“It’s a real tragedy, we are truly going through a catastrophic situation”, Archbishop José Luis Azuaje, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela and of Caritas Latin America, told SIR news agency. In the last few days the prelate, who is currently in Austria to attend an international conference, has been supporting his people through this dreadful ordeal. Asked about the situation in Maracaibo city, the second largest in the country, which more than other cities has suffered due to the power outages that have plagued Venezuela in the month of March, the archbishop said: “It is no surprise that Maracaibo, the country’s first oil centre, is the city most affected by this power crisis; this is largely due to a lack of maintenance on its power lines. The first five consecutive days of power cuts have caused lack of water, the deterioration of perishable foods, disruptions in public transport linked to fuel shortages, and various victims in hospitals, since auxiliary power units failed to work. A reason for great concern has been the systematic looting of shops by groups of people who, disregarding their duties as citizens, broke the doors and windows to steal anything they could. And small retailers, who were only able to open their small businesses with great efforts, are now going bust. Irrationality prevailed over ethics and respect for the rules”.
But the biggest problem was that “people eventually decided to break into the shops because they had been left without food and water for so many days, with children and old people suffering from hunger”. In the following days, however, there was nothing left to buy. After this traumatic experience, the lights would repeatedly go off and on, until a second power outage paralysed the city, particularly institutions and production activities”.