Like a Silent Plague

For Caridad

HAVANA TIMES – Like a silent plague, one of those that began in the Middle Ages without people really understanding what was happening, blackouts have returned in Venezuela.

Not that power outages had died out, like the huge reptiles of the past. Power cuts were always sticking their heads out of our windows, to see what we were doing, to stop us from finishing it. But since the two great “blackouts” occurred in Venezuela, in 2019, which were then maintained by electricity rationing for a couple of more years, we could say that we had another couple of years of some calm in terms of that matter of living in the dark.

Things have changed a bit since 2019. Four years ago gas service was total chaos. For those of us who live outside the capital, obtaining a 10kg gas canister was practically a dream, or let’s say better, a nightmare. If we could buy one or two a year, it was a miracle. So most of us relied on electric stoves, and with the continuous and prolonged power outages cooking and eating was also considered another great miracle.

Well, I will not lengthen the list of misfortunes that a country in the dark entails.

Although my memory is not very good at counting time, I can almost assure you that we had two years of relative calm. The gas service improved significantly, and the blackouts were reduced to perhaps one a month or every couple of months. So we were able to cook with gas and work what the internet service allowed us (the internet and the shameless charges from the national company is another tremendous story).

In the year 2023 several things have been happening in Venezuela.

The most striking of these is the arrest and prosecution for corruption and embezzlement of more than fifty officials and associates of the Maduro government, a case known as “PDVSA-Cripto”, which involves the state-owned company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. and the National Superintendence of Cryptoactives and Related Activities (Sunacrip). Most of those accused are directly linked to the oil minister, Tareck el Aissami.

Mr. Tareck is not just any minister, and the fact that he is in charge of the greatest wealth in Venezuela says a lot, Minister Tareck was a right-hand man, he was the beloved disciple of President Maduro. Although those under his command have been prosecuted, not even an arrest warrant has been issued for the minister primarily responsible for the “loss” of more than $300 million. I want to clarify that this amount is what the government has offered to public opinion, but we already know that the amount embezzled by this minister and those who govern the country far exceeds it.

To this news, which occurred during the months of March and April, is added the death of two of the defendants, one of them in circumstances that showed torture. The president issues an alert to the repressive forces to double the rigor, because it is evident that what has led him to act against his beloved disciple, are not the acts of embezzlement and corruption, but the intentions of the oil minister to take the political power of the country. It is an open secret.

And in the midst of all this, the price of the deteriorated public services rise every day and the no longer so silent plague of blackouts makes itself felt.

While power outages occur outside of Caracas, they don’t attract much attention, but when the city begins to go dark, alarm bells go off.

Amid the humid heat of this time of the year, favorable for mosquitoes, blackouts become the perfect silencer for a society that once again feels chills just imagining spending a week or two again with a country completely in the dark. Little by little, people will stop talking about Tareck el Aissami, about those tortured so that they talk or don’t talk too much; about the struggle of the teachers and the establishment of “strikebreaking teachers” who are nothing more than high school students taking the place of the real teachers; or the new wave of inflation that barely allows us to breathe.

Read more from Caridad here on Havana Times


Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.