Fires in garbage dumps trigger respiratory diseases in Sucre State

Fires in garbage dumps trigger respiratory diseases in Sucre


The inhabitants of Cumaná, the capital of Sucre State survive between smoke and respiratory diseases. A situation maintained for more than a month now caused by the constant burning of garbage in the municipal landfill and the lack of control by local authorities.

Víctor Federico González // Correspondent

More than 15 communities of the Sucre State capital are drowning in smoke, and this is becoming a serious public health problem.

Among the sectors affected are Villa Cristóbal Colón, El Peñón, Cantarrana, Villa Dorada, Cardonal, Pantanillo, Virgen del Valle, Los Frailes, Puerto La Madera, Cantarrana, Campeche, Santa Ana, Villa Cariño and La Matica.

Complaints in the media and social networks for this situation did not wait. “Our lungs can’t take in so much smoke anymore. In Cumaná they burn garbage every day,” wrote a user on Twitter.

Furthermore, the coordinator of the political party Voluntad Popular (VP) in this state, Juan Rodríguez, maintained that: “the irresponsible fire in the Cumaná municipal landfill continues, affecting several communities in our city. There is no response to this public health emergency,” added the opposition leader.

Drowned in smoke


Fires in garbage dumps trigger respiratory diseases in Sucre State


In Carúpano, capital of the Bermúdez Municipality in the eastern part of the state, the scenario is similar, since the town’s landfill located on the outskirts of the city, is frequently the target of arson. This has generated great discomfort in Guaca and other neighborhoods of the area.

“That is normal here in Bermúdez. It is normal to breathe that polluted air, get sick and that neither the Sucre’s government nor the Bermúdez mayor’s office do anything to alleviate this problem,” said José Caraballo, a resident of Carúpano.

It should be noted that the frequent presence of smoke in the environment caused by the burning of solid waste is causing significant damage to the health of the population, to which one may add the gases emanating from transport units and other vehicles in the region.

Chaos in Carupano

This city is the second most important in the eastern state and, like Cumaná, vultures flutter through its streets among the garbage, due to failures in the collection service.

In mid-January, the Chavista Mayor of Carúpano, Julio Rodríguez, reported that he had held an exploratory meeting with the President of the “Fospuca” company (private garbage collection corporation), José Simón Elarba Haddad, with the intention of “evaluating and reviewing the issue of the urban cleaning service, in addition to waste treatment.” This was only after repeated citizen claims.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Cumaná, Luis Sifontes, in various speeches, also expressed the possibility of privatizing this service, but so far it has not been made official.

Burning landfill



According to Santiago Echeverría, President of the Autonomous Institute of Public Services (Inaservip), the Cumaná garbage dump has a final disposal space of approximately 200 hectares “of which 80% was set on fire as a result of the increase in demand for ferrous material collection and thus be able to extract it.”

He affirmed that the fire was already 90% controlled thanks to the work of the Cumaná Fire Department, the People’s Guard and other organizations.

“That landfill is a world in which some 300 people coexist daily collecting garbage and rummaging through it, and who deliberately set fire to the landfill in order to obtain the iron and metals that allow them to have a permanent income. This has resulted in a series of important events that affect the health of the people. Currently there are judicial procedures, because the people who cause these events have been identified,” said the official of Nicolás Maduro’s regime at a press conference.

Likewise, he revealed that there are six people detained and other arrests are being planned for this reason.

He also reported that a Caterpillar brand 329 jumbo (heavy backhoe) was burned. “It is very expensive equipment and it had been recovered by this administration. They stole its computer and wiring (…) The computer alone costs 6,000 U.S. dollars, they are hurting the State,” he assured.

Echeverría specified that a reorganization plan will be applied in that space to guide the new maintenance and security policies, as well as to control of the people who work there to avoid the repetition of this type of event.

It is worth remembering that these events have happened repeatedly in the capital of Sucre State.

Complaints of the people of Cumaná



Another of the serious consequences of this reality that affects the first-born city of the American continent is the proliferation of flies and other pests in different sectors of the city.

The residents of Cumaná have denounced this and express their fear at the possibility of an increase in diseases such as diarrhea, vomiting and infections.

“In the Virgen del Valle urbanization we cannot leave our food uncovered, because it gets covered by flies. It is almost impossible to maintain the windows open or in our rooms because we feel that the flies are going to take us away,” said Mayerling Gómez, a resident of the Virgen del Valle urbanization.

For her part, Andreína Mata, who lives in Villa Cristóbal Colón, explained that she practically lives locked up in her house, because the prevalence of smoke is unbearable and has caused health problems for one of her children.

“I have given my son more than three treatments to be able to control his asthmatic crisis in these past weeks. It is a desperate situation and the Government does little or nothing about it. Not to mention how difficult it is to afford a medicine, the minimum syrup does not cost any less than 5 dollars,” said Mata, who is the mother of three minors.

Polluted environment

For an otolaryngologist consulted by in Sucre, who asked us to omit her name, what is happening is serious and its consequences are beginning to be felt immediately, but there will also be a “bill to be paid” in the medium and long term .

The specialist explained that the smoke from burning garbage is one of the most harmful to human health.

Irritation of the respiratory tract, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are pathologies that people may suffer from in the future.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution increases the risk of acute respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Children, the elderly and women are affected to a greater extent.

By September 2021, WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries and all those fighting to protect the environment, to implement the organization’s new air quality guidelines to reduce suffering, air pollution and save lives.

The WHO guidelines recommend new levels of air quality to protect the health of populations by reducing the levels of the main air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change, which is evidently not being met in Sucre and the consequences are disastrous for the health of the population.