Postcard from the Provinces

Another day inspires another adventurous chapter in our very own Odyssey.  

Daily life here in Acarigua has become one of navigating multiple crises.  We search for bottled gas, struggle to buy truckloads of water and regularly spend hours or even days in lines to fill our cars with gasoline.  When we get home, we can expect to confront electricity rationing.  My family is fortunate to be on the same electric lines that feed the local hospital so our cuts are minimal.  But others face as many as 4 hours a day or more of power rationing.  All of this is happening as Venezuelans weather the Coronavirus pandemic that demands individuals and families stay confined. As shoppers line up outside a grocery store to buy food, most are wearing masks. But social distancing isn’t adhered to as much as it should be. Acarigua was the most vibrant city of Portuguesa state a few decades ago.  Located in the central western countryside of Venezuela, about 4 hours overland from Caracas, it has long been known for its agriculture and livestock. These days, I stroll the sidewalk along Avenida Libertador and see the change in my city of more than 200,000 people.  It is hot and humid in the summer months, but we are used to that.  Everywhere I turn I can see how things have been altered by our politics, economics and, of course, the pandemic.

Venezuela: Where Life is Chaos

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro remains entrenched in Caracas despite more than 6 years of U.S. sanctions. Mr. Maduro sells off the nation’s vast oil and gold resources to reward loyalists, exploits the splintered opposition, and benefits from economic and diplomatic support from Russia, China, Iran, and other countries.

Meantime, Venezuela’s 30 million people are suffering through the worst economic crisis in a century. An estimated 5 million have fled the country. Those who remain face shortages of food, fuel, clean water and a viable healthcare system in the era of coronavirus. Incomes have been obliterated by mismanagement, corruption and hyperinflation.