If You Pay or Not, I’ll Cut Off Your Electricity

A big march into nothing.

HAVANA TIMES – Hours without electricity continue to increase, along with the heat. Forest fires, common at this time of year, pollute the air and light. Both in Caracas and in most states of Venezuela, a kind of misty blanket obscures the view and hinders breathing.

One wakes up and the first thing you do is check if the electricity has been cut off. If not, immediately, you calculate how many minutes may be left until the cut-off. Because the company ensures complete ignorance regarding the timing of power outages. One will never know when they will cut the power, let alone when they will restore it. Yes, we can make many bets while the few refrigerated foods go bad, and while we wait for the power to be able to work or carry out any errands.

In my case, for example, to earn a living, we offer copying and printing services. Since we live in a sector far from the city center, there are very few offers in the vicinity. I could say that the business is enough to pay for water, internet, and some food… but only when there are fewer power outages. If, for example, the power goes out at 9 in the morning, it may be restored around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. If it goes out around 11 in the morning, then it may come back around 5 or 6. What production can a country have where most of the working hours have no electricity?

Especially because there is no planning, no one informs about what is happening, no one takes responsibility for the household appliances that are damaged by the high voltage surges that are common. This happens because during the hours when the service is maintained, it is not stable: the intensity fluctuates as if the entire Venezuela were a discotheque. And I want to clarify that the state where I live does not take the prize for the most affected, because in Zulia, Táchira, and Mérida, the blackouts last for more hours.

Even so, the CORPOELEC minister, better known as the minister of iguanas (because he used to blame these noble animals for causing disasters in the towers and electrical wiring), threatens to cut off the service to anyone who is not up to date with payment of the tariffs. Not only that, but he implemented a plan called “Borron y Cuenta Nueva” (Clean slate) in which people are forced to pay $30 and go through a cumbersome bureaucratic process to avoid being charged a dollarized rate in the coming months.

If we consider that, officially, the minimum wage is around US $3 or $4 (the rest for minimal subsistence comes through government “bonuses” and remittances from abroad), imposing that $30 payment as a kind of fine, regardless of whether the owners were up to date with their payments to the electric company, is a mockery.

They argue that millions of dollars are needed to recover everything damaged in the electric company, and there is talk of privatizing the service. And I can’t even bet that the money they are taking from the people is really for improving the service. In fact, I can assure you that, as has been happening in all these years of chavismo-madurismo, that money will go to feed the bank accounts abroad that the Venezuelan ministers have. And it’s not something I made up out of thin air: every so often in Venezuela, a group of scapegoats comes to light, ministers, military personnel, businessmen linked to the government, who are declared guilty of million-dollar thefts.

It’s no wonder Venezuela is at the top of the list of the most corrupt countries in the world.

But they say we are the culprits, for not paying the electricity bill on time.

Read more from Caridad’s diary from Venezuela here on Havana Times.