‘We call it survival’: Venezuelans improvise solutions as blackout continues

With the crisis in its sixth day, neighbors are sharing generators, contraband supplies and skills for survival

At a street corner in eastern Caracas, Rosa Elena stepped from her car and started picking handfuls of leaves from a modest tree growing at the roadside.


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    This is neem, she said. Its high in sugar and great in a tea.

    Her interest was more than academic: Rosa Elena is diabetic, and when the lights went out in Venezuela last Thursday, she began to worry that the blackout would ruin her insulin supply, which must be kept refrigerated.

    Since then she has been making rounds of the city, stockpiling neem leaves, which some people believe can be used to control diabetes.

    Joe Parkin Daniels (@joeparkdan)

    Rosa is diabetic. Worried about ruined insulin (which must be refrigeriated) #sin luz she is collecting neem plants, high in sugar. #Caracas pic.twitter.com/eJW65J2TAk

    March 11, 2019

    As a crippling blackout drags into a sixth day, Venezuelans are being forced to improvise solutions for a crisis that is affecting every aspect of daily life.

    Although there is intermittent power in the capital, some neighbourhoods have been in the dark since last week, and schools and businesses will remain closed on Tuesday.

    Food has rotted in refrigerators, hospitals have struggled to keep equipment operating, and people gather on street corners to pick up patchy telephone signals.

    At Residencias Karina, an apartment complex in the south-eastern municipality of Baruta the power was still off on Monday evening, and residents had come together to share expertise and survival tactics.

    One elderly resident has lent his generator to the operation, with cables running up the side of the red-brick building into a flat where neighbours charge their phones. To stop the device overheating or getting rained out, they have fashioned a cover out of cardboard and tarpaulin.

    In ordinary times, petrol is practically free in Venezuela, due to government subsidies. But power cuts have put many pumps out of action, and fuel is hard to come by. It is illegal to fill jerry cans at petrol stations, so people are often forced to resort to the black market to obtain fuel for generators.

    The government calls it contraband we call it survival, said Carolina, one resident who preferred not to give her surname for fear of reprisals.

    Members
    Members of the Bolivarian National Police escort a tanker as they help organize the distribution of drinking water to residents of San Agustin neighbourhood in Caracas on March 11, 2019, while a massive power outage continues affecting parts of the country. Photograph: Yuri Cortz/AFP/Getty Images

    Another neighbour, Pedro Martnez, was once a farmer in the countrys vast western plains, and has brought his own unique skillset to the team.

    Im a campesino, he said. I dont know about phones and I can live without them. But I do know how to salt meat. Martnez has been turning the residents supplies of beef into jerky, so food supplies can last longer. The chicken and the fish people had is already rotten, he said.

    Late on Sunday night, the housing complex was rocked by a string of explosions after an electrical substation caught fire in circumstances which remain unexplained.

    It sounded like a plane taking off, said Carolina, as the stench of burnt plastic drifted across from the smouldering power plant.

    The explosion added to a sense of desperation in a neighbourhood that had already seen outbreaks of looting. Residents have mounted lookouts to warn of the government security forces and paramilitary gangs called colectivos, who they fear will take down their jerry-rigged infrastructure.

    Christian G.V (@ChrisPrensa)

    Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

     


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