Photo: AP retrieved

It’s staggering that, in Venezuela —one of the 12 countries with the largest fresh water reserves in the world— most of the population doesn’t have access to a drop of water. Instead, many are forced to collect it from mountain springs, bathe under the rain and do things as humiliating as exchanging food for a bucket of water.

Mariana Montilla exchanges black beans and rice for water. She doesn’t have food to spare, but the need to bathe, wash the dishes and cook for the family is colossal.

“We’ve had this issue for a long time, and we can’t pay for water tankers every week. That’s why we’re exchanging food for buckets of water.”

Mariana Montilla exchanges black beans and rice for water.

In Caracas’ low-income neighborhoods, a water tanker costs Bs. 70 million in cash, 23 minimum wages, and families can hardly afford the luxury of paying for it. The Caracas Mayor’s Office, which claims to govern for the poor, doesn’t supply water tankers either.

Montilla lives in Altos de Lídice, La Pastora parish, an intricate area far from the last public transport stop, almost 500 meters uphill. It’s been over four months since she’s been able to regularly wash her family clothes or clean the bathroom. She bathes with a jar just for her armpits and private parts, to avail the 20-liter containers she buys for Bs. 300,000, 10% of today’s minimum wage.

Bs. 1,200,000 are spent each week in those four containers, two buckets for her, and another two for her daughter; “but sometimes we don’t have any money and I give the men who carry the cylinders two kilos of black beans per cylinder, because they already increased the fee.”

Montilla exchanges black beans and rice for water, but there are some who spend the day, with their small children, by the side of a freeway collecting it from mountain springs. Others take empty bottles to their jobs and fill them there, since they can’t pay for a cylinder. Some people profit from the crisis and now they fill buckets from their own filters, without any kind of health regulation. Of course, they charge cheaper than commercial suppliers and ultimately, Caracas inhabitants find it more convenient.

There are some who spend the day, with their small children, by the side of a freeway collecting it from mountain springs.

Now that we’re in the rainy season, despair and thirst are forcing people to fill their tanks with rainwater.

“At least that’s good for cleaning the toilets and the house, because we can’t even buy chlorine for sanitation,” said Moraima Cáceres, from San Martín. Citizens living in the most vulnerable areas are going as far as getting their water from hydrants used by fire brigades.

Mariana sounds tired when she talks, but not just due to water shortage. It’s also transport, power outages, lack of cash, the fact that she doesn’t find medicines. “This neighborhood is horrible, it’s like the wild west, authorities don’t listen to us.”

False promises

Altos de Lídice was left without water because two suction pumps in El Calvario station, 2.3 km away, are out of order. Last May, during Nicolás Maduro’s electoral campaign, the local government offered to buy new ones, but the promise was empty and the company in charge, Hidrocapital, looked the other way.

Montilla and her neighbors are aware that the situation’s due to lack of maintenance and investment in the hydrological company.

We’ve become leaders in shortages and utter collapse of public services.

She remembered how the late Hugo Chávez always said that Venezuela was one of the countries with the largest sweet water reserves in the world, and that he’d turn the country into a super power. And he didn’t lie, because we’ve become leaders in shortages and utter collapse of public services, result of null investment in social programs during his government. Now with Nicolás Maduro, we live a period characterized by intense water rationing, to the point where families may get just 24 hours of running water during an entire week.

And what’s the government’s response to all of this? “It’s a severe drought.

Protesting for water

Cáritas de Venezuela’s latest report, released last month, says that 73% of families —monitored through the Nutrition Surveillance System known as SAMAN— don’t have continuous access to drinking water, and they must frequently resort to untreated drain water to avoid dying of thirst.

Mariana Montilla is part of that statistic, just like the inhabitants of Coche, El Valle, La Candelaria, Catia, La Vega, San José, El Paraíso, Montalbán, Chacao, Baruta and Petare, where some communities haven’t been able to take a decent shower in eight months, thanks to the shortage imposed by the gradual collapse of distribution systems, which haven’t been upgraded in 20 years.

Not even hospitals have a steady supply.

The lack of supply keeps people in the streets. There are up to four simultaneous daily protests in Caracas and, despite people’s demands and the blocked streets, authorities still don’t solve the problem.

Engineer José María de Viana, head of Hidrocapital until 1999, said that the capital must receive 18,000 liters per second, which equals two water tankers with a 9,000 liter capacity each, so that all inhabitants can have water in their homes. However, the city’s getting less than 14,000 liters. If the lack of maintenance continues, it’s clear that the service won’t reach the city’s five million inhabitants.

In fact, not even hospitals have a steady supply and they’ve had to suspend consultations and surgeries due to the lack of water service.

It seems that there won’t be a short-term solution. The government’s bent on causing more trouble, since they’ve come as far as militarizing public filling stations, which many used to survive. This is happening in Caracas, but the story repeats itself in the rest of the country; there’s no water and the liquid that’s still flowing isn’t appropriately treated. People say it’s tainted, smelly and comes with a strange taste, which represents another hazard for the health of Venezuelans.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. I was reading about the massive riots throughout Venezuela due to lack of food, medicine, water and electricity. Thousands of people in the streets demanding accountability.

    No… I didn’t read that. I was being facetious. Because despite the fact that Venezuela has been spiraling down the shitter for the last 19 years, El Pueblo is of the belief that if they just keep their yaps shut, things will get better… tomorrow. After all, doesn’t everyone have to scrounge in the garbage to find food these days? And rolling blackouts… that is normal everywhere, right? Water (non-potable) from trucks, delivered to the local parking lot… everyone does that!

    Until accountability is demanded and there are repercussions, nothing will change for the better.

    • I feel the same way as you, Mr. Guapo, except that el pueblo tasted better not long ago. THEY KNOW the present is a crazy new normal, but they seem to settle for it. I am puzzled.

      Moreover, I hear the nurses are on strike, the teachers are threatening and yet they do not coalesce and work together.

      I get it that people fear the government, they are thugs, but it seems something akin to the concentration camps where a squad of armed men controlled thousands of prisoners.

      “Gloria al bravo pueblo”???? Maybe not so bravo after all.

  2. I spent the day in Cuba last week as part of a Cruise with the wife.. Without bullets and bombs, or your own “Pinochet” you all in Vz are royally screwed.

    In the “Old Square” in Old Havana they is a statue that blew my mind. It’s about 10-12 feet tall, and it’s an old rooster with a naked girl on top wearing only a pair of high heels holding a fork. Our tour guide explained that during the special period “The young girls would ride foreigners old cocks to eat”.. This was said as if it’s normal, or understandable or simply just accepted.

    https://media5.trover.com/T/55672593e9ae421b9500e686/fixedw_large_4x.jpg

    The Cubans we met were very nice, and seemed to not even understand what they were missing, like how young girls f’ing older guys for food is a complete shame. You all are twenty years in and already no young person in VZ may know what it’s like to go to a fully stocked supermarket or have a functioning economy.

    I will say this, Castro, Chavez and Maduro have been great for South Florida Real Estate Values.

    • True, 18 years in already and the majority Venezuelans, now born in Revolution don’t know how much better things could/should be. Young Venezuelan girls, however, are emigrating to ride elsewhere, since Venezuelan currency/salaries/wherewithal is a pittance, and old tourist “cocks” aren’t visiting the Country for fear of having them cut off, figuratively, if not literally.

    • I know several Cuban expats, and most are very nice and very friendly. I think that when you come from having nothing and now have a world of opportunity at your feet, you really appreciate it. (this is a worldwide phenomenon, IMHO)

      Compare and contrast that to people who have had every opportunity to succeed, and have only squandered those opportunities… these people are perpetually bitter and angry at some unseen boogieman, but they can usually name who that boogieman is… Capitalism, uncaring parent, drunken ex-spouse, cheating girlfriend, Trump/Reagan/Nixon, Illuminati, Portuguese pig farmers, sunrises, etc. etc. Sort of like Chavistas… always someone to blame for their “bad luck”.

      A few years ago*, outside of various Big Box stores, there used to be about 2 dozen illegals hanging around looking for day labor (cash). Invariably, they would get snatched up before 0900 where I lived. These guys worked their asses off. They may not have been the best at what they did, but they did there best and they were grateful. Who you DIDN’T see out there was our countries very own SLACKER CLASS who feels anything other than office work for $30/hour is beneath their dignity. Can’t quit hitting the pipe, or Snapchatting for 10 minutes in order to get a job.

      I am serious as a heart attack when I say that Trump needs to open our borders and let REAL, LEGAL workers in… this can be offset by kicking every lazy indolent f*ck off welfare and SNAP and turning every Section 8 property into market rate apartments. THAT would shake the tree. No more dole money and bennies in a economy that is going BEGGING for unskilled, entry level workers.

      *Can’t find these guys anymore. Most have been snatched up long ago and are working full time, either on the books or off.

      • Couldn’t agree more, ElGuapo. The snowflakes fall all over themselves trying to make nice to the illegals, but suggest a legal, work-permit system and they clam up. I don’t understand it. I guess if Trump and the “Alt-Right” support it, they are automatically against it.

      • Oh, and something else: You should read the U.S. constitution some time. It’s not Trump’s decision whether to open or close the border. It’s Congress’s. Like so many republicans these days you just have wet dreams for a fascist dictator like Mussolini. The U.S. is a liberal republic and you are just a traitor.

          • @Gringo X It isn’t that good a call.

            Since it involves ignoring the context. Particularly what Congress did, and the role of the Executive branch in regards to what Congress does.

        • @Jacques “Oh, and something else: You should read the U.S. constitution some time.”

          I do. Regularly.

          “It’s not Trump’s decision whether to open or close the border. It’s Congress’s.”

          Correct.

          The problem with this is that Congress has already made a number of laws on the matter governing US border policy and naturalization.

          Now it is a matter of ENFORCING them.

          Which falls under the purview of the executive branch.

          You geddit? The legislative branch LEGISLATES matters like whether or not to close a border, or under what circumtances lawful immigration or crossing shall happen.

          The executive branch ENFORCES the decisions of the Legislative.

          Or at least that is how it is supposed to go.

          And it has been accepted law- AS LEGISLATED BY CONGRESS- that the US shall construct boundaries on the US-Mexican border for years.

          Y.E.A.R.S.

          https://www.congress.gov/bill/109th-congress/house-bill/6061/text

          Now, if Congress wants to cut the feet out from under this, IT CAN VOTE TO REPEAL the relevant Law and pass new legislation forbidding such a thing. In the same way it can vote to disband the laws it has passed regarding naturalization, illegal and legal transport, and so on.

          But they haven’t. So unfortunately for you, this is all a distraction.

          ” Like so many republicans these days you just have wet dreams for a fascist dictator like Mussolini. The U.S. is a liberal republic and you are just a traitor.”

          Oh please. Get over yourself.

          I’m an American republican. I’m ALSO Italian-American, from a family tree that was actually GROUND UNDER by Benito Mussolini and his blackshirted thugs. Hence why I have studied Fascism a great deal.

          If Trump were really a Fascist…

          A: Where’s the freaking paramilitary movement? The Combat Fascisti were the *very First Political Organization He Formed* after seceding from the Italian Socialist party.

          B: Where’s the party press? Who is his Virginio Gayda (Do you even know who Gayda was)?

          And so on.

          Oh, and I could add this. Where’s the Socialism?

          Because that is what Fascism is. A nationalist offshoot of Socialism. As Benny the Moose was all too damn clear on if you bother reading his drek, like “The Doctrine of Fascism.” And also the testitmony of those covering his rise to power, like the aptly named “Sawdust Caesar.”

          Trump wasn’t my first pick and I don’t trust him. Heck, I don’t even particularly like him.

          But if you’re going to blather about Fascism regarding the POTUS enforcing immigration law (as passed by the Legislature per the Constitution), you’re going to have to give a notarized example of where the heck you were to complain about Teddy Roosevelt’s administration banning the immigration of all those who so much as *believed* in Polygamy.

          • Fascist economics was a mixed bag of policies; including telling companies where and what to produce or else (e.g. threats to Harley Davidson), curbing free markets (e.g. imposition of tariffs on all kinds of foreign products), import substitution, and a long etc. So yes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… The socialism, we already have in this country: Medicare anyone?

  3. If the US and the rest of the civilized world do not intervene militarily, briefly, Kleptocubazuela is doomed for decades to come. Except that MILLIONS of Kleptozuelan pueblo-people (not all but many) – are complicit crooks and thieves. Many of them living the great life here in Miami, Uruguay, Spain, Peru, Argentina and everywhere. Not all, but many, are guilty of the mess they themselves helped to create, and now help to maintain. Complicit in numerous ways. Millions. Not just the Chavistas.. Ladronzuelos sin educacion. A todo nivel. Not all, but a good chunk of the populace should be blamed. Others are just victims, getting the hell out first chance they get. Eso se jodio, unless the civilized world intervenes.

    • If the CubaVuelans are content to live in squalor, who is to deny them that right? Talk to most of them, and they readily admit to being Chavistas… just not Maduristas.

      I think when the titty runs dry (PdVSA goes tango uniform) the Cubans will quickly tire of the cesspool that Venezuela will become. Then, the FANB can go at it with each other for control of their little fiefdoms.

      • You are forgetting the coke. Venezuela is very strategic for distribution. Probably has always been about that. Everything else was just a bonus.

  4. Lack of real education, galactic corruption, abysmal moral values: the deadly combination that destroyed what was Venezuela long ago.

    Too bad they didn’t let MPJ fix it when it was possible, much like Pinochet fixed Chile: with real education and tough laws. Tough, yes, but look at Chile or Uruguay today. Even Costa Rica or Panama..Mano dura. Leyes. Educacion. Or you get Kleptocubazuelas.

    • MPJ spent 5 years in jail for embezzlement of $200 million, which would be about $2 billion in current dollars. Do knights in shining armor embezzle $2 billion in current dollars? If MPJ was such a knight in shining armor, why did El Finado invite MPJ to his inauguration in 1999?

      • MPJ and only a handful at the top were allowed to steal, the rest went to jail if they didn’t produce large public works on time. Even today the amount of public works/housing/similar produced by MPJ in his short tenure probably exceeds all succeeding Ven. govts. 60 yrs.’ production combined, and he did it with $2 oil (call it $20 today). $2 bill. stolen makes MPJ a poor piker by Chavismo standards, and he was probably invited to HCF’s inauguration due to kinship of military backgrounds, and both having spent time in Venezuelan jails.

        • Yeah everyone in the past stole a mere pitiance compared to this crew, and gave back to the people so they didn’t mind. These guys are grotesque about it.

        • Exactly. Did everyone forget the ridiculous amount of public infrastructure and public works that were built, in LESS than 5 years? When oil was cheap, too. Look it up. It’s mind boggling. The bolivar was almost equal to the dollar and in such a short time most of the stuff you see today was built and/or planned. A vast majority of it. That’s the kind of “thieves” Kleptozuela really needs. Not the millions of thieves that they’ve had ever since the 60’s and have under Chavismo today. In less than 5 years MPJ and his tough guys built way more that all the MUD’s have ever built, including Ad/Copey and Chavismo. MPJ built a lot more than all the lousy, thievery governments COMBINED in the next 60 years. 10 more years of MPJ and Kleptocubazuela would have turned out way better than Chile, Chile had only some copper to work with.. But they were educated, worked hard and were sent to jail by Pinochet’s nazis if they stole.

          That’s how you must treat a messed up bunch of corrupt Indians, like we’ve had in Kleptocubazuela for so long. Not just the Chavistas, mind you. It ain’t pretty, but it works. Heck, even Franco in Spain was a necessary evil. And I say that after my own grand father was jailed and tortured many years, almost killed by Franco’s thugs.

    • @Poeta Criollo Sorry, but I agree with Bol.

      I don’t think MPJ was in a very good position to “fix” this. In general, tyranny begets tyranny. It doesn’t fix it. There may be TIMES where martial law is necessary for a greater good, but even then it is a slippery slope.

      If anything I’d argue MPJ helped pave the way for the rise of Chavismo.

      • Oh no, abysmal lack of real education and galactic corruption paved the way for the previous MUDs (ad/copey – 4 decades) and then Chavismo. Clearly.

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