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Solidarity, survival and sabotage: reconstructing the history of the blackouts tormenting Venezuela

While Venezuela’s government and the Chavista movement proclaimed victory over the worst blackouts to plague the country, Washington’s coup masters have promised more darkness until their goals are complete.

by Misión Verdad

Part 7 - Solidarity and communal strength: the people pool together

The magnitude of the electric attack would have resulted in a total collapse of Venezuela and its society, realizing the “failed state” label that Washington evokes constantly to justify direct military aggression.

But throughout Venezuela, the population rejected impulses to surrender to anguish, relying on family and community structures to address their needs. Resistance and community are constant themes in the culture of Chavismo, however, it is notable that despite calls to turn to violent protest, most opposition supporters stayed home – a tactic rejection of Guaidó’s divisive appeals.

In the barrios and countryside across the country, firewood was used to cook food, while neighbors scouted nearby areas for drinking water. Using cars only to make emergency trips and charge cellphones, communities were able to stay in touch and keep their members informed about the progress with respect to the restoration of the power supply.

The previous work of the Committees of Local Supply and Production (CLAP) was also a highlight. This organization was established to provide food at low cost to over six million citizens. In some states the distribution of food and domestic gas continued even with all communications cut off.

The CLAP program has complete records of the populations they support. It has served as a support network with a comprehensive map of the strongest and weakest areas, allowing each community to act according to its needs. Thanks to CLAP, government was able to maximize its effectiveness during the blackout by targeting the communities with the greatest needs.

Other organized groups accompanied the state with the smaller tasks to support the most vulnerable. One example took place at the JM de los Ríos Hospital, where in addition to guaranteeing medical attention to the hospitalized children. There, they were visited by artists who provided hours of healthy entertainment in the midst of the uncertainty and helping stave off fear.

The civic-military union that forms the linchpin of the Bolivarian Revolution was also at the heart of the counterattack. Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López highlighted the deployment of different elements of the Bolivarian National Armed Force to restore basic services and protect the Venezuelan population.

Instead of intimidating citizens accustomed to being locked in their homes lit with televisions and computers, the blackout served as an opportunity to improvise community activities, exchange ideas to protect food, and share information about medical care locations, commercial options and functional pharmacies.

Each community’s story of persisting through the blackout paints a broader portrait of a society that has been shaped by the culture of Chavismo, where popular participation is seen as the most precious feature of the Venezuelan identity.

It was this feature of Venezuelan society that enabled it to effectively resist the most prolonged and massive attack on its infrastructure since the dawn of the Bolivarian Revolution. And it contrasted sharply with the negative solutions spun out of the “entrepreneurship” sector, which chose to privatize services during such a critical time, exploiting citizens in need by selling ice, water, candles and electricity supply in foreign currency.

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