Communications Breakdown

One year ago, Alejandro Machado wrote this post about the government’ sudden move to suspend the scheduled hike in telecom fees. Now, it’s deja vu all over again: Telecoms regulator CONATEL ordered private mobile service providers Digitel and Movistar to freeze their price hikes, because customers were livid about the “arbitrary” increase in their services. With inflation in triple digits, and service providers not being allowed to keep up, already scarce data will surely be in even shorter supply soon.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time, after State-owned CANTV had service failures in five states. Even though the government version of events alleged “sabotage,” some people were arrested in Zulia State for plain old thievery.

Robbery of wires isn’t a recent trend, but it’s getting a surge as the economic crisis takes its toll. Take a look at this report by Movistar about robbery of equipments in Carabobo.

The company made a large effort to replace the stolen equipment, and it got taken again. The next day. The icing on the cake? It’s the fourth time this year in that specific location.

Last March, PCWorld en Español published a piece on how the theft of wires in Venezuela is leaving the telecom sector in a tough place, given the scarcity of dollars for importing new supplies.

But the government shifts the blame, using the reliable  “foreign intervention card.” After a series of cyber-attacks to official websites this week, CANTV Chairman Manuel Fernandez said this was an “attack from overseas,” linking it to the wire-cutting “sabotages” he considers “unprecedented.”

Excuses aside, the sad state of our infrastructure only adds to the ferocious informational uncertainty that Venezuelans are mired in, especially when the messaging apps and social networks have all but come to replace traditional news outlets destroyed by the hegemony. What alternatives do we have left, a “Ghost Dog” and courier pigeons? I can think of many reasons why this wouldn’t work in today’s Venezuela.

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