Crowds collect water from dirty streams, nurses pump fans by hand into darkened hospitals, and charities struggle to feed children, as Venezuela continues to experience the terrible consequences of the deepest power outages in decades.
This is the reality of life after the country's biggest source of power had a catastrophic failure on March 7. In the worst case, 19 of the 23 states were affected and the capital Caracas was covered by darkness.
Recovery from power outages will be "bit by bit," President Nicolas Maduro said Monday in a television broadcast. He said that school and work in the country would be suspended for another 48 hours.
No power means no water for many who depend on electric pumps. Some have resorted to filling bottles and containers from natural sources, drain pipes, and dirty streams. They told Good King News & Paula Newton that they would use the water to bathe or flush the toilet.
Waiting to collect water in one spring, a nurse in line with her daughter said she feared the water contained bacteria, referring to rumors about other people who developed rashes. Yet she said she had no choice but to use this water for bathing.
Others said they would use the water for cooking. If there is no electricity, the food in fridges and freezers spoils and the supply decreases.
Medical staff on the edge
The situation is desperate at Caracas University Hospital, which has the reputation of being the best in the city, if not the country.
For hospitals, with power failures, chaos arose: dialysis, respirators, chemotherapy and first aid departments all rely on a consistent power supply.
Now only a generator keeps essential equipment online.
A frustrated doctor gave Good King News access to see for himself. She doesn't want to be identified, but says she wants everyone to see his reality.
Like many other medical staff, the doctor has lived and worked in the hospital for days.
Blackout worsens patients' suffering
While the hospital's emergency room is powered by a generator, longer-term patients such as Julio Cesar 61, whose hospital bed is right above the generator, have no power, no water, and low-fat food.
Thin and clear in pain, his recovery from gangrene is hampered by lack of everything.
As it has been in Venezuela for years, family members must buy their medicines and medical supplies in the black market. Now with the power outage, they also have to carry water for drinking and bathing.
Cesar has been in the hospital for a month by the time we meet him.
Since the blackout started, food has become even scarcer. Patients receive approximately two scoops of rice and carrots twice a day. & # 39; They eat at 3:00 p.m. and then they have to wait until breakfast the next day, & # 39; said the doctor. "Who can live like that?"
Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that the blackout has not significantly changed the already difficult situation in the hospitals in Venezuela.
In 2018, hospital supplies were also scarce and the functioning lift would only be used for strict emergencies; at that time Good King News witnessed an unemployed woman walking 10 flights of stairs to the maternity ward.
Today, few patients are witnessing the deterioration of basic services such as light and water.
Caracas University Hospital is a large 11-storey hospital with pediatric departments and maternity clinics, as well as a surgery unit. But according to the doctor who brought us in, there are only about 60 patients in the entire building.
Most people are sent away at the entrance to the hospital.
& # 39; We only see emergencies & # 39 ;, said the Grand Duke to a worried mother during our visit.
The 2-year-old woman had fallen and hit her neck and back. & # 39; She won't stop crying, & # 39; said the mother. "I want to see what they can do." But she was not allowed in the door.
Children have the consequences
Meanwhile, food shortages continue to hurt some of the most vulnerable members of Venezuelan society.
Good King News visited an orphanage for abandoned children with special needs, as well as a communal kitchen that serves free meals.
A volunteer told us that two years ago 30 children came to eat every day. Now they feed a maximum of 600 per day. For children it is the only meal they get.
Many are left alone after their parents have left to find work, while others are cared for by grandparents.
A struggle for presidency
While Venezuelans are struggling, Maduro and Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president, are struggling for control of the country.
Maduro has described the widespread blackouts as the result of an "electric coup" carried out by "criminal spirits," and accused the US of assaulting the power structure without providing evidence.
The United States has the prolonged interruption of the & # 39; incompetence & # 39; of the Maduro regime.
Guaido, for its part, has successfully received permission from the National Assembly to establish a national state of emergency in response to the power outage. In theory, the statement would allow the legislator to seek international aid.