Photo: Mario Pérez

Update [July 9th]

Good news! Radio Fe y Alegría 92.1 FM is back on the air.

***

For some, distant, hidden places bring peace, serenity, solitude and relaxation. But in the land of Simón Bolívar, remoteness is a synonym for violations against human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of press and the capacity of free, critical and alternative media outlets to operate without coercion.

Such is the case with Radio Fe y Alegría 92.1 FM, in Tucupita, Delta Amacuro.

One of the 21 stations that currently make up the network owned by Fe y Alegría (an institution founded 63 years ago as a movement for popular education and social promotion), suffered a two-hour long power cut on June, 22. The second day this happened, the body responsible for the electrical service didn’t restore it.

Employees noticed something was off when they realized that the building where the station is located was the only place with no power, while nearby houses and stores were unaffected.

In the land of Simón Bolívar, remoteness is a synonym for violations against human rights.

Tucupita is the capital of Delta Amacuro, one of the smallest, most remote cities in eastern Venezuela. When Fe y Alegría decided to establish a radio station in this region, where the great Orinoco splits into hundreds of streams on its way to the Atlantic Ocean, they did it certain of their vocation to serve the most vulnerable sectors — especially native communities.

Radio Fe y Alegría Tucupita offers a wide range of programs to all Delta Amacuro citizens: information and news, opinion and political, economic and social analysis. The community actively participates via phone calls and instant messaging, since it’s one of the few radio stations where they can get news updates, not just locally, but from all over the country. Tucupita, being relatively small, is one of those towns where everyone knows each other, so the station has a big audience, which makes it an influential media outlet open to attacks by representatives of the regional government, aligned with Nicolás Maduro’s regime.

Francisco “Paco” Pérez, head of Radio Fe y Alegría 92.1 FM, realized there was something fishy about the power cut because there was no rationing in the area and they had no past due bills. He went to the National Electric Corporation’s (CORPOLEC) offices to ask what was truly happening. The answers were vague, but Pérez insisted until he got it: “The orders to cut the service come from the top.”

Paco looks at his hands and counts with his fingers: This is the fifth power cut the station has suffered so far this year. “The same happened last year, the radio was left without power and we went out to catch the CORPOELEC people working on disconnecting the wiring. When we asked them why, they said ‘orders from the top.’”

Tucupita, being relatively small, is one of those towns where everyone knows each other, so the station has a big audience.

Why would the government want to silence Pérez and his people? The healthcare situation is serious in Delta Amacuro, according to the testimonies of patients and health workers who use the radio’s programs to speak up about their ordeals.

The Kapé-Kapé Network of Native Rights is even talking about “genocide” against the Warao population, because there’s no attention for the HIV epidemic, specifically in Bajo Delta. Based on the studies made by a team of specialists from the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC) and UCV’s Biomedicine Institute, Minerva Vitti, journalist and activist for the rights of native communities, cautioned that the area’s population is “under threat of disappearing” if the epidemic isn’t stopped. 9.5% of natives are infected, the highest rate in the world, surpassing even Sub-Saharan Africa, with 5%.

These conclusions, and many more complaints, reach the general public through the station’s news reports, thanks to the work of journalists and community spokespeople covering the situation by land or sea, while the State’s media remains silent. But reality’s stubborn and stands on its own, so Delta Amacuro citizens support the radio, Tucupita’s bridge to the rest of the country.

If the State is truly behind these measures, this is, essentially, a flagrant violation of fundamental rights established in Article 52 of the Constitution: “Communication is free and plural (…) all citizens have the right to timely, reliable and impartial information, without censorship.” This affects the most vulnerable, those who cannot answer back: the inhabitants of Alto Delta and Bajo Delta, places once idyllic and now forcefully disconnected from the world outside the tropical Iron Curtain.

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57 COMMENTS

  1. Holy Rat’s Nest Batman! Look at that mess of wires in the photo. Who said Venezuela doesn’t have infrastructure problems? I’ve seen wiring this bad only in SE Asia in the 60’s and every time my wife attempts to put the Xmas lights on the tree.

    • If you think that’s bad, you haven’t seen the overhead wiring/connections in the barrios around CCS, e. g. the carretera to El Junquito.

  2. “…a flagrant violation of fundamental rights established in Article 52 of the Constitution: “Communication is free and plural … all citizens have the right to timely, reliable and impartial information, without censorship.””

    And which of the twenty-six constitutions in Venezuelan history would that be? The 1999 Chavez constitution? Or the brand-spanking new constitution recently written by the ANC (That last sentence was my attempt at humor).

    Anyways, good article! And it sounds like time for a little community action. Like solar panels, windmills, wet batteries and/or a Honda gen-set. It doesn’t take that much power to run a transmitter.

    • Waste of time and money. They will only “rescind” the license, for “operating off the grid”. Then confiscate anything of value as a fine.

      I’ve made mention of what needs to happen, but I am turning a new leaf, and keeping these opinions to myself.

      Best wishes to Venezuelans.

      • @Guapo….hope you will reconsider your decision to maintain “radio silence”. Your opinions, observations and perspectives are always a welcome addition to the conversations that take place here.

      • Right you are El Guapo. The point of the piece is not to highlight a problem with access to electricity. That’s the regime’s take on it. The point is a problem with dictatorship. If they put in a generator, the generator will be removed for violation of the electrical code, et cetera.

        • The PRECISE point of the piece is the sneaky, underhanded technique the regime is using to censure a station. Obviously, they prefer not to rile the local population. Play their game by staying on the air. Make them show their hand and suffer the backlash.

          “Just putting some solar panels on the roof to do our part to help with the power shortage. And, gosh, we’ve been hearing about a problem with copper theft. Maybe we can form a local committee to help guard against that (wink!).”

      • @Lorenzo…a radio tower on a mountain top along the Colombia- Venezuela border and a 250,000 watt transmitter like the infamous “outlaw X” used in Mexico to broadcast Wolfman Jack and rock and roll to the whole U.S. back in the day! Lol

  3. It’s worse than unconstitutional, it’s genocidal of a defenseless indigenous sub-group of citizens (9.5% HIV, my God!), one which El Galactico frequently referred to as previously-neglected beneficiaries of his Socialist Paradise, whose PSUV “representatives”, often with multi-colored head wraps to show their “authenticity”, are supping well at Govt. soirees in CCS, thank you.

    • I take it we are to add indigenous HIV sufferers to the CC comments section running list of the inherently suspicious that also includes: women, human rights organizations, Canadians, journalists, people from Berkeley, millennials, academics, and elderly pensioners. Did I miss anyone? Oh yes: Venezuelans.

          • Hey, Poeta “My Buddy Rex is Bringing the Hammer Down” Criolla…you’re back. But without your daily identical fascist word salad. My reference to pensioners was indeed, a shout-out to your diatribe against those hungry, elderly – I forget- vermin? – sheep? Vermin sheep?

            Did you hear the reports that Your Buddy Rex was in fact instrumental in the hammer NOT coming down. In his retirement, he’s become an advocate for democracy, reason, and the rule of law. Still your buddy?

      • Might want to reread NET.’s comment, Canuckles. Nothing negatively said nor implied about indigenous HIV sufferers. He was, in fact, defending them.

        • Give Cannuck a break Lorenzo. He’s on the rag because the US Supreme Court will soon be re-directed for decades to come.

          • Not so sure about that Tom. Think of the scene from Psycho when she spun mom around to get a look at her. Ginsburg already looks like that today, so as long as she’s not required to speak, who’d know the difference?

          • Starting to look like our old, original US Constitution will be safe for another generation. Might even role back Roe v. Wade. Wouldn’t, that be fun!

          • Abortion policy needs to be decided by the states individually. I hope that’s where it ultimately ends up.

            The upcoming circus in the Senate should be fun to watch. I predict heads will explode.

  4. Without reading the article or any comments, just from the title, who already opined that the electricity and/or oil shortages are due to “incompetence”? Lack of maintenance? Brain-Drain or lack of ‘savoir-faire’? Yeah, right, they know exactly what they are doing, millions of thieves.. Very competent lack of maintenance. It’s the plan, Stan. To steal some more. It’s simply highly competent THEFT everywhere in Kleptozuela, what’s been going on for decades. They just got better at it.

    Now go ahead and keep blaming it on “incompetence”..

  5. Until there is nothing left to steal, there will be an abundance of news like this to report daily. I don’t understand why there is even any mention of a “Constitution”….c’mon, get real!

  6. Any and everything that makes clear and public the disaster of Chavismo has to be silenced. In my experience, whenever the truth is denied, a price is always paid. The stupidity of Chavismo is that the population will pay that price, not Chavismo itself. Might take a while – look at Cuba. Guess we have to wait till the government is flat broke with no cash income before a big change will ever occur.

    But Pence and Trump are getting restless…

    Excrutiating. Like looking at someone dying drop by drop.

    • Last weekend I read that foreign reserves were down to US $2.5 billion, with PDVSA losing production more rapidly than the population losing weight, I think the regime will be broke by New Years. Not sure how much they are getting from the Arco Mineral but it can not complete with the lost oil revenue.

      • @waltz…you know the infighting over the last scraps of loot must be getting more intense by the day!

        • A real question is when do those dependent on CLAP, after missing multiple deliveries, decide that it is likely that the next one will never arrive.

          What will people do at that point?

          • CLAP boxes arrived here a week or so ago but only for a portion of town, not for everyone.

            It’s critical here. There’s little to eat.

            There’s a single panadaria that’s making bread sporactically and they’re swamped every single day with more people wanting bread than they can produce. They charge one price in cash, about double by transfer. It’s a real clusterfuck from 3 to 5 every afternoon. I quit going because I get so pissed at people cutting in line that I was going to strangle someone.

            We’re down to our last 3 drums of maiz trillado, with a line in the morning and again in the PM to buy. We’re selling only masa, not the maiz trillado, and practically giving it away based on the quoted price of corn on the market…..when you can find it. Our supply should last through the end of this month. After that, they’re SOL.

          • Have you read Jared Diamond’s ‘Collapse’? The final Archeological evidence of the Greenland Viking Settlements reportedly shows that 500 years of viking settlement ended around 1450 when mobs destroyed the carefully-rationed last stores of food and soon thereafter all starved to death.

          • MRubio—as a single male who enjoys cooking and is called the baking expert (naan, pita, biscuits, multiple breads and pizza doughs) by my neighbors I would like to help. You will encounter problems I have never had to deal with. Temperature and humidity are regulated here by a functioning power grid and A/C unit. The heat I believe I could advise around but the humidity would be beyond my experience. Making bread for a family is easy and enjoyable. Not sure if you can get yeast much less keep it alive.

          • Waltz, I am interested in your suggestions. I love to cook as well though I’ve never made bread. And yes, if it’s the yeast that makes the bread rise, it appears it can be a challenge to find. The owner of the panadaria I mentioned lives two doors down. I asked the other day if they would be selling bread that day and he told me they had to shut it down while looking for “levadura”. If he has trouble finding it with his contacts, might be tough for me, though not necessarily impossible.

          • MRubio—my Spanish sucks(enough to get me into or out of trouble), but yes yeast is leavener. There are chemical (baking soda/powder) and natural (yeast). If you could keep a sourdough germ alive after growing it (need reliable refrigeration) that would be your best bet. It wastes a decent amount of flour but you do not have to worry about bunk yeast. Happy to answer any questions I can.

          • Waltz, for the moment, I think our electrical system here is reliable enough to keep sourdough alive. Sometimes we experience daily outages of 2 or 3 hours, but then we may go a few weeks with virtually no outages. We’re supposedly hooked in to PDVSA’s grid, which I guess is still better than most.

            In total we’ve got 6 refrigerator/freezers. Some are for personal use and others for commercial….that’s to say, for the bodega. When the power’s down, some we don’t open at all.

            If the staff of CC reads this, please pass my email addy along to waltz so he and I can communicate directly.

            Thanks!!

  7. Rumor says the Chinese are floating Maduro another loan. How silly are those Chinamen? Who believes one Bolo of that loot will go to anything but the pockets of the military to keep the Chavistas in office.

  8. @MRubio…might want to put back the last drum for yourself and family to last you until the new crop (hopefully) comes in.

    • Good advice Tom, but I can hardly eat the damned things and can’t image how hungry I’d have to be to do so. Though I do have to admit, if I’m really hungry, stuff ’em with enough spicy chorizo, and they’re not half-bad. Of course, as my dad would say, stuff a leather boot with enough spicy chorizo and it’s not half-bad.

      We had a guy quote 150,000 bs per kilo for raw corn today but turned him down because he’s looking for cash and there’s just no cash on the streets right now. Once this runs out at the end of the month or early in August, we’ll just move to something else.

      I’ve got my garden roaring right now, chickens laying eggs, and the hogs to arrive mid-week next week so I think I’ll be good. Besides, my woman is a mover and shaker. She finds product.

      • MR, hogs are a top item for “choros” to steal; a friend/family are getting out of the business, once managing several thousand, due to hyper-inflationary feed costs, sales price controls, theft. Maybe you can cut their vocal chords/keep them in your bathroom(s), a la Cubana?

        • Net, the hogs are going to be here at the house, though that certainly doesn’t mean they’re beyond getting stolen. Fortunately we’ve got high walls all around the place and a pack of yapping dogs on patrol at night. Since our dogs have been doing their jobs, we’ve not had a single incident of anyone entering our property to steal.

          For part of their feed I’ve stored a number of drums of dried nepe from the process of trillando the corn to make masa. We’re also freezing the water that comes off the boiling of the corn when we make masa…..it’s thick, bright yellow, and actually looks like corn soup. Smells great too! I plan to mix a bit of nepe with commercial feed and then wet it down with the corn water.

          I raised hogs commercially for a while and yeah, I can imagine that today it’s not a viable business with the cost of feed going up weekly, plus all the other problems you mention. In this case though, we’re in no rush for the hogs to fill out and I plan to buy most of the feed I need in one single purchase. As with the nepe, I’ll store it in drums and empty them as needed.

  9. I’m with ElGuapo, but I’ll go one step further.

    Aside from MRubio and SOME of my family members there, I no longer give a shit. The fat lady has sung. It’s all over.

    And the REST of my family members, the Chavistas, they could fucking starve to death or die of dengue for all I care. They deserve it.

  10. MRubio—CC staff has my permission to share my information with you as well. Hopefully I will then be able to get ahold of commetor John and I will pay to get you the yeast and wheat flour to create your own sourdough starter. If you need it I will also pay to have a Dutch oven sent if you will receive it. Not to make your mouth water but check out Jim Leahey’s No Knead Bread, that is where I started.

      • Waltz, thanks for asking about the kids. Crystal is back home after her last surgery and Valeria is totally cured, thank God. Crystal’s parents are working as rapidly as possible to process the paperwork for her emmigration to Spain.

        And speaking of John and the good work that he’s doing to help Venezuelans in need, Crystal’s mom started an organization to help Venezuelan parents with children who are in urgent need of medical care and can’t find nor afford the medications they need. It’s amazing the success she’s had finding the medications and getting them into the right hands. She told me the other night that it’s become almost a full-time job but the most rewarding of her life. She’s got a website or a Go-Fund-Me page I believe and if anyone’s interested, I can link it……once I know where it is. LOL

        Finally waltz, I’ll check out the No Knead Bread site. You’ve got me fired up my friend!

        • MR
          I am upstate for a while but most of my time will be in Rochester. My friend that had the cancer surgery has been readmitted with a staph infection and pneumonia. Things are very serious.
          I sent you an e-mail yesterday. Maria e-mailed me an invoice for shipping so I am assuming the packages went to Caracas yesterday. Anyone that you want to have my contact details is fine with me, so CC you have my permission to provide contact info.
          I sent you and Vicky something made from my garden. You’ll just have to wait to find out.
          The pills marked Paricalcitrol are for Crystal. You may want to retain some antibiotics for her or have her mother take them. There are many other items also. I did obtain 2 Epi-Pens for you to have in case of an emergency allergic reaction.
          Many more packages of open pollinated seeds also.
          I will send another shipment in about 2 weeks (as soon as I am sure you have this one in your possession) with refills for Crystal and more antibiotics.
          Waltz, Using Amazon and Walmart (2 day free shipping) to send items to the shipper in Miami, saves a lot of money. I have to send parcels from my home because of the prescription medicines that I include. For other things having them sent to Miami cuts shipping costs in half.
          Airfreight is much more reliable than sending by sea. The customs delays by sea are running well over one month with a lot of theft. Airfreight is getting through customs much quicker (about one week) and so far no losses.
          I’ll be glad to help any way that I can.

          • John, I don’t think I mentioned it in my comments above, but the effort you’re undertaking to help others here in Venezuela is what inspired Crystal’s mom to do the same for those with sick children.

            We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

            BTW, speaking of the seed packets, we’ve had a number of those who accepted seed come by with product. The carrots they’re growing are amazing. We gave them all out unfortunately so that’s one vegetable I don’t have planted in the garden.

            My first batch of radishes grew really well vegetation-wise, but were a bit smallish on the radish size, though tasty. I gave them a full six weeks and then harvested the whole bunch. In the interm I planted four more rows, 2 rows one week, 2 more rows two weeks later. They germinated well, started growing well, and then one day just started looking pathetic and within a few days died….all of them. I didn’t do anything different than before though for this batch the rainy season had started. I’m thinking maybe there’s a fungus among us.

            Growing well in the big garden right now is okra, several varieties of green beans, lechosa, platanos, and both sweet banana peppers and anaheim peppers. I’ve also got a number of drums cut in half and am producing dill, collards, swiss chard, brocolli, cilantro, and basil. The dill I plan to use to pickle my okra.

          • Hi MR
            I’ll try to include some carrot seeds for you in the next shipment. I haven’t gotten sorted with the ones that should grow in your climate. This may be a good way to test them. I wish I knew what variety Crosman’s sent, I could see if they could help me buy it in bulk.
            I have looked for copper sulfate at the farm supply to use for an anti-fungal. No luck. Maybe Amazon. That does sound like a fungus. Especially with different aged plants all being affected at the same time. In the fall I always roto till the leaves from the maple trees into the garden. Some experts say not to do it because of fungi being spread. The organic matter helps with my clay soil and I think the below zero weather kills off any fungus. That is the only other thing I can think of besides it being the rainy season that may carry fungus over.
            I did send you some more radish seeds. They are heritage seeds. If you let a few go to seed, you should be able to continue to propagate your own.
            I think that is incredible that Crystal’s mother is working to help other families with all of the demands on her time. She must be quite a lady.
            You are quite welcome my friend. I wish that I could do more.
            I’m looking forward to you getting this next package. Besides the medicines and necessities, your meals should start tasting a lot better when you get the spices. Vicky should call you or Crystal’s mother this week once things are delivered to her.
            When you talk to Crystal’s mother, can you ask whether Crystal liked the protein supplement? Her mom said that she didn’t like chocolate. I sent one that is French Vanilla flavored. If she likes it, I will order more and have it sent to Miami. When I order more protein supplement, I will also order the sprouting beans. Both of those items will come from Amazon and will be together in the shipment.
            All of my best to you and yours.

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