Must the show go on?
August was a hard month for all Venezuelans: citizens and authorities. The commonplace, used by the president, was a mistake
On August 28, the provisional "war" bridge started its operations, including government's placard "Chávez corazón de la patria" (Chávez's country heart), and the president's order to investigate the responsible company for the removal of the telescopic crane pointed as the reason for the occurrence.
On August 15, a bridge in Cúpira (on the freeway that connects Venezuela east and west) fell down, leaving isolated Caracas and Barlovento (west Venezuela). The crane and three cars were trapped into the bridge. Immediately, centralization and the lack of preventive maintenance were fingered.
The questioning of the infrastructure is not new. Freddy López, the President of the Engineers Association in Anzoátegui state, reminded El Universal that as early as in 2008, the bridge showed significant deterioration.
Rains: same history, worse damages
The last two weeks of August showed a feeble road infrastructure in the face of rains. In Caracas, the rise in the level of ravines and River Guaire adversely affected roads and canalization works.
The disaster caused by the rains is nationwide. It includes bridges, faults in roads and freeways, road stretches and rivers obstructed by landslides and some others under water due to the flooding of rivers.
Amuay: heavy blow in Paraguaná
More than 300 serious accidents, 77 workers dead and 267 injured is Pdvsa record from 2003 until February 2012. Amuay adds to the list as the biggest disaster ever occurred in Venezuela's history.
On August 25 early morning, a gas leak caused an explosion in refinery Amuay and unleashed a big fire. After some days, the official information recorded 42 people dead, 132 injured and 500 affected houses.
What caused this tragedy? It is soon to know it for certain. But, there are signs of little or poor maintenance of the refinery facilities, and maybe poor responsiveness. Media collected innumerable testimonies of local residents and workers about the presence of a strong gas smell, three days before the explosion. The sabotage thesis arouse from the pro-government sector.
On August 29, The New Herald disclosed the content of a report about Amuay made by RJG Risk Engineering for a reinsurance company, which found maintenance failures in the refinery, as well as inadequate firefighting, among others. Pdvsa annual report of 2011 recognized noncompliance with maintenance schedules in all the country's refineries.
Flooding: Getting more, getting worse
On August 23 in the morning, the River Manzanares waters got into Cumanacoa town, in Sucre state (west Venezuela). A total of 427 families lost their homes and more than 1,500 people had to go to temporary shelters. The emergency was promptly tackled and tons of food were sent to cut-off areas. Additionally, the Executive branch of government approved USD 23 million to build new houses.
Yare I: more deaths, same old story
On August 19, between 4 pm and 8 pm, the prisoners of Yare I (jail) would stage a war, claiming a death toll of 26 and more than 40 injured people.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) required Venezuelan authorities to take measures to avoid the repetition of such events and remembered that the Inter-American Court (IACHR Court) has six provisional measures in favor of prisoners.
The events at Yare 1 and some other Venezuelan prisons are as explosive as, or more explosive than, the rest of the events that the government has had to face over these weeks. NGO Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones (Venezuelan Prison Observatory) claimed that Yare I was set to house 750 inmates, compared to its current population of about 3,150 prisoners. During the incumbency of Iris Varela, the Minister of Penitentiary Services, since July 26, 2011, the count totals 577 deaths and 1,200 injured people in the jails.
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."