Photo: La Patilla retrieved

“How’s your mom doing with food?” a friend living in Europe asks me, consumed by worry and showing the fear she feels for her mother, still in Caracas.

Although it can’t be compared to the tragedy for those in Venezuela, the diaspora also suffers this blackout, away from home, unable to talk to their relatives, thinking of their meager food supplies, water shortages and looting; powerless to help the loved ones they left behind.

During the blackout that began on March 7th, and still continues in some parts of the country by March 15th, many journalists and social media users offered their channels to serve as an information bridge. Most published lists of the gas stations, supermarkets and hospitals still operational, so that Venezuelans could know as soon as they could access the internet again.

Skype also showed solidarity by offering free calls from anywhere in the world for 300 minutes. In WhatsApp broadcast messages, people described services like FireChat, which can be used to send texts without internet access, and shared websites such as recharge.com, to recharge the funds of mobile lines in Venezuela after online banking went out. Many also offered advice based on personal experience: “Call local numbers and try many times. Be patient.”

The diaspora also suffers this blackout, away from home, unable to talk to their relatives, thinking of their meager food supplies, water shortages and looting; powerless to assist the loved ones they left behind.

Venezuelans abroad shared their phone numbers on Instagram to get in touch with people in the country. Even singer Olga Tañón offered her social networks as a communication channel. Marco Pérez, a Miami-based Venezuelan influencer, organized a campaign to collect supplies for children in hospitals, although he couldn’t send them to Venezuela amidst the blackout, and he acknowledged it was a way to deal with his powerlessness.

Angela Blones, an expert in personal branding, along with a team of Venezuelans in Uruguay, set up a fundraiser to help NGOs: “We’ll collect money because there are no door-to-door delivery methods from Uruguay to Venezuela for supplies,” she said in an Instagram story.

The Spanish diaspora in Venezuela also tried to mobilize. In Lechería, a city in Venezuela’s eastern coast, Oriana Millán gathered friends and relatives, and started cooking the little food they had at home since Thursday, thanks to a neighbor with a power plant. They asked for help through social networks to collect more food, cook it and take it to hospitals or share it in the streets. Now they request donations through bank deposits to expand the assistance.

We can only do so much,” says Estefanie from Madrid, while her grandparents and uncles in Caracas still mourn the loss of the little food they had in their fridges.

Frustration, however, is the common trait among those living abroad. “You feel like your hands are tied, people get organized to collect food and medicine, but this tragedy overwhelms us. We can only do so much,” says Estefanie from Madrid, while her grandparents and uncles in Caracas still mourn the loss of the little food they had in their fridges. “In the end, we accompany them, and the crisis they experience directly is suffered all over the world.”

“You do what you can, but we’re still worried,” says Carlos, from Argentina. His elderly parents were isolated in their home for four days, in a town in Zulia. “What’ll happen to them while help arrives if they have an emergency?”

“When I could finally talk to my dad, he told me he was well, that it was humbling to see so much solidarity from the neighbors. Amidst the tragedy, they don’t wanna worry you,” said Luis Adrián, who’s been living in Panama for four years. For his parents, saying that “they’re well” on the phone is a way of protecting their children from the frustration and guilt they might have for leaving… when they’re certainly needed.

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