Photo: @Naky retrieved
It’s been over 100 hours since the national blackout started and there are still places where power hasn’t returned since last Thursday, March 7th. The lack of electricity has intensified the lack of water and this Monday, March 11th in Caracas, we saw San Agustin neighbors use the gorges that feed Guaire river to fill their buckets with water. Although they’re not sewage drains, their water’s obviously unsafe, but since the state has been incapable of fulfilling its promise of distributing water tankers “for all communities,” people collect it even from the banks of a heavily polluted river.
Caracas has been crumbling for years, but it finally feels the bottom has completely fallen out. Residents in San Augustin are flocking to a terribly polluted river today to collect water that would ever bathing in — let alone drink. pic.twitter.com/wa6UeYq9cY
— Andy Rosati (@andrewrosati) March 11, 2019
— Efecto Cocuyo (@EfectoCocuyo) March 11, 2019
Mayor Érika Farías denied the event and disregarded it as “a show,” and the National Guard descended upon the place to intimidate journalists for covering what was happening.
Érika Farías, alcaldesa ausente de Caracas, asegura a #FMCenter que es un invento que habitantes de San Agustín del Sur hayan recogido agua del río Guaire.
— Darvinson Rojas (@DarvinsonRojas) March 11, 2019
But in Lídice, people were also drinking from a gorge, and in Barquisimeto, they bathed in streams and even sewers.
Estoy es curazaito en Lidice, las personas hacen filas para tomar agua en una quebrada qué pasa por ese lugar pic.twitter.com/CWp5BM8dTk
— Harley Monseguileman (@Harley_Monse) March 11, 2019
Yesterday, the military prevented Venezuelans from entering with food across the border, just like there were guards to prevent the collection of water in the streets. Forbidding will only make it more costly, but it won’t stop happening.
Está mal maldecir. Por eso, MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS MALDITOS! pic.twitter.com/cTYwDHhN74
— Cristian Crespo F. (@cristiancrespoj) March 11, 2019
In this Monday’s extraordinary session, the National Assembly unanimously authorized the decree of State of National Alarm due to the electric crisis we’re experiencing, which establishes a State of Emergency for 30 days.
Cumpliendo con mis atribuciones constitucionales como Presidente (E), he enviado a la @AsambleaVE la solicitud para que se decrete estado de alarma en todo el territorio nacional debido a la tragedia que vive el país a causa del apagón nacional sostenido. #ANSesiónDeEmergencia pic.twitter.com/et5WjL8uy0
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) March 11, 2019
It also issues direct orders to the Armed Forces to protect the staff of the National Electric Corporation (CORPOELEC) while they stabilize the system and, in order to guarantee the maximum conservation of fuel, it orders the immediate suspension of the supply of crude, fuel or derivatives to Cuba. Similarly, it establishes that security bodies can’t impede or repress citizen protests. Caretaker President Juan Guaidó offered a great summary of this crisis: “It’s the product of the corruption, incapacity and disrespect for the Constitution of a sadistic regime that has brought people only misery.” Guaidó urged citizens to protest this Tuesday 12th at 3:00 p.m. “in their closest avenue,” to condemn this crisis that intensifies our complex humanitarian emergency.
Nicolás is still bent on giving an epic turn to a tragedy that sums up his corruption and incompetence. His loyalists die too, so Vladimir Padrino claimed that “patience is the weapon that will bring us victory,” while Néstor Luis Reverol said that by Nicolás’s instructions, the officials responsible for basic services held a meeting to “guarantee that they reach the people directly” in this contingency. In other words, what they don’t regularly guarantee, they’ll guarantee now in this crisis. Jorge Arreaza announced his meeting with the team from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He described to them “human rights and social protection policies” meaning that he lied.
Esta mañana recibimos al equipo de la misión técnica de trabajo de la Oficina de la Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos de la ONU @mbachelet. Fue una reunión de coordinación e información sobre las políticas de DDHH y protección social en Venezuela pic.twitter.com/XPSVq26FA3
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 11, 2019
In any case, this team is also set to meet representatives of UN agencies operating in the country, with the National Assembly’s board, civil society organizations and victims of human rights violations.
Fixing the energy
Chavismo blames the empire for cyberattacks. Experts say that a fire collapsed the power system which hasn’t received any maintenance or investments in years. Chavismo says that they’re fighting to restore the service, but the incidents haven’t stopped, including explosions of transformers in distribution substations. The cities have operated at the pace imposed by the scarce energy distribution. Jorge Rodríguez claimed late in the afternoon that they’ve made progress in restoring the service and that, since past Thursday, they’ve been targeted by “five criminal attacks against the national electric service.” It doesn’t matter how many there’s been, that’s no excuse for their incapacity to solve the problem and assist the population. Believe it or not, Rodríguez urged people to save electricity, as if there was any other choice, as if circumstances weren’t imposing the saving. Chavismo’s spite for citizens is unquenchable. Academic and business activities were suspended this Tuesday as well.
Briefs and serious
There was no school in the country and most businesses remained closed. Metro de Caracas was out of order, many gas stations were closed and in international airports, many flights were cancelled. The lack of electricity has intensified the crisis in hospitals. The country’s main oil terminal, Jose, hasn’t restarted its exports; additionally, the Orinoco Oil Strip’s crude enhancers are operating at a minimum since the blackout started. Venezuela’s still mostly offline. NGO Foro Penal reported at least 22 protesters arrested between March 8th and 10th, and over 70 people arrested in lootings. Most of the looting has taken place in Zulia State, one of those that remain in the dark since Thursday afternoon.
Movements on the board
The United States imposed sanctions on Russian bank Evrofinance Mosnarbank for its operations with PDVSA, said the Treasury Department. Until September, chavismo used accounts in that bank to evade sanctions. The U.S. is also pressuring India to stop purchasing Venezuelan oil and President Donald Trump asked Congress to allow the State Department to reserve $500 million to “respond to the crisis” in Venezuela and “support a democratic transition.” State Secretary Mike Pompeo said that Russia and Cuba are responsible for the Venezuelan crisis; he said that the blackout is the result of years of decline in the system. National Security Advisor John Bolton echoed the AN’s decision and wrote about the suspension of crude exports to Cuba, warning companies that facilitate those shipments that they’re “on notice.”
The Venezuelan National Assembly has decreed the suspension of crude exports to Cuba following the collapse of the national electrical grid. Insurance companies and flag carriers that facilitate these give-away shipments to Cuba are now on notice.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) March 11, 2019
This Tuesday, the European Parliament will discuss the worsening of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis; Speaker Antonio Tajani denounced on Twitter the regime’s responsibility for the deaths that have taken place during the national blackout. Panama says that the situation in Venezuela is critical after the blackout.
There are still regions in the country without electricity. People in the street talk of their uncertainty, because they don’t know when we’ll overcome this situation; of their anxiety for the severe problems in water and food supply; of the despair caused by disinformation and of course, of the anger at the arrogance of a regime that, even though they’ve done everything wrong, insists on holding on to power despite the level of rejection. Without certainties about the state and stability of the electric system, water supply is even more scarce. It’s imperative to use what little we have with extreme caution. Our complex humanitarian emergency has only gotten worse. We’re floundering.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.