September 18, 2019
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With electricity, gasoline, Caracas is oasis of sorts amid Venezuelan crisis

By Hector Pereira

Caracas, May 22 (efe-epa).- In the Venezuelan capital, thousands of people spend hours in lines under the blazing Caribbean sun to buy a little food at subsidized prices or a space in the few public transportation vehicles plying the streets.

Although it may not seem like it, Caracas residents are some of the fortunate ones.

They've got gasoline and electricity.

Caracas - with its six million residents - is the only area of Venezuela where electricity service is not interrupted on a daily basis like it has been for the past two months elsewhere in the country. And most of the gasoline stations are operating without any problems, despite the scarcity of fuel that is affecting millions in Venezuela's interior.

People have long said that Caracas is in a kind of "bubble" but the whirlwind of the current national crisis that has resulted in relative stability in public services in the capital has led the more than 20 million citizens in the country's other 23 states to view the local residents with anger and envy.

While in relatively remote regions like Zulia and Tachira, on the border with Colombia, there are daily power blackouts lasting up to 20 hours, there are no such problems in Caracas since the government declared the electricity crisis to be resolved in March and implemented nationwide electricity rationing - except in the capital.

The same game is being played with fuel availability, with the citizens in at least half the country finding themselves forced to wait for hours and sometimes more than a day at gasoline stations to buy fuel for their vehicles.

There are haves and have nots for potable water, too - the haves in the capital and the have nots elsewhere, although most people outside Caracas can find a certain amount of drinkable water from broken pipes or from saving rainwater.

The power blackouts around the country are making telecommunications iffy and have led to the closure of banks, schools and shopping centers and to a paralysis in all sorts of daily activities.

Consequently, when someone joins a gas station line and waits for 10 hours to buy fuel they may well find that the power will go out - making it impossible to pump the gas - and they will have wasted their effort and time.

A Caracas resident, however, needs just five minutes to buy gasoline and he or she can also eat out at a restaurant or go to the movies, details of daily life that - because of the blackouts - have been erased from the lives of Venezuelans in the rest of the country.

Capital residents, however, are far from seeing the glass as half full, since they do have to queue up at banks to withdraw their daily limit of $1 or $2 to be able to pay for the bus, which they can ride after waiting for a time at the local bus stops.

People in the capital complain about the situation, even though they know that life elsewhere in Venezuela is lots worse.

"It's bad (in Zulia), the ticket is more expensive," Genesis Mendoza told EFE while she waited along with more than 100 other people in downtown Caracas to catch a bus home.

The 20-year-old worker said that all public services are in crisis, adding that Caracas has not managed to avoid that problem.

"It isn't the same any longer. Before it was better, now there's more disorder," she said.

Like her, others tell about their problems as if they were the worst of anyone's and speak about Caracas as if they were living in hell, although it's actually a relative paradise.

Amid the turmoil, whether in Caracas or elsewhere, President Nicolas Maduro - who has the final say-so regarding the public's access to gasoline, electricity and potable water - is blaming the opposition and foreign governments for Venezuela's problems.

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