia, to disperse an angry crowd complaining about Colectivos following the usual custom of allowing their bachaquero allies to bypass long colas to buy/re-buy scarce price-controlled goods.

  3. Look at the bright side, as it were.. the more blackouts and water shortages, the longer the colas, the harder the Chavista inferno gets, the more pissed-off people will get (Unless, like about 7 Million, they are Enchufados and corrupt in many ways). It might take a few more years for the boiling pot to spill over, you know, Castro-Chavismo knows all about the Boiling-Frog effect. Working perfectly in Cubazuela thus far, after 17 years. And counting.

    • It’s not the frog-soup thing. It’s about people not wanting to get shot in the head by chavista hordes.

      Chávez taught to Venezuela that he was an omnicidal butcher willing to kill millions to keep his grip on power.

      Of course, there’s some eventual breaking point to the people who are already furious and then have to deal with a bunch of assholes who come to whack their heads, shotgun their asses and choke them with tear gas.

      • OF COURSE it has been about the frog-soup classic recipe. Castrismo at it best. Proven recipe. Cook them slow, tighten the noose, slow, lie to the ignorant populace about “socialism”, bribe about 7 Million of them, and then some. Kick out all of us, the 1.5 Professionals, honest, educated people, part of the PLAN.

        Get it?

      • It worked in Cuba for over 55 years, been working perfectly in Cubazuela for 17. Cook’em slowly, repress, lie, pretend it’s “socialism”, and then tighten some more. Slowly, but surely. “El Pueblo” is that dumb, pardon my French. Year, after year, after year.

        • Meh, the 2002 slaughter of protesters was the best intimidation work of chavismo, still after 14 years no one will dare to stand their ground against any red-shirt goon nor protest nor anything, because they know the death circles will come and headshot everything on sight.

          Bullet in the head > Any other Threat

  4. The picture of the protests is really close to my house, that was on monday power went out everywhere but my building since 3Am or so, it stayed out until 5pm i think, i couldn’t make it home to lunch because of the protests.

  5. Seems like the Venezuelan “pueblo”, can handle everything. Minimum monthly salaries worth 3 arepas and a limonada frappe, no problem. (Go figure….) The highest inflation rate on the planet, highest murder rate too. ehhh… they live with it, year, after year, after year, after year. Colas, lack of food items, whatever. Our brave people, somehow…., live with it.

    But oh Lord all mighty, do not shut down the AC in Maracaibo!!!! Don’t cut out the lights in Caracas. Now “el pueblo” can really get pissed off, and finally revolt.

    Apparently there’s plenty of cash around, somehow…., and not that much “hunger”, and people even tolerate eating bad arepas only twice a day and even going to bed hungry. (most probably don’t, somehow…) Pero el aire acondicionado y la luz, la television, la musica, la Polar y la salsa? Con eso no se metan!!

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