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2011-04-12

Venezuelans rattled by electrical crisis, wave of hunger strikes

Hania Salazar, president of the Nurses’ Union of Zulia State, in Western Venezuela, is participating in the hunger strike. (José Bolívar for Infosurhoy.com)

Hania Salazar, president of the Nurses’ Union of Zulia State, in Western Venezuela, is participating in the hunger strike. (José Bolívar for Infosurhoy.com)

By José Bolívar for Infosurhoy.com—12/04/2011

MARACAIBO, Venezuela – Norela Soto likely won’t forget April 7 anytime soon.

That’s when Soto, holding her baby, left her home to try to find a taxi on the streets in this western city that had been darkened by a blackout that started at 3:40 p.m. that day. A little more than two hours later, at least 17 states still were without power.

“My baby’s food got spoiled, as I could not keep it frozen,” Soto, 26, said. “We left for my mother-in-law’s home because I could not put my baby to bed like that: Without air conditioning, the heat and the mosquitoes could hurt my child.”

It wasn’t until 10 p.m. that power was restored throughout the country, including in the nation’s capital of Caracas. The hours of darkness shed light on the recurring problem of rolling blackouts, which began last year and have made living in the Andean nation rather difficult.

The blackout was caused “by a failure in three electrical towers located 250 kilometers (156 miles) west of Caracas,” said Venezuelan Minister of Electric Energy Alí Rodríguez. The towers were rendered useless for hours because a forest fire in the central states of Carabobo caused the transmission lines to collapse, according to a statement by state-owned electric generator Corpoelec.

In Caracas, the blackout stopped the Metro transit system, forcing thousands onto the street, where the influx of those searching for transportation caused the city’s bus system to come to a grinding halt.

Thousands of businesses closed their doors.

Another blackout affected the eastern zone of Caracas on April 9, leaving the entire neighborhood of La California without power for more than 12 hours.

Corpoelec said that for the foreseeable future, there will be three-hour blackouts daily (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) in the western states of Trujillo, Barinas and Mérida so technicians can repair the thermo-electric plant that was damaged by the blackout.

Residents are not happy.

“This is not fair. We thought this was over,” said Arantza Hamoudi, a 20-year-old stay-at-home mother in Valera, a city in the state of Trujillo. “The blackouts delay everything and make things unsafe. When will this end?”

But Venezuelans’ concerns extend beyond the three-hour power outages.

“Now, we have a problem with [the delivery of] cooking gas,” said Hipólito Benavides, a 56-year-old retired professor in Maracaibo. “Water comes every other day and we are still dealing with the electricity problem.”

Businesses also have been affected by the power outages.

“I can lose a full work day two or three times a week because of the blackouts,” said Edgar Suárez, 47, who owns a car wash in Punto Fijo, a coastal city in western Venezuela that is home to one of the country’s major oil and gas refineries. “In 2008, they opened a thermo-electrical plant here and the rationing continues.”

Venezuelans wonder who will pay for the home appliances that were damaged by the blackouts, especially in a country where gargantuan inflation and currency controls make purchasing these items extremely difficult.

“With the blackout on April 7, the refrigerator I purchased last year was damaged irreparably,” said Luis Araujo, a 44-year-old construction worker who lives in the San Miguel neighborhood of Maracaibo. “Now, I have to buy ice to keep my children’s food safe. Who is going to pay for this? Who is going to pay me for what I have lost thanks to this problem?”

But lack of electricity is not the only problem Venezuelans are facing, as a series of strikes staged by students and nurses has rattled the nation.

Students staged a hunger strike for 31 days at the steps of the United Nations’ building in Venezuela to demand increases in scholarships and improvements in food and transportation services.

The students reached a deal with the government on March 26.

But nurses continue to protest nationwide, demanding higher salaries, better working conditions and improved distribution of medical supplies.

“This protest is not political,” said Amalia Barriga, 57, a nurse for 37 years who is currently on strike in Maracaibo. “We are struggling financially even though we are university-trained professionals. Some of us have graduate degrees, so we cannot be making Bs.$1,400 (US$325 at the official exchange rate of Bs.$4.30 per US$1) a month.

“When we go to the supermarket, we leave with tears in our eyes because we cannot feed our families. We are hungry, and we want our work to be valued,” Barriga said.

More than 37 nurses in 10 states are staging the hunger strike, said Hania Salazar, president of the Nurses’ Union for the state of Zulia, in Maracaibo. Salazar is participating in the protest.

“We are Venezuelans, too,” Salazar said. “We have the right to receive part of the riches of this country. This country cannot be rich for everybody else. [How can the Venezuelan government] give US$10 million to fund a hospital in Uruguay when the hospitals all over Venezuela are falling apart?”

So why aren’t Venezuelans voicing their displeasure to government officials directly?

The reason? Simple, Salazar says.

She said criticizing the government can have major consequences.

“Many people are afraid [of protesting] because they don’t want to be fired,” Salazar said.

But Salazar said the nurses aren’t afraid of losing their jobs.

They just have one immediate goal: to engage in a peaceful conversation with government officials.

“We ask for dialogue,” she said.

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32 Comments

  • MANUEL M FARGAS | 2013-05-05

    Raul Castro got into Venezuela and they’re sucking the teat of the WEALTH OF VENEZUELA

  • isangela | 2011-05-31

    I am so sorry I learn that you're going through a tough time

  • Professor at. Nicolás M. Guerra B | 2011-05-30

    This title it´s a Lie: \"Venezuelans rattled by electrical crisis, wave of hunger strikes...\" I was studying in the great UPEL PhD. In fact, I knew the lies and criminal actions of the European and Creole Opposition Venezuela. The ridiculous pretensions of being able to steal back the country. Venezuela is not what you publish. To the extent that Venezuela is on top of food, education, proprietary technology, coberturta universal health, housing and Millennium achievements reached by the UN, ECLAC, UNICEF and European Commission. Thus, they can keep lying and stealing and Lic, Master Colonel Hugo Chavez Frias and the president sought to kill you with the CIA, DEA and Paramilitaries in Colombia with Llaguno bridge. Similarly, and exposed the disaster of the Opposition in the National Assembly is tremendous. Were before the world as they are and will be difficult to overthrow Chavez talking to the people and fulfilled. Venezuela minimum wage first, education second, third in purchasing power, third in home building popular declared free from illiteracy and hunger and only one agunta there is little nutrition and free health coverage and very good. Unemployment lowest in Latin America by beating U.S. and Spain, Colombia with 14%. And Venezuela with only 6.2%. And there are more things to say and lie to this Blog Colli Schricha bacteria of human poop very dangerous. It seems to us you are. Sincerely, The FAO said that Venezuela does not suffer from hunger since 2000 and I congratulate the government. That he could do the 4 th Republic?. You need to be treated with love psychopaths collective and family therapy dignity and values. To overcome the complex bow to the Americans and steal the country from their grandparents. The sad thing is that you are very ignorant and the assembly is clear. Professor (Dr) Nicolás M. Guerra B MEDELLÍN-ANTIOQUIA-COLOMBIA

  • ruth lina | 2011-05-30

    This is really boring.. you should make it better. Keep going School Number 49... we are the best because our 15th birthday is this June 4 and we are going to shake our booty a bit hahahah... and we will dance together.. kisses.

  • Isabel Teresa | 2011-05-27

    The opponents are bleeding from their wounds since they will no longer have any slaves available, people to mistreat. NOW VENEZUELA IS A FREE AND SOVEREIGN HOMELAND. WE VENEZUELANS ARE ALL THE SAME WE HAVE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES WITH NO CLASS DISTINCTIONS THANKS TO THE SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT OF THE LEADER OF LEADERS HUGO CHAVEZ FRIAS!!!

  • alfredo ferrebus | 2011-05-25

    It's too bad these dreamers who defend communism as if they were bitter it's OK for the one who is stealing because that is why they look for those positions but he who is in the same place worse than 12 years ago based on the deceit of improving his social situation with the hope of housing if they win the elections I say to these dreamers that the housing mission is not a man's promise it is the obligation of a nation and whoever wins has to make it happen our weapon is our vote and it is our punishment and remember it is secret

  • Francisco Gomez | 2011-05-24

    There is no liar who lives one hundred years, nor is there a culture that puts up with him !!!! Realize that the seed of change lies in your mind and will.

  • pzambrano | 2011-05-24

    Mr. José Bolívar, I don't know if you are Venezuelan or not, but what I can tell you is that you are a liar, if you want to talk about crises talk about Greece, about England, etc. The electrical problem has always been present in Venezuela and never was taken into account, in my town ever since they installed electrical service at the end of the seventies, there are blackouts every day, the same as in the whole region of Barlovento, I know almost all of my country, and I travel a lot, that is why I can speak to you properly about this, as for the nurses, while it is true they don't make what a congressperson makes, ask in what country do they have such wages, and the lady who talks about giving things away, stop watching just one TV channel and that way you will find out if anyone gave away anything in Venezuela it was Carlos Andrés Pérez and with no benefit to the country, such is the case of the reconstruction of Nicaragua, the highways in the Dominican Republic and don't keep counting, so who are you trying to fool with this article.

  • Leonor | 2011-05-23

    Since Chávez took over the presidency of Venezuela, this has been nothing but suffering, we Venezuelans have had no rest, this is standing in line all over the place, to get products for the so-called basic grocery basket: when there is milk available, there is no oil and so on, something is always missing. Nothing works this way and what kind of works in private business Chávez puts his hand on it and finishes it off, that's the case of FRIOSA, SAMBIL, LOS CADA etc. This is an economy based on the ports and improvisations example PUDREVAL, they rotted some 30,000 food containers, the containers covered a distance of 150 kilometers, from Caracas to Maracay, imagine how ill-fated this ungovernment is, crisis for everything: social security, academics, returns of illnesses, like tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, flue. They kill more than 100 people a day, there are 5,000,000 weapons on the streets of every caliber. To conclude, what Chávez is creating is a PARALLEL GOVERNMENT, to the 1999 Constitution. He is transferring everything about Cuba to Venezuela, and the Castro-communist government

  • ruperto | 2011-05-21

    How can you believe in an article of this nature when during the naming of the post during the meeting between Maria Angela Holguin and Porfirio Lobo, she is named Minister of Relations of Honduras when in reality she is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, in other words Edgar Garrido of Reuters needs to take a little course or bring himself up to date to stop sticking his foot in it so deeply and to you Jose Bolivar your nose is going to grow longer than Pinocchio's because of your grotesque and controversial article that aspires to covering all the the national scene by taking one isolated fact about the nurses strike made in the state of Zulia, the one most opposed to the ruling party, don't you realize it is a political strike and not one for vindication, anyway with the 40% raise the government gave the public sector in the smallest of the cases I think you missed the bus and want to keep bugging us, well really you will soon get another event that you will take the most grotesque and controversial aspect from and you will show it off like the great news that defines the situation of the country, you don't seem to be Venezuelan, my friend, play on the homeland's side and not in opposition....

  • Verónica | 2011-05-21

    Clearly the president hasn't given you too much: it is Real MadriD, not madri; unheard of that you don't know that it is JiméneZ not Gimenes (how gauche) and let me tell you, he did not do things out of the goodness of his heart, he was a dictator, he killed people...but yes, in that way he IS like your little president who is not worth anything...it is spelled Ciega, not siega... it is país, not paiz; razón, política, después, llanerísima always carry an accent, by the way, if what you wanted to write is 'honra', you never put a double r after an N... and Chávez, is capitalized and has an accent. You're welcome.

  • oswaldo | 2011-05-19

    In the dark, without water and without health; but with missiles.

  • victor leon | 2011-05-18

    A very good afternoon to all my compatriots who are going to read me, I was born in Caracas I am 54 years old ever since the Vargas tragedy I have been living in the town of Guri, state of Bolívar very happily with my three daughters and my wife, this is the most fruitful decade I am in the place with the most oxygen on the planet, with the most water reserves of the planet, a singular biodiversity, with thousands of hectares of land available, here there is iron, gold, aluminum, diamonds, granite, electrification project, we are the largest corn granary in the country, we are discovering the culture of our ancestors the indian brothers, I have seen rock formations some of the biggest in the world, "the tepui" I have set out to travel around part of our Amazon region and definitely he who has not visited at least the great savannah is going to die without having seen the most beauty in the world, therefore I ask everyone who loves our precious country, that we stage a hunger strike so they won't touch our reserve and take our natural resources, that they don't take our animals to decorate the gardens of the capitalists in the north or in Europe, I invite you to join me in staging a hunger strike to stop the war in the Arab countries, so that no more children die, and do you know why we must urgently stage a hunger strike because if we don't do it when there is no more oil or water they are going to want to invade us by force because we are the salvation of the world, this is the largest reservoir in the world, it belongs to all the Venezuelans that is why we have to defend what is ours, here you breathe peace, love, happiness, you practice friendship, you share, and you are going to see the most beautiful spots you have ever seen in the world, and my promise is that from here I will defend my homeland with my life, homeland or death, we will prevail. VICTOR JULIO LEON

  • fuomrd | 2011-05-17

    Peru is going down the same path as Venezuela and Brazil

  • jorge nieves | 2011-05-16

    Thats the last thing we needed!! The devil took this country ... $120 billion has come into my country in the 12 years of revolution and the roads, hospitals, personal safety and employment are a disaster..it all went to the devil...where could that money be... here they name the great men of the revolution: Diosdado Cabello, Jesse Chacon, Jose Vicente Rangel, vice president Jaua who fought with Diosdado because of a scuffle, the family of President Chavez and Hugo Chavez himself... who knows what goes on in the world of national life... and someone prove me wrong...shoddy hypocrites and corruption of great depth..!!

  • Luisa T. Carma C. | 2011-05-15

    Regards, friends, with all due respect I am communicating with you through this network regarding the crisis in Venezuela. I agree with what your webpage says, the problem regarding the crisis in Venezuela is not just about Venezuela, as if Venezuela were the only country to exist on the terrestrial plane the crisis is worldwide friend or maybe beyond the world you should know that around the earth there are huge amounts of scrap metal from satellites sent by the great powers as they tend to say great powers, there are big crises even outside earth, I think that is dangerous. The crisis in Venezuela gets turned into a smaller size than anything else. Let me list for you the true crises: every minute thousands of people die, among them male and female teenagers, adults and the elderly, from hunger, from sicknesses that could be cured but because they don't have access to these resources they die because they are too poor, there are more than a billion human beings who are excluded from work, from studies, from the needs they should have as a human being on this earth because they are not given the chance to survive, the ongoing wars and you know the reason for those wars, and above all the huge pollution we have caused to the marvelous work created by the GREAT POWER OF GOD his marvelous and PERFECT work that is the EARTH. I, for example, share in the responsibility because he said when you turn on the air conditioning, I am already polluting my earth, it's as easy as that, when I hit the spray to kill a cockroach I am polluting again and others. Oil pollutes the mines like gold and diamonds pollute the rivers the water we drink all of us human beings. We human beings are polluting everything. I take my leave of you, Luisa T. Carma C.

  • RAFAEL JULIO | 2011-05-15

    Anyone who reads this would think that before we lived in paradise with these negative comments that happen in any country in the world even in the most developed countries all they want to do is level the road for a foreign intervention. Why don't you stress the achievements in education when education here was one of the most backward in the world when going to an orthodontist was a luxury. Why don't you talk about sports when Venezuela's performance is getting better and better in any sport rubbing elbows with the best in the world. But what consumes and blinds people of the opposition like the one who wrote this article the most is their hatred for CHAVEZ rather than their love for VENEZUELA. Where do wonderful things like this happen after 50 years I graduated from the 6th grade in the MISION ROBINSON. and that I am interacting with this medium. THIS IS ONLY POSSIBLE WITHIN THE REVOLUTION.

  • roberto ortiz | 2011-05-15

    12 years in power have put Venezuela considerably behind with respect to development compared to other Latin America countries, in twelve years Chavez still talks about oil as the only resource, in twelve years he has not been able to diversify productivity and Venezuelan exports to allow it to capture capital to modernize his people's quality of life. It is not possible to develop industry, mining, agriculture, communications and services if you are not able to develop and increase the electrical grid. With the tale of Bolivarian socialism all Chavez means to do is take possession of his people's will and their oil to buy weapons and influence and feel powerful, no nation that has taken that path has achieved progress, what makes you think that you Venezuelans will be able to with that imbecile you have in government, push him up to the mountains with the FARC and elect a president that is not only attractive, but who can speak well and represent you and guide you along the path of progress. Regards

  • URSULO JOSEFINO DELFINO CEFERINO | 2011-05-14

    WELL FACED WITH SO MUCH FIGHTING MANUEL ROSALES IS THE SOLUTION I INSIST THAT IF WE VOTE FOR ROSALES THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY WILL GET BETTER HE'LL FIX ELECTRICAL POWER IN A FLASH THE FOOD PROBLEM HE'LL FIX WITH THE MI NEGRA CARD HE WILL RAISE OUR SALARIES THE WAY ENGLAND DOES LET US REMEMBER THAT MANOLO IS A TEACHER, PHILOSOPHER, WITH ADECO, RANCHER AND LANDHOLDER AND MEN LIKE HIM ARE WHAT WE NEED AS PRESIDENT THEREFORE LONG LIVE MANUELITO ROSALES EVEN THOUGH MARGARITA IS AN ISLAND SURROUNDED BY WATER AT LEAST THEY DIDN'T MAKE A MISTAKE.

  • José Rafael | 2011-05-14

    The way the news is presented by the writer of this webpage, with ill intention and bias, it is obvious he is part of the opposition and is looking to confuse readers from other countries. Let's see, the blackouts that were called for, they did not last that long, since they were taken care of before the sun went down. As for the hunger strike that has gone on almost a month, by the bourgeoise students, who would eat at night and take turns striking, and let them deny it since they were filmed and seen on state TV channels. As for the nurses' strike it did not get the support of the association, not because their request was not just, but because the association would not participate in a political show

  • Eduardo Uzcategui | 2011-05-13

    In my view, after analyzing this report, it is rife with yellow journalism and exaggerates, I am Venezuelan, I got an education with a lot of effort, I don't like politics, and I have had to deal with the opposition and with the governments in turn, I have always thought that Venezuela would be solved with everyone working for her and not expecting things to be resolved for them, it is a cultural problem that was instilled in the generations coming up during the last 40 years. I am a mechanical engineer, during my career I have tried to teach and to transmit knowledge to many people, and I continue to do so, I think I add my little grain of sand to the changes for good that I have gotten those people to achieve. I think this report is too exaggerated, and that lies like that one affect every Venezuelan and of course affect Venezuela, which is the land we all must help by always contributing something positive.

  • carlos cavalcanti | 2011-05-08

    God bless all the people of this beautiful country. We here in Brazil are with all of you, who are also our brothers. There is no evil that lasts forever. Stay strong brothers.

  • kimberly | 2011-05-08

    How terrible the people are now upset

  • efrain codina | 2011-05-03

    Real Madrid has won it all and I bet the all millions necessary

  • gladiola | 2011-05-02

    DUPLICATE

  • Gonzalo González | 2011-04-29

    Venezuelan brothers, I have read these news and letters with much sadness...let us pray and be strong to put up with all the evil that goes on in such a beautiful land... Have strength to join together and oppose your terrible leader who does not listen to his people... I am sure he will leave power soon and peace and happiness will come to such a beautiful place as is Venezuela.

  • lila | 2011-04-27

    THESE ARE PURE LIES, IN THE AFTERNOONS THEY GO TO THE PIZZERIA AND PERFORM IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS OF THE CHANNELS BELONGING TO THE OPPOSITION. I LIVE NEARBY AND I HAVE WATCHED AND I AM WITH THE OPPOSITION BUT I DO NOT AGREE WITH PORTRAYING A POOR IMAGE OF MY COUNTRY....

  • luis | 2011-04-26

    As a Venezuelan I feel badly because my family had to leave that beautiful country to give us a better life, and is that what Chávez wants? That the country turned into a desert that no one would want to visit because of the abuses and the outrageous behavior of ill intentioned people "enough" we must think of the future what will become of the country without freedom.

  • zoila ramirez | 2011-04-23

    GOD BLESS MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO ARE NURSES, AND ALSO THOSE WHO GOVERN US, PERSONALITIES IN CHARGE OF OPENING A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE PARTIES THAT WOULD ALLOW CONSENSUAL EXPOSITION OF THE REQUESTS BY THE UNCONDITIONAL HEALTH WORKERS, AND YOU GOVERNING GENTLEMEN, AS PART OF THE SOLUTION, GIVE NOTICE OF WHAT YOU HAVE AGREED TO OFFER, DO NOT WAIT, THE NEXT DAYS PRIOR TO MAY FIRST, TO INCREASE SALARIES A MINIMAL PERCENTAGE, A LONG TIME AGO, SINCE THE RAPID INCREASE IN PRICES OF NECESSARY PRODUCTS, EATS UP THIS PERCENTAGE, BEFORE IT GETS TO OUR HANDS. AND FOR THAT DAY, THE WELLBEING OF THOSE WORTHY WORKERS, VENEZUELAN BROTHERS, WILL HAVE SUFFERED IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGES. IT IS BEAUTIFUL TO MEDIATE, NEGOTIATE, REACH AGREEMENTS, LET US REMEMBER THAT THE CHARGES ARE CIRCUMSTANTIAL, IT IS SO SAD TO SEE THE HEALTH PROVIDERS, GO TO SUCH EXTREMES OF THEIR PHYSICAL INTEGRITY TO ATTAIN THE BENEFITS THEY ARE OWED BY RIGHTS. LEAVE YOUR ARROGANCE, PRIDE ASIDE EMBRACING DIALOGUE IS WHAT MAKES THE MOST SENSE, FOR THE WELFARE OF SO MANY VENEZUELAN FAMILIES WHO HOPE TO SEE THEIR RELATIVES AND POLITICIANS, SOLVING A SITUATION IN A CONCILIATORY WAY, MADAM MINISTER OF DEVELOPMENT AND HEALTH, YOU BE THE ONE WHO IN EVERY MOMENT LEADS THIS ACTION AND YOU WILL BE REMEMBERED HISTORICALLY, AS AN EXEMPLARY WOMAN OF GREAT SOCIAL COMMITMENT, SOLIDARITY, AND HUMAN SENSITIVITY, WHO WAS ABLE TO ACHIEVE, PACIFICALLY, JUST AND DESERVED BENEFITS FOR A TRADE THAT IS SO FUNDAMENTAL TO A COUNTRY. LET US REFLECT IT IS TIME TO END THE HUNGER STRIKE, AND SAVE LIVES. MAY OUR LORD ALWAYS ILLUMINATE YOU WITH HIS DIVINE LIGHT. SINCERELY, ZOILA RAMIREZ. VENEZUELAN CITIZEN

  • richard | 2011-04-21

    Strength brothers there is no evil that lasts a long time the people are going to wake up from the abuses that are committed in this beautiful country

  • pedro jose infante molina | 2011-04-20

    You have to have nerve not to notice what, for years now, the nurses have had to put up with from this blessed country even when they are in the university and the degree is the same for any professional, what bothers me the most is that there are still many Venezuelans who look the other way when we know the hospital we all go to out of necessity because we can't afford another and they, the nurses, are the only ones to welcome us with open arms day or night and they have to work in almost two place up to three to support their family I hope that today, the day of the Nazarene they take pity on them because there is no life with this government (WHAT NERVE, WITH SO MUCH OIL THANK YOU AND MAY GOD FIND YOU AFTER HAVING CONFESSED)

  • dalia pernalete | 2011-04-19

    As a Venezuelan and a mother, I do not agree with the things that happen like this in our country, since we have oil, aluminum iron and other things, I ask the President of the Republic and his Ministers and Congressmen to try to live on a minimum wage salary, so they can feel in their own skin what we feel -- 90% of Venezuelans -- Enough already Mr. President be a bit human and help our nurses who really need it stop giving away houses, oil, clinics and food when there are people in our country who die of hunger or because of a lack of healthcare, it is all in your hands... Sincerely, a Venezuelan woman who tries to survive on 1200 bolívares.