19 de mayo de 2019
Hispanic World

Maracaibo, Venezuela's 2nd largest city, feels the heat of the blackouts

By Hector Pereira

By Hector Pereira

Maracaibo, Apr 23 (efe-epa).- Norma quickly deals with a request for an interview. She wants to go shut herself back in her room and feel the cool of the air conditioning during the eight hours a day the electric power is switched on in Maracaibo, the richest and most populated Venezuelan city after Caracas.

This Salvadoran immigrant makes it through 16 hours a day without electricity and with the blazing tropical heat at around 40 C (104 F), while doing whatever it takes to obtain food and keep it from rotting during the power outages that for weeks have kept everyone's refrigerator, freezer and air conditioner turned off for most of the time in this oil-producing country.

Nonetheless, she's aware of her luck.

"In this district we fortunately have water every five days. We're lucky...other districts go a month (without water)," EFE was told by the 70-year-old woman, who in March went more than 300 hours without electricity and had to throw in the garbage several kinds of food that putrefied while the power was off and the house was in darkness.

Norma is, in effect, very fortunate if compared with most of Maracaibo's 5 million inhabitants, and even more if compared with Alberto Lopez, a 50-year-old worker who spoke with EFE while bathing in a ravine, since the plumbing in his house, he said, has been dry for longer than he can remember.

The blackouts "have heated up my freezer and my refrigerator completely, so I don't have anything right now, I'm ruined," he said with the same anger as when he talked about living in front of the state power company, and even so can only keep his light bulbs lit for two hours a day.

Also exhausted in the gloom, office worker Chidi Nuñez waited with one of her children to find some sort of transport to take her home at night, when the darkness is complete and the violence in the streets grows.

"I've been more than 24 hours without electricity. Sometimes it turns on, but after two or three hours it's off again," said the woman, 40, who spoke of having no water in her house since last December, since with no electricity, water pumps don't work.

For that reason, she chooses to buy water from people who fill up containers with 300 liters (80 gallons) of water for around $8, double the monthly minimum wage that Venezuelans earn amid the national hyperinflation.

"I don't buy meat," she said without giving importance to her diet, and refrained from criticizing the fact that her children have to be "outside the house all day" to escape the high indoor temperatures, and that they only take classes "twice a week because they can't stand the heat in the classroom."

"We all live outside the house now, on the sidewalk, in a hammock," she said.

Her testimony only emphasized another consequence of the electricity cuts: many people sleep on the roofs and open areas of their homes to escape the early morning heat when the wind is strongest on this tropical coastline.

With its hundreds of thousands of air conditioners out of action, Maracaibo has lost the sarcastic nickname of "Venezuela's coldest city," as in the last decade when the power cuts were so merciless that it could no longer hold the title of the city that consumed more electricity than anywhere else in Latin America.

After these years of degradation, the total number of businesses that have closed their doors in the Zulia capital are counted in the hundreds of thousands.

The rest of Venezuela, with the exception of Caracas and which under government orders goes 18 hours a week without electricity, looks with regret but with a certain relief at what Zulia is going through, always under the blazing sun.

Within this federal state, super rich in oil and bordering on Colombia, people line up for hours every day at service stations to fill the tanks of their vehicles, while others spend the same amount of time waiting for the water wagons that provide them with enough to wash themselves or to make dinner.

"A little cold water" is, as the storekeeper Esperanza Veliz told EFE, a luxury much sought after by inhabitants of the so-called "beloved land of the sun."

Histórico de noticias
Opposition member killed by prison guard honored in Nicaragua

Matagalpa, Nicaragua, May 19 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of people turned out Sunday to honor an opposition member who was killed during a prison riot last week in...

Chile to be main country at Berlinale European Film Market 2020

Cannes, France, May 19 (efe-epa).- Chile will be the featured country at the Berlinale European Film Market 2020, which will allow it to prepare its own...

Argentina's Fernandez pulls surprise with vice-presidential bid

Rodrigo Garcia

25Th death anniversary of Jackie Kennedy

By Javier Romualdo

Antekounmpo helps Bucks take 2-0 lead over Raptors in EC finals

Milwaukee, USA, May 17 (efe-epa).- Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo put up a double-double of 30 points and 17 rebounds along with five assists...

US reaches agreement with Mexico, Canada on lifting metals tariffs

Washington, May 17 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States confirmed Friday that his administration has reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada...

Gasoline shortage comes to haunt Caracas

Caracas, May 17 (efe-epa).- Caracas residents this Friday formed long lines to fill up their vehicles' gas tanks and even had to avoid certain service...

Stars, fans flock to San Juan for Puerto Rico Comic Con

San Juan, May 17 (efe-epa).- The 17th edition of Puerto Rico Comic Con got under way Friday at the San Juan Convention Center, kicking off a busy weekend of...

Body found on Argentine mountain may be Spanish climber missing since 1990

Buenos Aires, May 17 (efe-epa).- A mummified body discovered on the slopes of El Rincon mountain appears to be that of a Spanish climber who disappeared 29...

Venezulan envoy backs Norway dialogue, warns of sabotage by opposition

Santiago, May 17 (efe-epa).- The Venezuelan ambassador to Chile expressed his support this Friday for the talks in Norway between representatives of his...

States in Midwest and South challenge 1973 legalization of abortion

By Jorge Mederos.

Brazil rolls out revamped squad for Copa America

Rio de Janeiro, May 17 (efe-epa).- The Brazilian national soccer team's revamped roster will get its first major test when it hosts the upcoming 2019 Copa...

Trump postpones decision on auto tariffs for 6 months

Washington, May 17 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States on Friday postponed for six months a decision on whether to slap tariffs on imports of...

Panama's main independent group deciding whether to form a political party

By Maria M. Mur

Spanish play about role of poetry, beauty in a sick society comes to Uruguay

Alejandro Prieto

Latin America urged to focus on sustainable infrastructure

Alfonso Fernandez.

Trump leaves "Dreamers" out of immigration plan

Washington, May 16 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump presented Thursday a plan for "merit-based" immigration policies that does not address the situation...

Severe Mexico City pollution forcing authorities to seek long-term solution

Zoilo Carrillo

Washington, May 16 (EFE).- The last four supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who were protesting inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington...

Venezuela's Guaido confirms talks in Norway with Maduro gov't

Caracas, May 16 (efe-epa).- Self-proclaimed Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaido said here Thursday that his representatives have been meeting in Norway...

Chile, Colombia and Peru lead sustainable public-private partnerships

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, May 16 (EFE).- Chile, Colombia and Peru lead the index of capacity to carry out sustainable public-private partnerships in...

Legendary boxer Roberto Duran says his life has material for many films

By Fabio Agrana and Rogelio Adonican Osorio

Brazil says it's still a Women's World Cup favorite despite losing streak

Rio de Janeiro, May 16 (efe-epa).- The head coach of Brazil's women's national soccer team said here Thursday that his squad remains a favorite at the...

Venezuelan National Assembly's admin building closed on bomb fears

Caracas, May 16 (efe-epa).- The opposition-controlled Venezuelan National Assembly's administrative building was closed on Thursday due to concerns that a...