Venezuela: Political Resilience in a Massive Material Emergency

https://i0.wp.com/www.sibialiria.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/acqua.jpgMarinella Correggia Reporting from Caracas
Internationalist 360°

The shortage of water (Mother Earth’s milk as the philosopher of Bolivia and former minister David Choqueanca, now secretary of the Alba Alliance, calls it) overshadows what was the first concern of Venezuelans: to acquire food and products at affordable prices that are not essential and are not distributed at ultra-subsidised prices. People also organize themselves in the aftermath of the blackout – which, moreover, continues in various districts of the city and the country and which is currently operating with dry taps.

Resilience more political than technical

It must be said that the resilience of Venezuelan citizens is primarily political. On Monday (another working day due to the failure of the metro and problems of light and water), the National Radio of Venezuela (RNV) broadcast from Bolivar Square both the messages and tweets of citizens from various places in the country who were all happy to announce the return of light after the blackout (as Cuba in the 1990s called the long periods without electricity), and the exhortation of the Minister of Education Aristóbulo Istúriz Almeida. Speaking from another gathering in Miraflores (seat of the Presidency of the Republic), he urged “the 54 movements that make up the Congress of Peoples to form the Movement for the Defense and Protection of Public Services, and to mobilize in the squares permanently, a fundamental act in at this moment”. There is only the street, Giorgio Gaber would say.

Opposition lies about the cause of the blackout unmasked by a coffee vendor on the street

Mr. Luis lives in the suburb of Pastora but with his wife he sells coffee in the morning at his banquet in front of a white church, near the metro La Hoyada. Besides being the only one to offer good and affordable coffee (even if it has increased from 100 to 150), and to carry from home, in addition to the thermos, the disposable cups (they have about 50, then go home to wash them), he is a person who knows an infinite number of things because, as his wife says, “he has no Internet but reads, reads, reads” (and watches cultural and political television programs). At home they now have light but not water, a problem with the pump. I ask him: “This blackout, perhaps the most important in a non-poor country, according to some social networks is not due to cybernetic sabotage but to a forest fire that reached the hydroelectric plant of Guri …”. He shakes his head: “What a propaganda idiocy! Several power plants have blown in succession, not only Guri which is the third largest in the world, fed by the river Caranì. So absurd. Unfortunately, the young people believe in social networks… Even here, they don’t inform themselves, they don’t listen at all to either of the bells, they are caught off guard”. Unfortunately, the whole world is a country. However, despite the emergency, the situation is very quiet, why is that? “Because the people who were already in this world in 1989 – I was there now being 54 -, can not forget the cacelorazo, the protest that led to an incredible massacre, the bodies piled up with excavators in an area called The Plague. Then the Socialists were not present yet, there was either Democratic Accion of the President-in-Office or the right. I voted for the first, but that president was guilty of unprecedented repression. Since then Venezuelans have been repudiating violence! Except for the guarimberos of the opposition, in 2014 and 2017… “Yeah, then they killed my uncle, 67 years old. But they were young people with Rambo tendencies, fomented by external interests”.

Queue for water at Candelaria, tankers for barrios

In the central district of Candelaria, in the subway area between Bellas Artes and Carabobo, there is a long queue with characteristic blue plastic cans for collecting water, each with a capacity of about 20 litres. I ask a lady wearing makeup: “Is it water for drinking? How much does it cost?” “Yes, they sell filtered water, yesterday it was a thousand bolivars, today I don’t know…” “But why buy it if you can boil it?” “Well, we here at Candelaria have no tap water ever” (not even for ten minutes in which the water arrives – at least until today … – rationed and programmed in the cistern of the palace of Attilio, near the station Socorro).

However, listening to the RNV, everyone is mobilized, there is a total water and electricity emergency in the poor neighborhoods, where water is being distributed by truck. Yoselina Guevara, a teacher, tells us: “The minister of ecosocialism Erik Rangel himself was supposed to go to Kenya, but he stayed here, he is in the park – the Parco del Este – where the water is being collected”.

Original Article in Italian

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