Photo: Chronicle

Chavismo keeps stunning the world and making headlines with its inefficiency. Stephen Gibbs just published a piece for The Economist about the collapse of the water service in Venezuela:

“Venezuela is an oil-rich country that cannot pay for food and medicines. Now its autocratic regime is showing that it can create shortages even when nature provides abundance. ‘I’ve forgotten what it is like to bathe in running water,’ says Soledad Rodríguez, a graphic designer.”

I found this piece very relatable. I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t had running water in my house while it’s raining outside. Gibbs didn’t cover Ciudad Guayana, so let me add some extra info: My city is literally split by a freaking river and the taps are dry.

And there’s no excuse this time, no Niño to blame. Chavismo’s inefficiency is breaking it’s own records. I asked Stephen if he’d seen anything like it and, to my surprise, he has… after living in Cuba for five years:

“People just get used to it, it becomes the new normal, and you see it here (…) It happens slowly enough so people don’t realize how things are deteriorating, and celebrate the arrival of a water truck, rather than see it as a symptom of a system (water supply) that’s not working.”

And that’s the thing, how do you not adapt? How do you block that relief inside when the water truck comes after a week?

You should read the whole article here. They’ve got testimonies, interviews from ex workers at Hidrocapital, and they blame Chávez for good measure, which is always cool.

(By the way, remember when we made the headlines for good things? Me neither.)

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

43 COMMENTS

  1. “(By the way, remember when we made the headlines for good things? Me neither.)”

    That’s because as long as the cubans and their chabizta lackeys continue to rule Venezuela there won’t ever be any good news about the country.

  2. There was an article which I cannot find anymore, I believe in the NYT, that reported that water has not returned to Petare in MONTHS. So the lady they covered would carry 2 five gallons containers of water from her job as a maid to her rancho every day. Moreover, the lady said that because of the lack of water people do not use toilets anymore, instead they use bags and newspapers and then fling it to the street!

  3. The title should be “How Chavismo Made Everything Run Dry”. It is not just the “water”.Here is a list of a few things “running dry”: Water, food, medical supplies, electricity, paper money, transportation (buses, cars, truck, airlines, metro, etc.), oil, gasoline, and people (just starting the process …). Right now Venezuela is so dry it is starting to resemble the Sahara desert. It appears the only two things not “running dry” are inflation (which keeps running full ahead) and Madro’s ability to actually believe his own line of B.S.

  4. Now, confronted with all of the problems that CC describes on a daily basis, the average Venezuela would still be against privatizing anything (PDVSA, SIDOR, you name it). They are not against big government, they are against this big government. Therein lies the biggest hurdle the country will have to face once this cadre of bandits are kicked out.

    • Kilo – many, or some, yes. But most don’t think in terms of privatizing anything because they don’t think in terms of capitalism, supply and demand, M1, M2, velocity of money, and how competitive private enterprise makes an economy. (Do you care if your groceries are delivered to the supermarket by truck, or by train, or by air freight?) They think in terms of having basic necessities! It is the upper class that is supposed to lead. The “average Venezuelan” (and I know what you mean) will do what he’s told to do. To a major extent, I think, so will you and I.

      The upper class must look at what works, and do that, and tell people to do things that way. Negative biases aside, does the average anyone in the world envy developed countries like the U.S., Switzerland, Honk Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Chile, Japan and the remaining free market capitalist nations that have not gone the politically correct socialist inclusive [doormat] way? So what makes those countries developed? What makes their population so rich? The upper class must look at that and get rational. Even deep red communist China caught on.

      I’m sure there must be flaws in my brief statement, but I fail to see how there are not major truths in it, as well. Capitalism and free markets bring unbelievable prosperity and functionality. A man has to be willfully blind to not see that.

      • Gringo, you make good points. Actually, I was referring to 2 Union leaders and 3 politicians I heard between yesterday and today that would weasel out of saying that privatization was necessary or simply saying that they would not support it.

        Venezuela is not ready to adopt the necessary changes which is incredulous, given then current state of affairs. Chavismo is Peronismo on steroids.

        • Yes and no. Yes, you have millions who are like “Soy Chavista, no soy Madurista.” They are beyond help…but over they years they have had to get by through “capitalistic behaviors” (mainly bachequero, or buying regulated products and selling on black market)

          As for the decimated middle classes. I am just waiting for the philosophy of “libertariano” to take over. Small government and free markets are the only way to go. Classical liberalism.

          Check out the Guatamalteca Gloria Alverez, she is spot on and rips Socialism for the 21st Century into pieces.

  5. “How Chavismo Makes the Water Taps Run Dry”.

    Without reading another word of this article, I’ll venture to offer a wild, wild guess:

    Galactic Mega-Corruption is the fundamental reason for water shortages. (Much more than any so-called “incompetence” or alleged “ineptitude”. (Ok, perhaps lots of Vandalism from our beloved, “bravo pueblo” too, they’re probably STEALING every copper pipe or even PVC tube they see unattended. )

    Always the same basic reasons for Kleptozuela’s woes. It all boils down to that. Ironically, I’m listening to the awesome Thievery Corporation, nothing to do with the despicable Chavistoide Thievery Corporation, which includes a lot of our dear, innocent “pueblo”, at all levels. Millions of them, culpable, well-deserving of the shithole they helped create and maintain for almost 2 decades. Que la gocen! P’al Guaire a bañarse, buen sabroso!

  6. There we go again.. The author of this article, and the author of the referenced article talking only about : “inefficiency” or “”de-professionalisation” (misspelled, new version of ‘professionalization’, btw, which is the other fundamental reason behing all of Kleptozuela’s woes).

    Will people EVER get it? Chavistas are highly efficient THIEVES. Of course they would know how to run the water industry, “el pueblo” did it for years under minimal supervision. Heck, even the Oil or Electric industries were run by Venezuelans to a large extent. It ain’t rocket science. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so many of them left, the qualified, educated, mainly. But by faaaaaaaaaaaaaaar the reason Water and all industries went to hell is because of Massive, pervasive KLEPTOMANIA at all levels in Kleptozuela now. No money for spare parts or maintenance?

    WHY??????

    Se la robaron y se la siguen robando toda. That’s why, not “inefficiency” !!

  7. There we go again.. The author of this article, and the author of the referenced article talking only about : “inefficiency” or “”de-professionalisation” (misspelled, new version of ‘professionalization’, btw, which is the other fundamental reason behind all of Kleptozuela’s woes).

    Will people EVER get it? Chavistas are highly efficient THIEVES. Of course they would know how to run the water industry, “el pueblo” did it for years under minimal supervision. Heck, even the Oil or Electric industries were run by Venezuelans to a large extent. It ain’t rocket science. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so many of them left, the qualified, educated, mainly. But by far the reason Water and all industries went to hell is because of Massive, pervasive KLEPTOMANIA at all levels in Kleptozuela now. No money for spare parts or maintenance?

    WHY?????? Se la robaron y se la siguen robando toda. THEFT. Lack of moral values and proper education. That’s why, not “inefficiency” !! They sure know how to steal, huh?

  8. Think of the water distribution systems like your garden hose. You buy it new, knowing that it will last around five years, and then you will have to buy a new one. Oh, sure it might get a leak that you can patch with some rubber and a pipe clamp. You can squeeze out another couple months, or so, but you know that you had better start looking for a new one.

    In our analogy to the water system, the hose is now fifteen years old, and you have exhausted all the ways you could possibly jury rig it to get one more day of use. Every time you try to use it far more water runs off into the patio then gets to the plants you are trying to water.

    Oh, yeah…. one more thing… You are broke and have no money to buy a new hose. I guess you are going to have to water the plants with a bucket. But there is only one bucket and the entire neighborhood has to share it.

    • Those pipes are in such bad shape they are like colanders. If they left the systems pressurized for any length of time, the escaping water would undermine the streets and collapse them.

      Every street in Venezuela needs to be torn up, all of the utilities replaced, and then rebuilt.

  9. The Venezuelan Midas Touch, everything Chavestia touch it gets converted to shit.

    Of course you need pumps to pump water, pumps need electricity, converters and electronics to regulate flow. Without a reliable source of electricity the electronics fail, the pumps fail and sometimes those failures damage other stuff. Then there are not spare parts or they are just too costly or most likely there is a chavestia sucking blood within the procurement chain. (by the way, let’s not even discuss the sanitation part).

    Blame a lizard or a disgruntled worker (aren’t we all disgruntled at this point?). It does not matter how many soldiers and asshole generals (yes, it is about you mayor general Eddison Ramses Rincon) you put in Hydrocapital or PDVSA they only know how to blame the civilians and to kill them in the most fascist way because they morphed into a tropical mierda army.

    The army does not know how to pump water or oil whatsoever, our army does not even know how to protect the people as the fundamental reason and mandate of which they were created. It is easy to win wars against unarmed people but it ain’t easy to fix a pump that died because there is no power (which by the way is managed by another tropical mierda general), because where in the fucks sake it is said in our laws that the military should be integrated to manage basic services.

    Of course, when the general population is busy searching for food and water, we are not demonstrating. We are just too hungry and now too thirsty to get into the task of burning down chavismo. Mix all that with our army kidnapping the country at gun point, our clueless opposition and this god damn culture of blaming someone else for our own makings (yes it is with you Falson and Memin) and you get 2018 Venezuela. Perhaps we are not just hungry or thirsty enough…

  10. I am wondering how much treatment the water is receiving when it does come on. If no money is being spent on water distribution systems then I suspect that minimum water treatment standards are not being maintained either. But I guess that if the tap is dry then it’s a moot point.

  11. I bought my house here 7 years ago and not a drop of water has ever flowed through my pipes so I’ve been paying cistern trucks to fill my personal cisterns which have a capacity of 50,000 litres, enough to keep me in water for about 6 months if we are careful. I even had the water company come in and open another take off in the street behind me which supposedly had water. It was supposed to be a sure thing but just before it was finished the neighbours informed me that water had stopped coming through that main line as well! There are so many abandoned take offs as well where people leave the main pipe open to outside water flow and everyone here has septic holes where the toilets drain into the water table. The level of water here at the beach is less than a meter down and the water mains are well below that level so you can imagine what happens when the water mains have no water in them which is almost all the time…they fill with sewage and when the town rarely pumps, the first water that comes pouring into your cistern is contaminated, especially when it rains. Roy is right, infrastructure on ALL levels is worn out and the investment needed to replace EVERYTHING is astronomical. The only up side I can see is that it WOULD create a whole shitload of employment.
    The other side of the coin is that nobody pays for anything here. Electricity, cooking gas, gasoline and diesel fuel, cable t.v, internet and telephone, cellular service, water, EVERYTHING is either happily stolen or so price controlled that it may as well be free. No one on my block pays for electricity or water or cable, they just steal it. That’s right, they climb the post and hook in, thats how it’s done…totally normal, everybody is doing it. I’ve been living in this wonderland since Chavez came and if it weren’t for my frequent trips back home I probably would have forgotten what it was like to live normally in the first world where everything actually works!
    So you could fix everything, thats the easy part even though someone has to come up with a shitload of money to put everything new in place, but then what? Is the pueblo going to start paying for all these services what they actually cost so things can be maintained, so that the investment can be recovered? I don’t know, everyone is too used to free shit. And yeah people are afraid of political change because they are very clear that it means losing this happy go lucky free life. It would mean actually having to work hard for a living, and produce. Something I just don’t see in this new generation of Venezuelans. In fact the newest phenomenon here are these little gangs of 15-17 year olds who are running around causing havoc, breaking into peoples homes beating everyone up and pointing guns and knives at their children while stealing their food and their phones and anything else that can be sold quickly. They are all hard core, tattooed, gang banging little punks who beat the shit out of you in front of your children when they are house breaking but when the police get lucky and catch a few, they turn into sniveling, pathetic little cry babies that “never meant to hurt anyone they were just hungry!” And their moms (no dads in sight) are outside the police station demanding that their poor underaged babies be released and poof a few days later, there they are, back out on the street, a little wiser, reeking havoc again. Rinse and repeat. Fuck where do you start? I imagine those same moms booting those little fuckers out on the street and telling them to go find something to eat, no matter what they have to do. And your lousy asshole of a father isn’t around helping me feed you so get your act together. Its like Venezuelans are just now waking up with some stomach pains and when we take a look inside we realise we are FUCKING FULL of cancer. Its been collectivly eating us for 20 years now and we were all to busy swiping Credit Cards and taking cheap flights all around the world to notice it.

    • I heard a similar story from one of the uncles (by marriage) about a year ago when the last non-Chavista relative finally got out of Venezuela, and I thought it was just another drunken rant. (It was, but now it seems it was closer to the truth. In vino, veritas?)

      • @ Guapo…just because uncle was drunk dosent mean he was exaggerating or lying! Lol….the same veritas can be found in a good bottle of tequila you know!

        • Well, if you knew Uncle Roberto… this guy’s middle name is raconteur. Very funny guy though… he used to tell my young kids that he was a former astronaut, vice president of IBM, CIA assassin and competitive body builder who trained Arnold Schwarzenegger. (he is pushing 300#)

          Good luck to everyone in VZ right now. There is a certain peace of mind knowing that my extended family is out, but there are a lot of good people still left behind suffering. We were paying an old guy to watch our properties (we have since given them to him) but we haven’t heard from him in 6 months, and we are just sick about it. I hope that he has sold the properties and left.

  12. @ Marc, thanks for your post. It’s always interesting when someone posts a message about life at street level rather than the view from 30,000 feet. It is very illuminating for outsiders like me and helps give a better sense of what daily life is like for the average citizen. Thanks again and I hope you will share more when you have time.

  13. That’s why it is shitty when a careless editor accidentally deletes posts. We are all minds coming together and these are the minutes of our meetings. Like we’re reporters on the street and the editor accidentally erased my video tape. It’s half assed scary to report anything cause you never know who is listening and what might happen. Who knows maybe it’s a good thing that shit got erased considering the troll attention that particular blog was receiving

  14. Yep and as the regime increasingly tightens it’s stranglehold on the citizens I am sure you will have to exercise more and more discretion about what you feel you can post publicly without bringing an unfriendly knock at your door. That really sucks!!!

  15. @ MRubio…guilty as charged. Lol. You will have to forgive my ignorance of water quality standards or the lack there of in Venezuela. That’s why I find it so interesting when people like yourself, Marc and others share about the details of daily life in Venezuela nowadays. I find the street level view far more interesting than the aerial view.

    • Don’t sweat it Tom. Maturin actually has (or had) a water treatment facility that was built when I first lived there back in the late 90’s. Its main function was to purify water taken from the Rio Guarapici (sp?) and I always assumed that it also had some “treatment” function added.

      Forget the year now, perhaps 2012, but one famous day in February, all the Jusepin Plant employees were bused to Caracas for a march in support of Chavez. As luck would have it, a main oil line burst and thousands (no one will ever know how many) barrels of heavy oil drained into the nearby Rio Guarapici……then headed for Maturin creating an environmental disaster. A few months later, the main water line from the mountains above Mundo Nuevo was destroyed in a major downpour so all water was cut off to Maturin. The city was in a world of hurt.

      El Gato Briceno, governor of Monagas at the time, was already crossways with chavismo at the time for other reasons and he shut down the plant before the oil spill reached it. I actually sold a lot of bales of hay to a guy who then sold them to PDVSA to help with the cleanup.

      Anyway, the chavistas were really feeling the heat from the locals, 600,000 of them, because of the lack of water and lack of information about the environmental damages, and once most of the oil have been cleaned up, they (Chavez) demanded that the plant begin functioning again. El Gato refused saying there was still too much oil in the treated water and his job was to protect the citizens of Monagas. He was correct based on lab analyses. In the end, Chavez won, the plant was started up again, and Maturin began drinking and cooking with water contaminated with heavy oil residue. What’s a few hundred cases of cancer in the grand scheme of things, right?

      Not long after that, El Gato fled the country with millions of dollars for the Dominican Republic.

      Venezuela. A love story.

  16. HO – LY FUCK! Really Rubio? Jesus that’s bad. Nothing here surprises me anymore. I am this close to throwing in the towel and abandoning the last 20 years of my hard work. I have to think about my children you know. Sad part is the government already released a statement about how any houses abandoned here will be donated expropriated to er pueblo. And there are lots of them. I know about 5 houses in this area owners are selling for less than $500. As they say, when there is blood in the streets, invest. I just don’t have the heart.

      • Marc & MRubio….if hard line communism is the eventual goal of the regime then probably the whole notion of private property may eventually disappear barring intervention of some sort.

  17. Rubio I want to extend to you the same invitation i extended to ulamog. I think we should hook up and chat and exchange.ideas. Pool resources etc. I think the time has come that we organize because we have been collectively fucked for a while now and it’s time we dummy up. I invite you to come spend a weekend with me. We should talk.

  18. People take for granted that a whole bunch of entrepeneurs is ready and able or has the resources to replace awful publicly managed activities or services with well run private ones having regard to the profits to be made ……well …DO wake up to the fact that such entrepeneurs are not there in the numbers or with the wherewhital or ability to transform Venezuela into a business wonderland…….., not that they are not needed nor that if we had them things would be functionning decently nor that there are some people who can play the role or at least attempt it , its just that human capital isnt that abundant in every country and culture, the US assumption is that people are natural born competent capitalists because thats true of the US and other advanced cultures , is not necessarily the case everywhere ……, moreover it takes a lot of investment capital in todays world to make things work , to build competent businesses , it takes a lot of accummulated expertise but if thats missing even if you have isolated cases of entrepenurally gifted people the kind of investment and expertise needed for the most part must come from abroad and they are not always willing to go into a ruined country and take up the burden and risk of trying to create a business in such an economic desert……..in such swamp…….!! If you want to create a bustling working market economy you are going to have to work with local elites and encourage big time international businesses to come to the country , even if we had a regime ideology totally aligned to the protection and promotion of private business , it might yet not be enough ….!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here