VENEZUELA – Looters have all but emptied stores and warehouses across western Venezuela as large parts of the country remain without power more than a week after a mass blackout.
The mobs overwhelmed Venezuela’s security forces and broke into buildings. People stole cars, trucks and equipment. Hundreds of businesses in the Venezuelan oil capital of Maracaibo were emptied and left in shambles.
Looters broke through the cinder-block walls of a Pepsi plant and took thousands of cases of beer and soda and 160 pallets of food. They destroyed or stole 22 trucks and five forklifts, Bloomberg reported Friday.
“If people made enough to make ends meet, we wouldn’t be trying to get by like this,” Enrique Gonzalez, an 18-year-old bus conductor, told Bloomberg. “This country has gone to hell.”
Police and other emergency officials have stayed away from the carnage and refused to help businesses and property owners protect their property and assets.
“It’s hard to swallow,” Bernardo Morillo, a 60-year-old mall manager, told Bloomberg. “The national guard stood by as this vandalism happened and the firefighters didn’t even show.”
A mass blackout hit large swaths of the country on March 7. Experts blamed poor Venezuelan infrastructure. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed the power outage on a U.S. cyberattack. Maduro’s chief prosecutor Tarek Saab is pressuring the country’s supreme court to investigate opposition leader Juan Guaido for alleged sabotage, BBC reported.
Maduro is under pressure to step down as president as many world leaders have renounced his regime and recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. The Trump administration is applying increasing pressure to Maduro through sanctions and has not ruled out using military force to deposethe South American leader.