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Seven Images that Capture How Venezuela Is Falling Apart

By: Pedro García Otero - Oct 24, 2016, 9:24 am
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Venezuela has ceased to be a democracy. (Twitter)

The crisis in Venezuela is gigantic: the country is mired in an economic collapse, and follows virtually no standard rule of law. The government is blocking any hope for the recall of President Nicolás Maduro and people wait in long lines for food each day.

Yet not everyone believes in or understands the seriousness of the country’s situation. Here are seven photos that should make it clear:

Here are seven photos that show the seriousness of the Venezuelan situation.

1) Armed Policeman intercepted the president of the National Assembly

A municipal policeman points a gun at the car of Henry Ramos, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly.(Notitotal)

On Saturday, October 9, President of the National Assembly Henry Ramos Allup was going to the city of Anaco in eastern Venezuela when the Mayor Marcos Ramos ordered the municipal police to deny his entry, drawing weapons in the process.

It was not because Ramos Allup was peddling drugs, or because he had committed a robbery. It was simply because he attempted to enter a municipality whose mayor is a “Chavista.”

In other words, they pointed a gun at him for being an opponent to the current adminstration. Can life be any more dictatorial in Venezuela?

Ramos Allup did, though, eventually enter the city.

2) A ferry sinks

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The Carmen Ernestina ferry. (PanAm Post)

Conferry’s Carmen Ernestina ferry sank at the pier of Puerto La Cruz.

Conferry was a private monopoly of maritime transport between that city and the island of Margarita, the main tourist destination in Venezuela. In 2009, it became state-owned.

The authorities gave various explanations for the sinking. Carlos Mata Figueroa, Governor of Nueva Esparta, it happened due to “changes in the pressure of the sea because of Hurricane Matthew, which affected a fissure in the ferry.” He further said that the ship had already reached the end of its lifespan.

However, Venezuela’s Federation of Professional Associations of Tourism has a very different perspective on the issue.

They said that the Carmen Ernestina had only lived out half of its lifetime. It certainly seems like a fairly modern ferry, especially for sailing in calm waters such as those between Puerto La Cruz and Margarita. The agency asked the Comptroller’s Commission of the National Assembly to investigate the incident, because “after seven years of La Nueva Conferry’s administration, we are losing a ship that cost the nation US $40 million due to the irresponsibility of the administrative agency.”

These ferries have been a source of longstanding corruption. Hebert García Plaza, former Senior Officer of Nicolás Maduro’s administration, is currently exiled for buying used ferries as if they were new.

As the Federation of Tourism has asserted, Conferry has shrunk from 20,000 transport agencies to Margarita to less than 2,000. The collapse of Carmen Ernestina meant 2,000 less jobs. Moreover, the institution warned that it is a better deal for the corrupt to buy new ferries than to repair existing ones.

3) Venezuela imports almost all its gas

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Long lines to buy gasoline across the country. (Paramacaibo)

Gasoline has begun to run out throughout the country. The government first ignored the complaints, but then it had no choice but to respond.

Who is to blame for the lack of gasoline in Venezuela? … Hurricane Matthew, again! It turns out that PDVSA announced that because of the hurricane, they could not import enough fuel to satisfy the Venezuelan market.

With this announcement, we found out that 80 percent of the gasoline Venezuelans consume has to come from other countries.

Venezuela has a big refining capacity, which includes Amuay, the world’s biggest oil refinery complex. In 2012, Amuay exploded under circumstances that remain unclear, resulting in 55 fatalities. Today, from the four plants the country has, only the one located to the east is operational, and works at half of its capacity.

PDVSA is making a ruinous business of its biggest asset: Super gasoline, to be delivered in November, is approximately at US $0.50. In the domestic market, Super is sold at $0.006 (6 tenths of a penny).

4) More and more people eat from the garbage

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Every day, hundreds of people in Caracas dig through the garbage looking for food. (DíaDía Venezuela)

The food crisis in the country has no end in sight, and local industrial production is only 40 percent of its installed capacity because of controls imposed on the economy.

The long lines to buy food have continued to grow, as well as the number of people who find themselves obliged to eat from the garbage.

They are not necessarily homeless. More and more working people, who do not have enough money to eat have done it out of necessity.

5) Prisoners die of tuberculosis, among so many other thigns

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Self-kidnappings are happening at the General Penitentiary of Venezuela.

There have been self-kidnappings at the General Penitentiary of Venezuela for some time now.

In this prison, at least seven inmates have died of tuberculosis. Across the country, at least seven other prisoners have died in jail as a result of malnutrition.

A particularly serious case occured in the state of Táchira: prisoners dismembered a fellow inmate, then ate him.

It seems the cannibal is Dorangel Vargas, known throughout the ’90s as “the man-eater of San Cristóbal.” This information is yet to be verified.

6) Legislators cannot do their job because they do not receive their salaries

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Nicolás Maduro has suffocated the National Assembly.

Nicolás Maduro has suffocated the National Assembly, the only independent political branch in the country.

Last Tuesday, the legislators had to break a parliamentary quorum because most of the assembly members lived in the interior of the country and had no way to travel to the Parliament in Caracas.

Maduro has argued to the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) that the Assembly is in “contempt” because it allowed a group of legislators from Amazonas to occupy their seats. According to the TSJ, the latter committed electoral fraud, so the body dismissed them.

Maduro announced that he would not give any resources to Parliament two months ago. He has reportedly not paid them since January.

According to the Caracas newspaper El Nacional, Maduro had been “strangling” the National Assembly financially long before its alleged actions that led it to be held in contempt.

7) Maduro, increasingly isolated, looks forward to joining the Putin-Erdogan squad

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Maduro is traveling the world while his country falls apart.

While Venezuela was literally falling apart with no gas, Nicolás Maduro was traveling to Turkey.

He will participate in a so-called “World Energy Summit,” and is reportedly going to ask Russia to continue financing his disaster, as well as to lower oil prices.

Maduro also reportedly expects to speak with Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, the latest Asian coup leader, who the Venezuelan president once said “would be left like a suckling baby” if evicted from power.

That is no small statement, considering the thousands of arrests and dismissals that Erdogan conducted after what is universally considered to have been a “self-coup” to trigger repression.

The point is that Maduro is desperately seeking to join the Putin-Erdogan club: increasingly isolated internationally, almost an outcast to the inter-American community — the world is becoming too small for the Venezuelan president.

Pedro García Otero Pedro García Otero

Pedro García is the Spanish managing editor of the PanAm Post. He is a Venezuelan journalist with over 25 years of experience in local newspapers, radio, television, and online media. Follow him @PedroGarciaO.