Photos: Mario Pérez Chacin 

Testimonies of war survivors carry the desolation and sadness caused by cruel treatments associated with the armed conflict. But in Zulia, we’re living an undeclared war. Everyday life in Maracaibo, the second most important city in the country, is filled with hunger, medicine shortages, the collapse of basic services, and the insecurity caused by common criminals and State security bodies.

“I feed from the scraps that restaurants throw away,” cries Inés, a 70-year-old woman who scavenges the garbage of a famous Chinese restaurant at Maracaibo’s Bella Vista Avenue. “Take a picture of me so this damn government sees that an old woman has to eat garbage.”

“I feed from the scraps that restaurants throw away,” cries Inés, a 70-year-old woman. Photo: Mario Pérez

Inés was with two young women dressed in black and three dogs. “Three days ago, my husband drowned in the Maracaibo Lake, near the Vereda del Lago,” said one of the women, “they say he was fishing and his body was found floating. I have no money to retrieve him, or for the wake. I’ve asked for everyone’s help and nobody can do anything for me. Meanwhile, how am I supposed to take care of my kids? All I have is scraps from restaurants.”

How am I supposed to take care of my kids? All I have is scraps from restaurants.” Photo: Mario Pérez

Santa Lucía is Maracaibo’s second biggest traditional neighborhood, a picturesque area of old houses. But since the underwater electric wire in the Rafael Urdaneta bridge burned down, blackouts and water supply failures have become more frequent.

“I feel I’m in the desert and must walk long distances to find water to bring back home,” said Josué while he transports two water containers in his baby’s stroller.

“I feel I’m in the desert and must walk long distances to find water to bring back home” Photo: Mario Pérez

“It’s been two months since I’ve had running water at home,” said Marlene Nava, a reputed journalist, chronicler and poet in the region, who’s also the secretary of Zulia State’s Academy of History, who has to ask her neighbors for help due to her age.

Marlene told us another dark story that’s increasingly common in Maracaibo neighborhoods: That very day, her neighbor Nerio Castellano was taken by CICPC officers for not having an ID while he was on the rooftop of the journalist’s house helping her repair the damage done by two unknown people who tried to break in the previous night.

“It’s not fair! On top of suffering this tragedy with water, they’re taking away good people in the neighborhood. Nerio’s 50 years old and he makes ends meet by helping the elderly in Santa Lucía. He fixes what he can… and they arrest him? Why don’t they arrest the criminals who tried to break into my house last night?”

Atilio Acurero isn’t quite 70 yet, but he’s laying on a bed in his living room in El Empedrado neighborhood. He broke his waist when he fell in an open sewer he didn’t see because of a scheduled blackout at night.

His younger sister, Marisela Acurero, is taking care of him because the rest of the family left the country and they can’t send any money. “When he fell, it took forever to pull him out. Finally the fire brigade helped, because the police didn’t want to cooperate,” she said, frustrated by the officers’ reaction.

Atilio Acurero broke his waist when he fell in an open sewer he didn’t see because of a scheduled blackout at night. Photo: Mario Pérez

Marisela talks about how difficult it is to take care of a sick person without access to running water. “It’s been a week since I last bathed him. Also, as a result of these six-hour blackouts twice a day, I had to move him to the living room so he could get some fresh air.”

When Atilio broke his waist he was taken to the Noriega Trigo Hospital, located in San Francisco municipality, where Zulia governor Omar Prieto was a mayor for eight years. He waited for nine days to undergo surgery, but in the end he had to be taken back home because the surgery was impossible due to lack of supplies and unavailable operating rooms. The hospital’s authorities and doctors promised they’d locate him for surgery as soon as they could. This was over a month ago.

When did we start to feel the consequences of a non-existent war? Will we survive to tell these stories to our grandchildren?

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48 COMMENTS

    • Yup, and that is the bottom line.

      Good job Mario documenting the war zone. Hopefully the Gochos and Maracuchos start to rise up soon. Last week the Gochos started throwing down guarimbas over the gas situation.

      • Why did Francisco Toro not write this?
        Oh thats right, he does not fu$%ing live here.
        Thank god people like Mario have not run away like scared little children.
        The input that matters here, is from the people that live through this situation, and no one else.

        • Yes. Another good article with real specifics of on-the-street “life”. Part of the problem is reading things like “Genocide in Somalia, 300,000 die.” That’s a number, “300,000”, not a person who was 28 years old and planted a vegetable garden, or fixed a plumbing problem, or whose cow recognized his scent. And it happened in Somalia. (“Where’s that? Is that part of Indonesia? Oh, no, that’s in India, south of the Mediterranean, right? I was in Greece last summer!”)

          The detail of the guy getting arrested for no cedula while he was fixing a neighbor’s roof is not going to make it to Reuters or AP wires. But it’s something I can see happening. They stopped the guy because he was on someone’s roof, and with no cedula, he could have been trying to break in – they don’t know. You never leave home without your cedula. He created an annoyance for them, an irregularity. It helps to keep some money in your wallet, too. Probably won’t be there when you get it back, but don’t complain.

          The only question I have about the article is “broken waist”(?). Was that a broken “instep” that didn’t trranslate, seen bandaged in the photo? “Broken waist” … all I can come up with is either a hernia, or broken spine. With a broken spine at waist level, I don’t see how they managed to get the guy out at all.

          The whole scenario is just unreal. Really unreal. There has always been poverty in Venezuela, people living with one foot in an industrial age and one foot in an indigenous age. But it is really difficult to see this retroceso. I read a piece about a trained and practicing nurse, a nurse who worked in a hospital, who is now over the border in Cucuta making money for her two kids – y bueno – she rationalizes it all.

          Bob Dylan wrote a song “I pity the poor immigrant who wishes he’d stayed home” … I’m wondering what he would write today about Venezuela … “I pity the poor who once had a chance, who worked and did right, and yet were betrayed … I pity the poor who wish they’d not seen a better life, had never seen a better future … I pity the poor who never knew they were poor, I pity the poor who were happy, and now wish for that back … I pity the poor who were promised the moon, and now are worse than ever before.”

        • Talk about the personal and intimate.
          Yesterday my wife and i were in a supermarket with an 80 year old woman, at the till she didnt have enough money to pay for here food, we paid for her and she was in tears.
          The point is the misery that people in Miraflores are deliberately pushing on the people of Venezuela, it is horrendous and you see the personal, intimate effects every day.

  1. Naky not here anymore, but lots of news going on today.

    Hopefully Trump drops some bombs at the UN this week in favor of Venezuela. Also Frente Amplio at it again. Lets see if the students dont get blocked out by fake opposition. Need the huegla nacional ASAP. Think people are finally fed up with the politicians and even rejected MCM last week from showing up at a sector rally.

    • That Nicmer Evans is a piece of shit, 2 faced ‘socialista’ Chavistoide scoundrel. “Politologo”..” $$$$ – Mudcrap. If that’s all they’ve got left, weasels like this Nicmer and the other frente amplio ‘leaders’ there.. Kleptozuela is certainly doomed.

      Would love to see some resistance, but any “huelga” or strike would be promptly sabotaged and crushed by the narco-regime and millions of complicit thugs everywhere, many infiltrated in the ‘opposition’. Nicaraguan style.

      There’s only one way and that is by force, military.

  2. And that’s the Maracuchos, known to be the toughest people, along with the Gochos from Tachira.

    Docile sheep by now, most of them. Urban Zombies. Beggars and slaves. Many hard-core criminals by now. That’s our so-called “Bravo Pueblo”.. Que molleja, huh..

    You can understand the old ladies and older people. Can’ blame them, but where did all the young, fiery, irreverent Maracuchos go? Y los Gochos? I venture to guess that either they left Klepto-Narco Cubazuela, with their tails between their legs, derrotados, vencidos, or they are Complicit and Corrupt, enchufados in countless ‘alcaldias or ministerios. Public servants, thieves. That’s where most young Maracuchos left probably are. Contributing to Chavismo. Feeding Chavismo, keeping Chavismo in power. Making obscure deals and mordidas left and right, stealing all they can, collecting every penny they can with their lousy ‘calnets de la patria’. Grabbing every Clapcrap bag they can, and stealing the neighbor’s bag if available too. Hoping that one day, as Juan Luis Guerra says, “llueva cafe en el campo”.

    Can anyone investigate and report here about how many Public Employees are there in Maracaibo only? Tens of thousands? Staright-up or indirectly hooked-up on Chavismo’s Payroll? En la nomina de Maduro y Cabello? How many bogus ‘alcaldia’ or ‘ministerio’ offices? How many became corrupt Guardia Nazionales, or filthy bolibanana police.. Thousands. Upon thousands. I suspect that’s where most of the remaining young pueblo-people are, all around Kleptozuela: ENCHUFADOS or gone. Complict and/or scared to death. “Socialistas” or not. From any political party. Young Pueblo-people.

    How many “funcionarios publicos” are there in Caracas? How many in the filthy ‘armed forces’? Just like Cuba, only worse. In Cuba or Haiti or in Africa old ladies usually don’t dig through the garbage to eat. While the remaining young ‘bravo-pueblo’ is too busy collecting Chavismo’s payroll checks, plus numerous dubious benefits and favors, stealing all they can. (Not all, of course, but a LOT of them).

    That’s why Kleptozuela ended up where it did: El Pueblo was not that ‘brave’ or hard-working, or educated or honest as we liked to think. On the contrary, they have proven to be incredibly Ignorant, Clueless, and often Corrupt. Complicit Chickens, and/or voracious Criminals, for the most part. How many young, average Maracuchos or Caraqueños are actually in gangs, and dealing drugs? I suspect most of them are into illegal, shady activities, if not actually robbing and kidnapping with knives and guns. Which is why Kleptozuela also holds world records in crime, insecurity, drug trade, and murders: Ask the young Maracucho pueblo why. They know exactly why because they are the ones committing the crimes, with their Pran buddies, and police and Gualdia Nazional. Yes, el “bravo pueblo”. The young. That’s who. Not just a few Chavistas.

    No soft and corrupt MUD or “oposicion democratica’ can fix Kleptozuela now. The pueblo is too rotten, at all levels of whatever societies are left. Thousands of young, average Maracuchos would need to go to jail, and get some semblance of an education, just like in every other corrupt Kleptozuelan city. Only a very tough, severe government – derechista – could begin to do that, and it would take a looooong time.

    • “How many young, average Maracuchos or Caraqueños are actually in gangs, and dealing drugs? I suspect most of them are into illegal, shady activities, if not actually robbing and kidnapping with knives and guns. ”

      You cannot be this ignorant, but unfortunately I think you are.

  3. Although ineptness/inefficiency/corruption are inherent in the culture/Beast, the Cuban-directed Plan is to run off/exile/jail the 10-20% dissidents/educated/Opposition, leaving the remaining docile old/infirm/poor lumpen to either die or be subjugated to the yoke of Castro-Communism.

  4. So the guy was walking in the dark, fell into an open sewer, broke some parts of his body, cops would not help get him out of the sewer and he had to stay in the sewer until the fire brigade finally got him out. Then the hospital says they can’t help him and send him home. At home there is no water, no electricity, no medicine and probably little or no food.. That is a bad day in anybody’s book. I hope the guy gets some help soon.

  5. “Current State of Maracaibo City: Looks Like War But It’s Chavismo”

    WRONG.

    It’s the Maracuchos. Vastly uneducated, ignorant, submissive, complicit and corrupt.

    Face it.

  6. Chavismo and the current epic are an internal problem on the one hand, but now that the problem is spilling over the borders in a regular tsunami, outside forces will eventually force a solution. Internal suffering, no matter how grave, is not enough for outsiders (usually) to force play. But when other nation’s resources start getting tanked to deal with Chavismo 3rd hand, which is starting to happen, outsiders are within their rights to go after those responsible. The Chavismo macho creed was that they were never accountable to ANYONE outside Venezuelan borders. Now that those borders are bleeding badly, something will eventually have to give, and it ain’t gonna be the outsiders.

  7. Not El Guapo writing this part.

    He’s got a broken left hip. (likely a femoral head fracture by the picture) The leg is elevated, and the reason his ankle is wrapped on the left is because of traction, to keep the bones aligned. (Note the wooden device wrapped in the ace. It is fastened to the foot of the bed, perhaps nailed to the board?) Its the poor mans way of getting traction without weights. They should have the foot of the bed elevated to use his body mass as a counter weight.

    This guy is f*cked if they don’t get it set soon. They will likely have to re-break it if they do attempt to repair.

  8. Very telling, wearing an I (heart) Maduro hat while digging through garbage bags. Maduro gives us free stuff and the great Satan in the north makes us eat garbage. Perfect manifestation of socialism’s adaptation of Hitler’s Big Lie technique. Socialist, communist, Nazi, fill-in-the-blank party. If the people in charge are devoid of even a modicum of morality or caring for their fellow man the outcome is always disasterous, it’s the nature of the beast.

    • The IRONY, eh?

      I have sat through my fair share of parades each summer, and every time its the same thing… the local politicians walking the route, glad-handing and passing out freebies. Hats, stickers, key-chains, pencils, notepads… it’s all marketing. People LOVE free shit because… IT’S FREE! (SEE? Middle America has a LOT in common with Chavistas! We LOVE FREE SHIT!) My favorite freebie is the foam can coolie… I use them all the time to insulate pipes. I got TONS of them from people I support and despise. Doesn’t matter. I cut the bottoms out, split them and ON THE PIPES THEY GO!

      Not sure I would wear a Maduro hat whilst digging through garbage for food. Either he is a true believer (and thinks El Imperio is the one to blame for his hunger); he is totally oblivious (willful ignorance) to the dichotomy of supporting Chavismo while digging through garbage; or the hat was a plant by the photographer. I expect #3 is the logical explanation, but wouldn’t be shocked by any of them.

      I own a MAGA hat. I wear it infrequently (not pro-Trump but anti-Hillary/Bernie), but only when I am trying (successfully) to irritate an otherwise PERPETUALLY OUTRAGED Leftist.

  9. “When he fell, it took forever to pull him out. Finally the fire brigade helped, because the police didn’t want to cooperate,” she said, frustrated by the officers’ reaction.

    So, if/when the end of the Bolivarian revolution comes, you will know who your friends are. Clearly, it was beneath these police officers to sully themselves by helping in retrieving an injured fellow human being from a sewer.

    So, now you know who your enemy is. That is some good news…

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