Photo: retrieved

In Zulia State, power outages have prompted the collapse of many services, leaving damaged home appliances, economic losses for shop owners and even the death of elderly citizens due to high temperatures. Communications and phone services have also declined, affecting human and professional relations. For journalists, reporting the news isn’t simple in this context.

Venezuela has three mobile service providers: Movistar, Digitell and, Movilnet, a provider nationalized by the government of Venezuela and, coincidentally, the one that offers the worst service.

For journalists, reporting the news isn’t simple in this context.

Previously, the media enjoyed an immediacy that’s now in ruins due to terrible phone services. Media outlets in the region have been severely affected by electrical failures and by robberies of wires and antennas. Commonly, media outlets and websites handle important news reports through WhatsApp. Due to poor signal, journalists can’t access this tool to do their work. Many sectors of the city don’t have CANTV internet (the cheapest and farthest-reaching service in the country) and in many cases, loading a page takes longer than reading its contents.

Landlines aren’t safe from the communicational decay either: many communities in Maracaibo have been isolated for over a year, when the systematic robbery of CANTV cables started, since they can be sold at steep prices in the black market.

Many communities in Maracaibo have been isolated for over a year.

Radio Fe y Alegría Maracaibo is one of the many victims. This news outlet mostly works through phone call reports, but they haven’t had phone service since May 2017. In March this year, they managed to replace the wiring, but only for a week before it was stolen again. One of its journalists, Katherine De Salvo, says: “We stay in touch with our reporters through phone calls. The information they report is transmitted live on the radio. 80% of those calls fail, so real-time reports are lost. This violates the right to information.”

Jorge Fernández, former network director for the digital platform Versión Final, says that his printed outlet takes a lot of internet data, so the international company Totalcom provided them with satellite internet service for mobile devices and computers. But in early 2018, the web page started experiencing malfunctions.

“We reported it to the company but they claimed that it isn’t a technical issue, but other kind of problem: an information blackout. We had to migrate to another internet service provider. We chose Movistar, but far from being a solution, everything got worse. The service was so slow that it was useless to maintain a platform based on updating information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The information blackout, theft of optical fiber, coupled with power outages, led us to a technical shutdown. We lost both constancy and immediate access to news.”

Fernández says that there’s almost no digital journalism left in Venezuela due to internet and phone signal difficulties: “We couldn’t guarantee ready access to news, so we decided to do investigative journalism rich in analysis for the page instead.”

There’s also the case of independent journalists, who make a living maintaining and updating social media or web pages. Juan Machado says: “Internet cables near my home were stolen some time ago, so whenever I have to send articles from my laptop, I connect it to my cell phone data. Phone services are so diminished that I have to wait until late at night (when the internet works better) to send them. I must go without sleep for days in order to get money for home.”

There’s almost no digital journalism left in Venezuela due to internet and phone signal difficulties.

As for me, I produce a regional TV show called Zulia en Caliente, that shows the three most relevant news of the day. Before producing them, I must discuss the selection with the show’s host. He uses Movilnet (State-run company) and when I call him, 70 out of 100 words sound as if I was talking with Robocop. At the end of the day, the quality of what we deliver to our audience is poorer.

It’s worth noting that when the explosion in the General Rafael Urdaneta bridge took place on August 10, six days went by before the Movilnet platform was back online. It’s hard to believe that Movilnet used to be a pioneer in the communications industry.

Telecommunication companies have been drowned by the country’s economic crisis. In some opportunities, they’ve been unable to increase their fees because the government doesn’t let them, which makes the service one of the cheapest in Latin America and the world (no plan surpasses dollar prices.) This translates to low wages for the staff and lack of incentives when investing in high-tech equipment, because Venezuela’s ravenous economy devours everyday earnings. In short: telecommunication companies usually work at a loss, according to experts consulted on the issue.

Venezuela shatters any communicational model based on “sender-message-receiver.”

By the way: in order to send this article, I had to wait until late at night so my cell phone’s internet was fast enough, connect it to my laptop and send the text. My editor also had to transcribe information over the phone, due to an unbearable slow internet.

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36 COMMENTS

    • El Pueblo demands socialism. After all, if you can’t bring everyone up, what is more fair than everyone living in misery?

  1. Might be time for Venezuelans to wean themselves from depending on infrastructure and become more self-sufficient, as we all once were.

    Like: A = di, da, B = da, di, di, di, etc. Does “superheterodyne” ring a bell with anyone?

    Oh, yeah. And then there is Beethoven’s Fifth and: di, di, di, da!

  2. Nazaret, thank you for a very well-written/informative article. But, as in a previous CC article on communications in Maracaibo–have you tried carrier pigeons yet?

  3. I reiterate, when the mobile phone services collapse, that’s when el pueblo will rise up and storm these ‘people’ out of ‘service’!!! The big change won’t come until se queden sin línea

    • UKO, It seems to me that if el pueblo is slowly learning to live without electricity, water, medicine public transportation, etc. then they will also slowly learn to live without cell phones as well. I am sure you have noticed that they are being deprived of these things gradually as if they are being weaned off of modern conveniences one step at a time.

      • Yes But, it’s not until their signal is gone that they’ll rise up…… And I mean completely gone. It’ll be the final straw

        • Not nearly enough. A majority of the Pueblo probably doesn’t have a cell phone, those that do can barely/if at all pay for service. Only mass starvation, probably coming, MAY cause the Pueblo to move–maybe.

        • “Yes But, it’s not until their signal is gone that they’ll rise up…… And I mean completely gone. It’ll be the final straw”

          I said that about beer, but like so many times before, I was wrong.

        • Why?

          The only calls they make are with relatives who left and say, “Asshole! Why don’t you get the fuck OUT already!?” They’re sick of these calls.

          No offense to MRubio, whose attachment to staying I will NEVER understand.

  4. A bit off topic …. but you need to read this article on CNN Money:

    https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/30/news/world/guyana-exxon-oil/index.html

    I cant believe CNN would publish this with out a little fact checking

    “Venezuela struck oil in 1980, but in 1998 the government of Hugo Chávez nationalized the oil industry and began diverting the revenues into social programs. The country failed to reinvest into its oil infrastructure and when oil prices crashed, so did Venezuela’s economy. Now, even basic goods like food and medicine have to be imported. Hyperinflation is soaring and the IMF predicts it’ll hit a rate of 1,000,000% by the end of 2018.”

      • John, package in-hand!!!!! Thanks so much for so many interesting things. I was like a kid at Christmas going through the box.

        Crystal’s mom said that she’s working with a charity group out of the US right now that is supplying her with colostomy bags, so she’s good there. Any kind of growth hormone for children would be a huge help. She named one other product but I couldn’t figure out what it was so she’s going to send the name via PM.

        Again John, thanks for all those goodies to make the food taste better here. Greatly appreciated. And that sauce for the pulled-pork recipe looks really interesting. All I need now are the hogs! LOL Still searching.

        • MR
          You are most welcome.
          I’ll look into the growth hormone. I may need some guidance from Crystal’s Mom.
          The epi-pens are supposed to be stored at room temperature. They are effective for a long time after the expiration date. Good to have in an emergency.
          Vicky’s grandchild is due in November. I intend to get another shipment to her, and include supplies for you and others before then.
          Best of luck to you and the family. I hope this lightens your burden a bit.

    • The author of the article just replied to me: “Thank you for reaching out and letting me know. I’m looking into it now.”

      • I sent him this summary:
        Venezuela’s first commercial oil well (named “Zumaque I”) was drilled in 1914, and by 1939 Venezuela was the world’s leading oil exporter. In 1976 Venezuela nationalized all oil companies in the country, and by 1994 the Venezuelan government realized it had neither the technology nor the money to produce and sell the huge amount of tar-like oil that makes up the vast majority of its reserves. In order to increase oil production Venezuela offered assurances to foreign oil companies to invest the technology and the billions of dollars needed. When Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, the price of oil was under $10 per barrel and increased to over $140 in June 2008. This created a flood of money into Venezuela and emboldened Chavez to renege on the international agreements and take other steps that resulted in decreased oil production. Chavez died in 2013, and his successor has continued the policies that have reduced Venezuela’s oil production from 3.5 million barrels per day in 1998 to around 1 MMBPD at the end of 2018.

    • Well its CNN. Not exactly known for their accuracy in reporting. What matters to CNN is selling copy. They recently ran a story about some poor unfortunate girl who was “medically kidnapped” by the Mayo Clinic… only she wasn’t. But, it made quite a sensation, which sold ad space.

      https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/13/health/mayo-clinic-escape-1-eprise/index.html

      and Mayo’s response

      https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-responds-to-patient-story-published-by-cnn/

      Turns out the young lady in question was the daughter of an obnoxious couple who were “fresh from the trailerpark” (according to staff who took care of her) who couldn’t be dismissed AMA (against medical advice) without her birth fathers consent… vital bits of the story that didn’t play. Mostly because the parents wouldn’t consent to the story if certain “facts” were known.

      What a shame. CNN did such a great job with Iraq War 1. (Peter Arnett, John Holliman and Bernard Shaw) Now they are a farce.

  5. Genocidal Narco-Kleptocracies invariably dislike the internet. Freedom of press ain’t good for drug businesses or for any other of their countless scams. The slower google gets and the less fresh information that goes through, the better for every dictatorship in the 5th world. Klepto-Cubazuela is no exception. That’s how you keep the remaining docile sheep ignorant, clueless, misinformed and doped-up.

  6. Hi Poeta, true. They hate the internet, but they know that all is left in kleptozuela is a bunch of keyboard warriors who dont do shit. They will never organize anything to show that they are the majority. They will never do anything to show they are the 85%. No, they can vent all they want on twitter or whatever and the government can use the internet to track any dissidents.

    When will these worthless c(%ts realize that we need to start organizing by word of mouth and talking face to face. Even in the lines of people looking for the Carnet de Patria, they are majority are opposition bitching about Maduro, doing the walk of shame, and taking it 10 inches in the ass without lube.

    Nevertheless, to the article that was written a week ago or so saying that the more people going for the carnet de patria will lead to a law of diminishing returns. It is true. I hate to say it, but the more of these c*&ts that look for free gas means that the less people who will actually pay world prices and therefore the same suicidal economics continue.

    In Pampatar Margarita, there was a long line, most opposition, everybody bitching, even a power outage, but more of the pathetic worthless pueblo that poeta writes such great poetry about. Same people who lined up for CADIVI. Time to wake up Venezuela.

    If you actually have to go for the Carnet, enter all false information. Very easy. They ask you for twitter feeds and if you have pets. NO SHIT. They ask you for twitter feeds and if you have pets!! Seriously, it is totally pathetic.

    • How many people claim they have rabbits?

      We’ve become so immune to the fucking stupidity of Chavismo that we keep forgetting the dozens of fucking stupid Chavista schemes, like raising rabbits at home to then slaughter and eat them.

      Which the kiddies just LOVE!

      • Having a pet is a luxury. I have a dog and 3 cats. I am lucky I can buy fish heads and spines from local fishermen. Just think of people who live on mainland and there is zero meat, zero fish and dog or cat food is just to expensive to buy. There are millions of abandoned pets in the streets right now in Venezuela. I wish those bleeding heart leftists in el imperio could wrap their minds around this.

        Really, I have no sympathy for starving barrio scum who voted for Chavez. But to see all the abandoned pets in the street is gut wrenching. I will throw them a bone before I will throw a street scum anything (because street scum are a Chavista base of support).

        And to think, the Chavistas are trying to prey upon the pet owners who have nothing because of their failed policies.

        • Really, JudyLynn, I wrote this just for you. I think the leftist supporters of Chavismo are nil right now. Chavismo and socialism del siglo XXI are like the turd in the pool and everybody who is not bat shit crazy is swimming away from this piece of shit.

  7. I researched dial-up internet service providers (ISP) in Venezuela, but there are none left. Does anybody know of any ISP outside Venezuela that could offer a 0800 line for maybe 10 minutes at a time ? You can use e-mail with dial-up and maybe low resolution images (no videos please …)

  8. Moses
    Have you attempted to make an international call from Venezuela?
    I use AT&T in the States. They offer a global calling plan. Making calls into Venezuela is becoming almost impossible. I am having slightly better luck with Caracas than in rural areas. Yesterday, I contacted a friend in a rural area of Venezuela. The call was dropped after about 30 seconds and I have been unable to get through since. Trying to access an international 800 number may prove unreliable at best.
    If you can afford it, satellite internet may be the solution.
    A quick Google search returns numerous providers. A smart phone operating on a satellite service may be the most reasonably priced solution. I have been considering this option to ensure communications with people in the country.
    If you desire to maintain your current phone number for people to contact you, look into Magic Jack. I’m not sure if they accommodate Venezuelan phone numbers. It works great IF you have internet service. A US phone number can be used globally through the service. It is possible that a Venezuelan number can be used also.

    • JOHN, Thanks for your suggestions, I have used recently long distance calls from Venezuela and they have gone through. I read that Magic Jack works over a VOIP connection, which requires data access (by Cable, Cell Phone or ADSL (Cantv ABA)) There are satellite providers, but most look a little shady (publicity looks like data connection offer from the middle of the jungle !)

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