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Socialist Hell: Living in Post-Electricity Venezuela


CARACAS – Venezuela has always had trouble maintaining a functional power grid. I lived in the city of Punto Fijo from 1992 to 1996, blackouts were occasional back then. But those woes of times past are nothing compared to the catastrophic collapse of our power grid that started almost a decade ago.

Twenty years of Bolivarian Revolution bought about glaring mismanagement and underinvestment in our power grid. Our electric sector was nationalized in 2007, which – you guessed it – is when the power tribulations truly began to plague Venezuelans.

Experts have warned for years of the imminent collapse. Some states, such as Zulia, my birth state, have been suffering a gruesome power rationing for years.

The much-anticipated collapse finally happened on March 7, 2019.

The entire country was thrown into the Middle Ages in a snap. I went thirty hours without power. It returned to my area for approximately twelve hours. Then I was met with another thirty-hour blackout.

As expected, Maduro blamed the incident on America. He hasn’t offered an official explanation beyond stating that it was an “Electronic coup” and a “cyber attack.”

Caracas felt like a ghost town. You couldn’t hear a single thing, not even gunfire and car alarms — quintessential sounds that one often hears through the night. It was as if we were all collectively going through a bizarre mass solitary confinement.

Water distribution was disrupted, people desperately sought for it, even in sewer drains. Telecommunications, as well – we were essentially disconnected from the world. We couldn’t even access our money since the banking network was offline. In Zulia, all hell broke loose.

After the longest blackout in Venezuelan history, power continues to be erratic. The power had scarcely recovered before a second series of long blackouts hit the country towards the end of March. Power, internet, and cellphone reception continue to be unstable. The blackouts and brownouts are constantly interrupting my ability to write this article right now.

If you’re curious, here’s the convoluted power rationing schedule. Caracas was exempt from rationing due to “military demands.”