By Elizabeth Llorente
Published March 14, 2019
Power has returned to Venezuela after a week after the country was plunged into darkness, but access to uncontaminated water remains critical.
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodrigues said at a press conference on Wednesday that power was 100 percent restored, adding: "President Nicolas Maduro has decided to resume work activities throughout the country" on Thursday.
"School activities remain suspended for another 24 hours."
Water, however, remains a problem.
The blackout worsened the quality of drinkable water in the country, with many residents reporting what appeared to be oil-contaminated black water coming out of their taps.
The power outage hampered the ability of utilities to pump water to homes.
Venezuelan reporter Heberlizeth González tweeted Wednesday: “The water shortage situation…is terrible. There are areas that have been without water for more than two months. This morning water started coming out like this – not at all suitable for consumption.”
She posted a video of black water running from a tap.
Jose Perez told Sky News that people are so desperate for water, they are taking their chances, regardless of whether it might be contaminated.
"You don't know where this water is coming from, if it's treated or not treated, you take water home without knowing the consequences of it in the future," he said.
"The sad thing about everything we are living through in Venezuela is the sadness of everything happening in our nation, the sadness of what is happening with all of the youth at this time - it's not a life."
At the Wednesday press conference, the information minister suggested that Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, had a role in the blackout.
Maduro's administration also placed blame for the blackout on the United States.
Opposition leaders say that blackout and other problems in the country are rooted in government corruption and incompetence.
Former utilities officials and engineers told Reuters that they believe a technical problem with transmission lines linking the Guri hydroelectric plant in southeastern Venezuela to the national power grid likely caused the blackout.
Water shortages are hardly a new problem in Venezuela.
Venezuelans have struggled through water shortages under the Maduro administration for a whole host of reasons, including water network malfunctions, Reuters reported last year.
It is part of the economic crisis that has plagued the once-wealthy nation for the last six years.
“For many years this deterioration process was not noticeable,” Jose De Viana, former president of Hidrocapital, the state-run utility in charge of Caracas’ water supply, told Reuters last year. “But now the water transport systems are very damaged.”
Poor access to water, and the dirty water that runs out of the tap, have created health problems in recent years.
Those problems include skin and stomach conditions, and scabies and diarrhea were growing common.