Shutting off power means shutting off the people

Posted by Family Rations on

Author: Paola

Location: Petare, Caracas, Venezuela

Occupation: Writer


Nowadays living in Venezuela is an odyssey, either due to the high cost of food, the impossibility of taking public transport, the long lines to acquire any type of service and now one more feature is added: the lack of electricity and the constant blackouts that are occurring throughout the country. These power failures are not new since they had been happening in other states of the country, for example the Zulia state where before the blackouts they had already spent more than 5 days without electricity and therefore they lack the water service and often gas.

What about Venezuela and why was this lack of light in the other states not mentioned? Well, it happens that for the eyes of the international community and even the eyes of our own people, only Caracas matters. While Caracas is well everything is fine; but the reality is different.

From my experience: I personally live in Caracas, in the Sucre municipality, Petare parish. Petare has been and continues to be one of the most dangerous areas in Venezuela, where you can find multiple types of people, from those who go through extreme poverty to those who have a good socioeconomic level but who for convenience stay living in this area, where they have spent most of their lives. However, in the moment of chaos we all go through the same situation, nobody is saved from being without water, gas or light.

The first blackout was on March 7, which left the whole country without electricity, in some areas for 2 days, for 3, and in my personal case: 5 days. Five days where you have no way to get around, five days without water because the water pumps in my building obviously do not work without electricity. Living in a 16th floor it is almost impossible to collect water quickly and efficiently, adding that the option to fill water directly from the residence tank was not always available, because the concierge did not answer calls to open the door of access to the pump. Go down with two 10ltr buckets of water, two water jugs of 5ltr, and by human power raise them, for 16 floors plus the lantern because obviously everything is dark at night; with a single trip that amount of water represents a minimum amount to be able to wash the dishes. It should be noted that you must make 3 to 4 trips, 16 floors, make queues as the neighbors of the entire tower who are in the same situation. A 20-story building with 6 apartments per floor: 120 people carrying water to survive at the same time.

In my house we are 4 people, of which only two carried water, my mom stayed in the apt to be able to empty the water collected in the buckets and empty containers, I could not collect water due to a state of health that made it impossible for me to do because the medicine I needed for it cost me more or less 3 minimum salaries for a single day.

In these situations one must use water with great awareness, every drop counts and every minute too. It is obvious that one has physiological needs and that they should be taken care of, but nothing else to go to urinate or evacuate made us think whether to do it or not because we could not be spending the little water available to empty the toilets; this situation is obligatory since leaving waste there stagnant can cause serious health consequences. The best solution we could find for the occasion: when we had to bathe we used two "tobos" as we call it here or two large containers, one where we had the water available, and the other one to bathe in it, standing and thus be able to recycle water and this water was intended to empty or lower the toilets. Continuing with the issue of water, and without having reserve items such as tanks, one has to keep looking for ways to save water as much as possible; one avoids brushing at all costs, washing the hair, the bath can be every two days, the plates of the food were only rinsed so that it was only superficial and can use them again but spending as little water as possible. In these situations it is impossible to think of hiring alternative services such as tankers, since during the chaos caused by the lack of electricity, they take advantage of the need of the people and can charge between $100-150 USD per day in a country where this currency is not produced or mobilized and where the minimum wage would be approximately $6 at exchange, for which it is impossible to pay it and more if we are from the lower middle class or low, like most of the inhabitants of the area.

But the problem is not only in the water, the most important point is the lack of electricity itself, and the main appliance that is affected is the freezer and / or refrigerator. Obviously perishable products begin to be damaged, it is advisable to have frozen water bottles for food to resist, but let's face it, a frozen bottle cannot stand 5 days, so the "solutions" become null. You lose kilos of meat, chicken, fish which people make a sacrifice to buy, others we do not have so many possibilities so on that side we were not affected since we had no food to lose. But people who can give themselves those luxuries or rather tastes, began to give their food, to share it with the other neighbors so that it would not get lost and have to throw it away.

Keep in mind that when a country is completely dark you have no choice but to stay locked in your house, without communication without being able to know what happens in real time, with a deep silence and with a super-low mental state , just thinking that the longer we can last the water, the food, etc.

Under all this, people do not sympathize but rather take advantage of it, an example of what was experienced since March 7:

  • $10 - one bag of ice
  • $100-150 - one day truck rental 
  • $300 - 10 hours generator rental
  • $1 - 10 minutes of phone charging
  • $1 - one candle
  • $6 - one hot dog


And so many more things, and remember that in this country that currency is not generated, then the question remains: How do we acquire these services? I personally was not present in any war but this situation feels like it...

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