Venezuela power outages are creating a humanitarian crisis. Forget the politics for a moment. This is a country on the brink of Mad Max societal collapse. Let’s all try to figure out how we can help Venezuelans.
The biggest problem is that the turbines failed at the ginormous hydropower Guri Dam in Venezuela. The country cannot make up that power elsewhere. The result has been nationwide power outages for several days now. There is no end in sight. Every time they try to restart Guri it destabilizes the grid even further and another substation catches fire.
Caracas is directly affected. Communications, traffic lights, transportation are all affected. Even worse, water systems cannot operate without reliable electricity. A widely circulated video shows people in Caracas getting water from a sewage drainage pipe because there is no water elsewhere. This is desperation.
Electrical and water systems crash fast. Rebooting them can take a very long time, especially when there’s been physical damage due to years of neglect, substandard maintenance, and corruption. Right now, the Maduro regime probably doesn’t want to let anyone near Guri for fear it will make them look bad. But without world-class construction and engineering teams there, the turbines will continue to malfunction. The main power lines also need major repair. This will take a while to fix. However the first step is to let in anyone who can help. The alternative is to watch a country crater.
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.
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.