Known as Republic of Venezuela from 1953 to 1999 and thereafter as Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Latin America nation is one of the most urbanized in the region with vast majority of people living in cities. Following discovery of oil in early 20th century the country now has largest known oil reserves in the world. It is one of the leading exporters of oil and the sector dominates government revenues.
Once being a wealthy country, Venezuela is lately suffering from hyperinflation. Shortages of medicines and food have become usual in recent years. Following taking office for the second term President Nicolas Maduro is being widely blamed by opposition and United States for poor policies.
Venezuelan economic crisis
In early 2013 Maduro devalued Venezuelan currency due to rising shortages of necessities. In 2016 prices rose by 800 percent and economy graph took southward direction by 18.6 percent. In 2018 the country’s inflation rate was projected to 1,000,000 percent, a situation which was very similar to Zimbabwe in late 2000s and Germany in 1923.
A report by International Monetary Fund reveals hyperinflation in Venezuela could reach 10 million percent in 2019. Since 2015 about 2.7 million Venezuelan have left the country.
Venezuela and United States
United States is seeking to remove Nicolas Maduro from office considering Juan Guaido from the opposition as legitimate leader.
Power struggle between the two leaders has continued for past couple of months and amid such situation blame game has begun. Maduro calls Guaido as puppet of United States while the opposition leader is blaming the government for economic crisis and all the sufferings in the country.
Amid such power combat the sufferings of Venezuelan have worsen lately. The country is left without power for the fifth day. On Thursday afternoon almost all the states were hit by blackout.
Juan Guaido claims about $400-million has been lost in private sector due to power cut. He compared the blackout days with Vargas tragedy in 1999 and said it is even worse. Criticizing the military high command he said Venezuela has enough megawatts of power to revert blackout, but the negligence and corruption of government have led the equipment out of order, non-functioning.
Nationwide power blackout is getting more desperate and it has hit the health segment hardest. Doctors in hospitals have lately been reduced to use flashlight for performing emergency surgeries. Talking to the CBS News via Skype Doctor Luis Fernandez from Caracas said a pregnant lady lost her baby and she is now in critical condition. Her pregnancy was of high-risk and everything was conducted using flashlight.
A severely malnourished 19-year-old girl was forced by hospitals to turn her away due to massive blackout and shut down of facilities. She died in her mother’s arms. The heartbroken mother carried the body throughout darkened streets to a local morgue. Due to poor economic situation she didn’t reclaim the body for a proper burial service.
A doctor at Hospital Vargas in the West of the city said difficult conditions have become even worse with the power cut. The intensive care and emergencies are now relying on petrol-fuelled generators.
Reports from several hospitals emerge of generators failing and patients being ventilated by hand.
Usually public hospitals have generators to provide to keep facilities functioning during power cuts, but doctors said those equipments are either damaged or lying idle due to lack of fuel.
Security cameras are out of order with no surveillance amid pitch darkness. Thieves broke out into Jardin’s store stealing computers, printers, cash register and electronic payment terminal.
The airport in capital Caracas is barely functioning. It is uncertain how much time the authorities need to fix the blackout crisis.
Residents in most parts of the country said their water pumps have stopped working and they are now out in search of water.
Meanwhile, amid ongoing blackout opposition leader Juan Guaido has called international community to force Maduro stop supplying Cuba with oil. He wants the support enforce ban.
Cuba is enabler of Maduro’s repression. If the oil is cut, Cuba’s economy will grind to a halt.
United States has asked India to stop purchasing oil from the illegitimate regime of Maduro. Similar warning has also been issued to other nations. International banks have been asked to stop keeping relationship with Maduro regime.
With the ongoing blackout Venezuelans are facing communications outage too. Phones and Internet have stopped working in several parts of the country.
According to internet monitoring organization NetBlocks much of the country’s internet went down during the power outage. It was one of the largest network collapses.
NetBlocks executive director Alp Toker said internet connectivity in the country had bottomed and was hovering around 5 percent of normal activity.
He added, “We’ve seen fairly large power disruptions before, often covering entire regions, but this is extremely rare, not just for Latin America but on a global scale.”
Both President Maduro and opposition leader Guaido held rallies separately amid ongoing blackout lately. Maduro insisted the power grid had been hacked and sabotaged.
Guaido on the other hand urged supporters Maduro should be sent out of office to end such sufferings.
He said, “We have been reporting the electrical crisis for years, and now, we have to alert in a responsible manner that this could also become the gasoline crisis, in addition to the water crisis we already have.”
Maduro said the first thing to do is to get rid of traitors and infiltrators from the power company. He criticized Guaido’s calls for a military intervention in the country.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, “The power outage and the devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans is not because of the USA. It’s not because of Colombia. It’s not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else. Power shortages and starvation are the result of the Maduro regime’s incompetence.”
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