As Venezuela’s five-day power blackout left homes without water, Lilibeth Tejedor found herself looking for it on Monday in the last place she would have imagined – a drain pipe feeding into a river carrying sewage through the capital, Caracas.
Tejedor, 28, joined dozens of people who had flocked to the Guaire river, which snakes along the bottom of a sharp ravine alongside Caracas’ main highway, to fill up a four-gallon (15 liter) plastic container.
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) March 11, 2019
Unlike the fetid liquid flowing through the Guaire river, the water emerging from the pipe was at least clear. Those who gathered to collect it said the water had been released by local authorities from reservoirs.
They added, however, that it was being carried through unsanitary pipes and should only be used to flush toilets or scrub floors.
“I’ve never even seen this before. It’s horrible, horrible,” said Tejedor, preparing to carry the container on a small hand cart back to her home in the neighborhood of San Agustin.
Tejedor, who works at a computer technology store, has a two-year-old daughter and takes care of two nieces.
Severely malnourished girl, 19, dies in mother’s arms after doctors in Venezuela were forced to turn her away https://t.co/DdfVhygfdo
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 11, 2019
“The ones that are most affected are the children, because how do you tell a child that there’s no water?” she said.
The lack of water has become one of the most excruciating side effects of the nationwide blackout that the government of President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on U.S.-backed sabotage but his critics call the product of corruption and incompetence.
The blackout has worsened the situation of a country already facing a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has spurred a mass migration and turned once-basic items like corn flour and toilet paper into unaffordable luxuries for most people.
After five days without electricity to pump water, Venezuelans from working-class neighborhoods to upscale apartment towers are complaining of increasingly infrequent showers, unwashed dishes, and stinking toilets.
The bicentenario bank in Merida was looted, people left the Venezuelan bolivars behind and left the money on the street and set fire to piles of Venezuelan bolivars to prove its worthless #Venezuela #SinLuz pic.twitter.com/YJlT2qFPrY
— CNW (@ConflictsW) March 11, 2019
Caracas needs 20,000 liters of water per second from nearby watersheds to maintain service, said Jose de Viana, an engineer who ran Caracas’ municipal water authority in the 1990s.
Last week that had fallen to around 13,000 and since Thursday’s blackout it has halted completely, he said.
Maduro’s mismanagement and corruption has driven Venezuela into absolute suffering and collapse. The military should embrace Interim President Guaido’s sincere amnesty proposal, seize the opportunity for U.S. sanctions relief, and work towards democracy and reconstruction.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) March 11, 2019
U.S. sanctions Russian bank over dealings with Venezuela state oil firm https://t.co/RhhT2TK0WB pic.twitter.com/GSHGWQjfG4
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 11, 2019
#MaduroCrimeFamily isn’t a government. It is a mafia. A transnational criminal organization.
The misery & suffering of #Venezuela people will not move them.
The only thing that will is losing the benefits drug trafficking & corruption provides them & their families.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 11, 2019
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