Location: Barquisimeto, Lara state, Venezuela
Occupation: Freelance digital marketer
My name is Estela. I live in an apartment in the center of the city of Barquisimeto, Lara state. Every day it is a challenge to survive in Venezuela, and every day it gets even worse.
My day consists of preparing myself for survival the next day. I have to make sure I have water and emergency food for the next day. Until now we always had gas, but at this moment we have none. We have to make sure there is food ready for the next day.
I confirm if we have electricity when waking up. If we have electricity, the first thing we do, even before having breakfast, it is to lower the pots (toilet, water closet, toilet, sink), and check how much water is left; if low, my family and I fill all the containers that can be used for this purpose while the water pump works and goes up to our apartment.
If we do not have electricity, it will undoubtedly be a bad day since we will have to go down to the basement on foot for water, 8 floors in total, since I live on the 7th floor plus the extra floor of the basement.
We live very stressed and wake up in the middle of the night to check if the electric power is on, in which case we verify if the water pump is working and supply us with the vital liquid, and repeat as previously explained. If there is no power, we try to sleep, it is not safe to go down to the basement at night.
Every day we boil at least 2 large pots of water to drink and avoid diarrhea, hepatitis A or E or any other disease.
We try to have as much cleanliness as possible. We do not accumulate garbage and keep washed pots, plates and cutlery, all cooking utensils clean.
If we have electricity we read the latest news and I am particularly interested in those related to health such as "Lack of water can become a health catastrophe." So far we have not gotten sick.
As for food, we prepare rice with eggs at 4.30am with a small electric stove. The shortage of food is brutal. Many people are dying of starvation.
We have what is called direct gas here, among all the residents of the building a fee is collected and paid to the driver of the gas truck to bring it, when he can.
Gas cylinders are no longer available, it has been extremely difficult to obtain them for a long time, if they could not we could not get them up to our apartment due to the weight, unless there was electric power and the elevator was working.
My biggest concern, is the shortages of gasoline and diesel. It is incredible that an oil country announces something like that. These are fuels that used not only for vehicles but also generators. The generators are used by clinics and some businesses, the rent ranges between 10 and 15 dollars a day.
Of course, due to the nature of my work, I can only do it when we have electric power.
When I collect money in dollars or euros I sell them at the best rate I can and immediately go out to buy food, we cannot be demanding. We buy what we can get at exorbitant prices, they truly exceed what is considered normal or reasonable in the middle of a hyperinflationary economy.
I do not like to go too far from my residence because of the security issue. When I go out to get food it is common to see people who walk and suddenly fall down, as I am a Catholic I try to help them depending on their physical appearance: if they are young, I fear they may be delinquents, but if they are elderly or they are see sick I try to help in some way.
It is also common to see people looking to eat trash. It is terribly painful to see, people try to help them by giving bread or grains, since there is no cash.
All purchase / sale operations are made by bank transfer or points of sale when there is electricity. When there is not, trade is limited to cash transactions and is practically nil.
There are no queues to buy emergency food due to extreme scarcity, but the more scarce the more expensive the food is. People who sell products at exorbitant prices are called Bachaqueros.
It is such a ruthless and terrible crisis that there are very few animals that are seen in the streets such as dogs or pigeons, what happened to them? I suppose they have been eaten or have died of starvation.
For today and tomorrow I prepped beans with rice in the electric kitchen. Yes, today I have light and take the opportunity to write this article, cook and look for work.
I do not think the beans and rice will spoil even if the light goes out, however, I will share it with neighbors who are in the same conditions and do the same with their food.
In my building, lately they organize activities to share, especially when there is no electricity and you cannot work. People who have gas cylinders take them to the party room and if there is no one who can contribute, they cook with wood, yes to firewood. Others carry meat that may be decomposing or damaged and others contribute with cassava. Everyone is trying to survive.
Just yesterday Maduro, announced an electricity rationing but did not say the regions or their schedules. He says that the electrical crisis is the product of a sabotage.
Estela as a freelance digital marketer. She writes articles, develops websites, e-commerce, Google advertising, templates in MailChimp, SEO and many other things.