Venezuela is in the midst of a massive political crisis that’s rocking the impoverished country. And now, adding insult to injury, it’s suffering a nationwide blackout that has potentially led to more than 20 deaths.
Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years due to the crippling economic downturn — a crisis largely caused by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s mishandling of the economy. Inflation is through the roof. Hunger rates have skyrocketed. And diseases once thought eradicated have sparked a health disaster.
All of this makes the Venezuela rolling blackout even more devastating. Already, people are drinking water from the heavily polluted river in the capital, Caracas. Long lines have formed at gas stations, which is especially unfortunate considering that Venezuela has one of the world’s largest oil reserves.
Since the blackout began last week, Venezuelans have remarked about how dark and quiet everything is. “You feel a profound silence all around you,” Alejandro Guzmán, a 26-year-old lawyer, told the Guardian on Sunday. “It’s like a city of shadows.”
Others have noted the immense tragedy of the situation. “None of us have ever lived through something like this — not my generation, not my parents, not my grandmother,” Anna Ferrera, a student from Caracas told the Guardian on Monday. “They say this is like living in a war.”
Here are some images showing what life in parts of Venezuela looks like today.
The five-day blackout has affected about 70 percent of the country, and even plunged large cities — like the capital, Caracas — into darkness.
President Maduro’s opponents say at least 20 people have died during the blackouts. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the US recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, said Sunday that the regime had committed “murder,” partly because “there is no service in the hospitals.”
Venezuela is already one of the world’s most economically devastated countries, with inflation currently more than 1 million percent. Most food and medicine are too expensive for people to purchase. The blackout only makes the situation worse.
The river in Caracas is heavily polluted, but it’s one of the only reliable sources of flowing water during the power outage.
President Maduro says the US is to blame for the blackouts, calling it a “power war announced and directed by US imperialism,” due to sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry. Others say the lights are out because of Maduro’s mismanagement of the economy.
Both Maduro and Guaidó are holding dueling rallies on Tuesday. Guaidó said he will call a “state of national emergency,” while Maduro vowed to fix the problem “little by little.”
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