80% of Venezuela’s Second-Largest City Without Traffic Lights Due to Looting

Venezuelan opposition activists march during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro's
Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

An exposé published Monday by La Patilla estimated that as many as 80 percent of traffic lights in Maracaibo, Venezuela – the second-largest city in the country – are not functional, in need of repair, or simply unusable due to residents looting electric wires.

The result is an anarchic situation in which traffic accidents are a routine occurrence as many cars do not bother to stop at intersections. La Patilla reported that the socialist mayor of the city, Willy Casanova, had indicated no interest in improving the situation and said that local residents had accused him of having “dementia” – or, in some cases, simply faking it – to avoid answering questions about how dangerous the city had become.

Residents told the outlet that, despite the widespread lack of traffic signals, no police officers or traffic directors observe intersections, indicating the socialist regime has no interest in making the streets safer for residents.

Maracaibo is the capital of western Zulia state, sitting atop the large lake that bears the same name. It was the first place in the country to implement public electricity access and home to vast wealth prior to socialism due to the vast oil deposits located in the area. The city is believed to be home to about 2.3 million people.

“Here in Maracaibo, people drive as if they were crazy, they pass traffic lights at top speed without looking to both sides,” resident Danny Montilla told La Patilla. “I drive with terror.”

La Patilla noted that electricity in general is hard to come by and, in addition to the traffic lights, most streets also have no lights at night, leaving the city in pitch-black darkness.

“The capital of Zulia state is in a state of total collapse,” the outlet lamented. “The streets have no public lighting and the traffic lights are almost totally turned off, so the city enters into darkness once the night falls, which creates a great danger for drivers and the few cars circulating in the city.”

Socialist-driven poverty and gasoline shortages have limited the number of people who drive in the city. Venezuela has the world’s second-largest known oil reserves after the United States but, under socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, many of the nation’s refineries have fallen into disrepair, leaving the country with no way to use its copious heavy crude. Maduro has relied on allied rogue states like Iran to import oil to the country, violating international sanctions.

The Venezuela outlet observed that many of the city’s major avenues did not have traffic lights at all, but more were adorned with traffic lights that simply didn’t work. Many of them appeared not to have any electric wires flowing to them, a product of looting, according to the report.

The traffic situation in Maracaibo has been disastrous for years. Old reports indicate that 20 percent of the city’s traffic lights working may be an improvement from the situation in 2018. That year, residents and citizen reporters posted impacting videos and photos on social media of the broken lights and the high-speed, dangerous driving that locals were doing in response to having no direction on the roads.

“Not a single traffic light in service in Maracaibo,” denounced socialist, but anti-Chavista, lawmaker Nora Bracho at the time, who represents the city. “Mountains of garbage all over the place, homes do not have gas, and let’s not talk about public transport!”

A video of a street corner in 2018 revealed fast driving in densely populated, urban areas, endangering both drivers and pedestrians.

The major Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional estimated in 2018 that 90 percent of traffic lights in the city did not work, citing the Transport Center of Zulia State. At the time, the report indicated that the extended power outrages that Maracaibo experienced regularly rendered most traffic lights useless. The few traffic lights that had power would often only have one functional light – a situation that could potentially make driving even more dangerous if drivers are transiting under the assumpting that they will not see a single light turn on.

El Nacional noted at the time that traffic lights typically last about 30 years or more if properly maintained. That maintenance requires the replacement of deteriorating parts, however, which the socialist regime had ceased to engage in.

Venezuela has been a socialist country for over 20 years.

A year later, the socialist governor of Zula, Omar Prieto, announced a “plan for traffic-light-ization” in the city, publishing images on social media of what he claimed to be construction crews installing and repairing lights.

“Manufactured in our warehouses with 100% Zulian labor,” he claimed.

Locals have complained that poor traffic direction is the least of Maracaibo’s problems.

“What Maracaibo needed – apart from the electric problem, water, gasoline, gas, viability, transport, cash, traffic lights – now we have another ingredient: grenade attacks on businesses and customers,” wrote attorney Manuel Montaño in 2019. “All of this a product of communism, nobody knows where it ends.”

Casanova, the mayor of Maracaibo, is currently using his platform to encourage residents to participate in the fraudulent socialist elections scheduled for November 21. Maduro regularly holds sham elections to give the world an appearance of democracy in the country, but each successive election has resulted in multiple record-low turnouts, embarrassing the socialist regime. Compliance from establishment “opposition” groups does not appear on track to make this election different.

“To continue the lovely projects that we have, it is necessary to vote on [November 21],” Casanova wrote on Twitter Sunday. “And in that way take care of what we have achieved together with love and work. Maracaibo has a way how!”

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