Photo: Voanoticias retrieved.
Power outages in Zulia have affected practically everything: everyday life, basic things like sleeping, eating or shopping, phone lines, the internet and gas stations, hospitals and clinics, and the decline of oil production.
The latter is truly dramatic if we consider that at least 90% of the foreign currency entering Venezuela comes from oil revenues—and the Zulian region is the heart of everything: In 2015, it was proven to have more potential regarding oil production than Mexico and Argentina put together.
Even though in September 23, Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta Domínguez claimed that power rationing in the state would end (“As long as the attacks against the National Electric System don’t resume”), at least three major blackouts have taken place since, and in rural regions such as Machiques and Guajira, the service still fails for days.
Experts say the problem is far from being solved and the government just puts makeup on it. The crisis will come back with a vengeance for sure.
According to the National Assembly, PDVSA has stopped receiving $170 billion due to plummeting production and, although there’s no official data on how the power cuts have harmed the State-run company in Zulia, in 2012 it was responsible for 38% of the entire country’s oil production, and now it only produces 25%.
In March, when the tragedy was starting, Fedecámaras reported that the company’s headquarters in Lagunillas were battered by power outages and, although it had a power plant, that wasn’t enough to sustain a normal working day.
Moreover, most of the trained personnel has quit due to low salaries, in addition to the public transport crisis which is partly caused by blackouts that leave long lines in gas stations, preventing employees from getting to work on time, or at all.
Zulia is the story of how an oil-rich state struggles to survive due to corruption, inefficacy and the Bolivarian revolution’s trumped-up policies, and there’s no hope in sight. And what hope can there be, when the State-run company’s chairman, Manuel Quevedo, a soldier loyal to Nicolás Maduro, holds praying to God as the main strategy to boost production?