The dams of Bolívar state are legendary; true architectural wonders. At one point, nuestro Guri was one of the biggest hydroelectric plants in the world, and an international standard on how to do dams right, damnit. Then socialism came, and like a monkey trying to fix a car with a hammer, they just messed everything up.
Look at this picture:
— Watcher (@Watcher_Ven) August 5, 2017
Recently, the drought brought in by El Niño sent us spiraling into the biggest energy crisis in our history. And now all that rain is coming back with a vengeance to make up for lost time. All it would take to manage this rainfall is a bit of planning: all they had to do was open up the sluice gates to drain out the excess water before the start of rainy season.
They waited until July 6th, when Guri’s levels were already dangerously high, to put up this sorry show.
Opening up all the gates at the same time was risky and unnecessary. Notorious lack of maintenance meant that some of the gates weren’t ready to be used, and they might have suffered some damage because of the Maduro’s circus act: If you think they were kept open after than ridiculous charade touted as a “popular victory,” then you are way behind in your communist thinking. They closed them again. Nobody knows why.
On top of that, the spillways were all opened as well. Ideally, you never have to use them, they’re backup mechanisms for relieving excess water, but all that water gets wasted, since it doesn’t pass through the turbines and doesn’t generate any energy. But, they wanted waterworks for the cameras, so, there you go. The spillways were also closed as soon as this charade was over.
Fast forward to recent weeks. Reservoir water levels were nearing the point of flooding. So they opened the gates and spillways again (at least all of the ones that were working; communism is rough on structures built by previous governments).
Some kilometers downstream on the Caroní river from the embattled Guri complex lies Tocoma. A half-finished dam started by Hugo Chávez’s government in 2002 that was supposed to be finished by 2014. It wasn’t. The dam is one of the Odebrecht-related construction projects, mired in sordid corruption scandals that have yet to be investigated by the National Prosecutor who just got ousted from her post by an illegitimate National Constituent Aseembly. Tocoma is receiving more water pressure than it is prepared to at this moment.
And then further further down from Tocoma, you have my hometown, Ciudad Guayana. We have a dam too, Macagua, it’s by a highway in the middle of the city. When the gates are opened, it is a truly beautiful sight. Chavista media likes to publicize this so we can pretend that nothing bad is happening.
People’s houses are flooding. Correo del Caroní reports more than 2000 families affected by the rising water level so far. Some of them have been offered CLAP bags, and houses that haven’t been constructed yet. Pableysa Ostos recently visited one of those barrios, covered at waist height of water.
These are families that have had to deal with all the other humanitarian crises of Ciudad Guayana: food and medicine shortages, inflation, dengue fever, malaria outbreaks… on top of all of that, their houses flood, and it all could have been easily avoided. Socialism managed to ruin an ambitious project, to say nothing of the countless lives lost, out of sheer incompetence.
People say Maduro is lazy. I have to disagree: he works tirelessly day in and day out to find new and innovative ways to kill us all.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.