Reduced agricultural production and dark healthcare centers: consequences of blackouts in the Venezuelan plains

Reduced agricultural production and dark healthcare centers: consequences of blackouts in the Venezuelan plains

In the Biruaca – Achaguas axis in Apure State, work depends on electrical pumps and up to two days may pass without electricity


The states of Apure, Barinas and Guárico do not escape the constant power cuts, which are part of what Corpoelec calls the “Load Management Plan” (PAC), but which in reality is electricity rationing applied in an improvised and haphazard manner.

By Correspondent

In the plains region, power outages have become a threat to the agricultural sector, as well as to those patients who are left in darkened hospitals.

Power outages and frequent fluctuations are not a new problem throughout the national territory. Since the great national blackout that occurred in March 2019, some businessmen in the region, among these agricultural producers, were forced to buy power plants to guarantee the minimum operation of some indispensable equipment, although sometimes they do not have fuel for the operation of the generators.

The most typical power outage lasts on average 4 hours, according to the same affected users, who question the lack of information related to the PAC power cuts and assure that the offices of the Electric Corporation (Corpoelec) in the plains region do not publish electrical rationing schedules by circuits.

There are those who try to keep a sequence of rationing schedules to try to disconnect devices in time to spare them from damage, but there is no way to know.

“Sometimes I think it will only fail in the afternoon, but then they turn off the light in the morning and finish us off at night. We have to take out the mattresses and sleep in the living room, because the heat is unbearable,” said María González, a resident of San Juan de los Morros, in Guárico State.

Livestock farmers without energy


Milk and meat producers in Apure survive as they can in the face of daily electricity failures


Milk and meat producers in Apure State survive as best they can the calamities caused by daily failures of the electrical energy service. Added to this deficiency is the lack of drinking water in the state, reported this year in the middle of the drought season.

They also mention that due to the constant blackouts and slowdowns, the farm equipment necessary for milk extraction, washing the pens, filling the animals’ water troughs and for consumption on the farms have been damaged.

Janio Gracia, a medium-sized producer in Achaguas, states that when blackouts or dangerous power outages occur, the use of mechanical milking in eight stalls in his farm stops.

“When we don’t have electricity, mechanical milking becomes more cumbersome and slow. I had to buy a generator just to keep the milk in good condition (refrigerated). My equipment has been damaged by the blackouts and work is delayed until noon or a full day. We always depend on a submersible electric pump, and if we do not have electricity, we cannot work or obtain water for the animals,” he noted.

Likewise, Raúl Rincones, a rancher in the Biruaca – Achaguas axis in Apure, highlighted that work in the field depends on electric pumps. He specified that up to two days go by without electricity and during that period of time they also run out of water to carry out the daily tasks of the production units.

“Darkness and lack of water cause damage to animals, cheese and milk produced for sale, consumables for the farm, and also fosters a climate of insecurity in the countryside,” he stressed.

In Rincones’ opinion, the economic losses in the sector are unquantifiable and ranchers do not have enough money to purchase an energy generating plant, which usually go for around $5,000 (U.S. dollars).

Producers without electricity or fuel

The incessant blackouts also affect the quality of life of the inhabitants in the Guárico State, who somehow manage to avoid mayor damage to their food, appliances and, particularly, in the case of the agro-productive sector, guarantee the operation of production units, which carry on despite limitations.

Rafael Meza, director of the Association of Producers of the Guárico State (Aprolegua), explained to the reporting team that the repeated cuts harm the optimal preservation of vaccines and biological material that they have in the association’s veterinary pharmacy.

“When the power goes out for a long time, we have to go out and buy ice to guarantee the cold chain of the products we have, which leads to extra and operational expenses for the staff. We bought a plant to be able to get by, but we can’t get gasoline either. Everything is very difficult,” he stated.

Meza added that this same situation is repeated in productive areas of other rural areas of the state, such as ‘Las Mercedes del Llano’, Chaguaramas, El Socorro, Tucupido, Valle de la Pascua, Santa María de Ipire and others.

A deadly blackout

Public health centers in the plains region are also harmed by power outages, which sometimes put patients at risk, even costing some their lives, due to failures of electrical power plants or lack of fuel for these to operate.

On March 12th, a blackout affected the area where the main healthcare centers of the Pedraza municipality, in Barinas State, are located: the Francisco Lazo Martí Hospital and the Socialist Comprehensive Diagnostic Center (CDI).


Francisco Lazo Martí the Hospital in Pedraza


In these places they did not have the electricity powerplant working, presumably due to lack of fuel, and as a patient there was a child who required urgent nebulization because he had difficulty breathing. The nebulizer equipment only runs on electricity.

The next day, the unfortunate news was known that the patient died, a source told After this event, the mayor of Pedraza, Frenchy Díaz, carried out the necessary procedures to ensure that there was electricity in cases of emergencies.

The ‘Manuel Heredia Alas de Libertad’ Hospital in Rojas municipality, has a powerplant that has worked for eight years. Recently, a contractor installed solar panels, but the batteries are missing and to secure a minimum supply they use small electric generators, powered by gasoline and/or diesel, fuel that is provided by the patients themselves and the opposition mayor.

In the main health center of Barinas, Luis Razetti Hospital “electrical power never goes out,” said a renowned cardiologist, because there is an electrical power line that is “untouchable.”


Luis Razetti Hospital of Barinas


At the José León Tapia hospital in Socopó and Jesús Camacho hospital in Sabaneta, the problems caused by the lack of diesel for the power plant were fortunately solved recently. Finally, in private clinical centers throughout Barinas they have to go hunting around for fuel despite the fact that the authorities granted quotas to buy it, but the supply is neither permanent nor secure, said a consulted source.