Argentina: when a life depends on energy supply
Buenos Aires, Jan 27 (EFE).- “We didn’t know how long Lautaro had left to live, because if the ventilator turned off, he would die,” the 11-year old boy’s mother, Marcela Gómez, tells Efe.
Lautaro is just one of the 15,000 people in Argentina whose lives depend on energy supply.
‘Lauti’ was born with a malformation that meant he would have to be connected to a mechanical ventilator for the rest of his life.
In addition to the ventilator, Lauti’s life depends on other electrical devices, as well as 24-hour nursing care and medical supplies.
A few years ago, the family experienced their biggest scare; a power cut.
“In that first power cut we were very scared, we didn’t know what to do,” Marcela says.
When they called the energy operator, all they were left with was a claim number and fear of the next power cut.
Outages in Argentina are common during summer, when heat waves raise the demand for electricity, leaving thousands of households with no power.
Over the years, Lauti’s family dealt with regular power cuts, forcing them to charge batteries at their neighbors’ and sometimes move their son – with all his equipment – to another house.
One day, while watching TV, they heard a story that resonated with their own.
“Seeing him on TV reflected that there was a part of society that was like Lautaro, and that he had the right to live and the right to breathe, and so did his family,” Marcela says.
Joaquín Stefanizzi, who died in March 2020, was born premature and weighed only 700 grams. Like Lautaro, he would have to spend the rest of his life connected to a ventilator.
But one night his family’s home was hit by a power cut.
“We had no power and Joaquín was not receiving the oxygen he needed to breathe,” his father, Mauro Stefanizzi, tells Efe.
When Joaquín’s family called the energy operator, nothing was done to ensure their son would not risk his life again.
Angered and desperate, Joaquín’s family started fighting for a law that would require power companies to provide generators or alternative energy sources to those whose lives depend on electricity.
Together with Lautaro’s family, they created the Argentine Association of Electro-dependents.
In 2017, the law was passed and a National Registry of Electro-dependent People in Argentina was created.
These people would have the right to claim equipment that ensures continuous and stable power in the case of supply alteration and a helpline that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Today, five years later, only two provinces have yet to adhere to the law. EFE