Venezuela’s Power Outage As Social And Political Crisis

The power outages in Venezuela have been an ongoing occurrence since 2007. The most recent of which began on the 8th of March. With power not restored, the blackouts are causing a national crisis. The San Geronimo B substation in the centre of the country, which supplies electricity to four out of five Venezuelans from the Guri hydropower plant is no longer supplying power to the country.

As a consequence, people have become desperate. Looting has become widespread and hospitals are without electricity to power vital equipment. No single cause has been identified for the countrywide blackouts and a finger-pointing game has emerged to blame different political leaders. Whilst leader Nicolas Maduro has suggested that it was the fault of the ‘imperialist’ United States government, his opponent for the leadership in Venezuela, Juan Guaidó has instead blamed Maduro.

The non-government organization, Prepare Family, tweeted that as a result of the blackout, ‘babies in neonatal therapy, children with chronic, hospitalized pathologies, those receiving hemodialysis and chemotherapy, are those who live the impact of the blackout that the country’s public hospitals live in, their right to life and health is violated.’ With nearly 90% of the country living below the poverty line and more than half of families unable to feed themselves, the blackouts add to the crisis and now, as activist Francisco Valencia stated, the Venezuelan people are “living in a humanitarian crisis.” The crisis has created the largest exodus in Latin American history. Over three million people have fled the country since 2014, and it is expected to reach 5.3 million by the end of 2019, according to the UN estimations.

The power outage is another example of the growing humanitarian issue emerging from the once political issue in Venezuela. Aid is being prevented from entering the country because Maduro believes that the country has “never been, nor are we, a country of beggars” as reported by the BBC. However, reports from alternative news sources such as the Representative Press suggest that the crisis is not as major as the larger news outlets report. Yet, the issue with the media is that there are few reports coming from inside the country. There remains an underlying idea that the U.S. has exasperated the situation in an attempt to find a way into the oil economy in the country.

The political issues in Venezuela started after the death of the socialist President Hugo Chávez in 2013 and the subsequent election of Nicholas Maduro. The most recent cause of the unrest in the country is due to the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro in January, after defeating political opponent Juan Guaidó, who claims the election was rigged. As a result, the leader of Venezuela is disputed by its own people. Hyperinflation has been caused by a drop in oil production, with 95% of the country’s revenue relying on oil. Venezuela is at a near breaking point economically, socially and politically, possibly because of Western involvement or because of its leadership.

The political crisis is intensifying in Venezuela, with the disputed leadership, protests, the anger of the people and lack of resources for the 31.5 million people it is apparent that the country and its people are at an intense moment in their history. Instead of focusing on the political repercussions it is ultimately the people of the country who are suffering, and the media have played into this role. It is important to ensure the social is distinguished from the political aspects that are characteristic to Venezuela.