Electricity returns slowly to Venezuela after latest blackout; Maduro blames ‘criminals’

Jul 23, 2019 | 5 comments

Venezuela has been hit by another massive power cut with the capital, Caracas, among the areas affected. As of noon Tuesday, power was slowly being restored after the blackout reportedly hit 16 of the country’s 23 states as well as Caracas.

Most of Caracas was without power Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez claimed the power cut was caused by an “electromagnetic attack” without providing evidence of might have perpetrated the attack. In March, the country was hit by a series of blackouts, including one that affected all states and lasted a week.

Sporadic blackouts are common in crisis-hit Venezuela, where decades of underinvestment have damaged the country’s power grid.

The blackout, which started late Monday afternoon, caused a massive gridlock in Caracas as traffic lights lost power. Sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians after the city’s metro stopped running. Power was restored in the capital and some other parts of the country in the early hours of Tuesday local time, state-owned power company Corpolec said.

But workplaces and schools were due to remain closed during the day as the government urged people to stay home.

“These blackouts are catastrophic,” 51-year-old janitor Bernardina Guerra, who lives in Caracas, told Reuters news agency. “I live in the eastern part of the city and there the lights go out every day. Each day things are worse.”

Venezuela depends on its vast hydroelectric infrastructure, rather than its oil reserves, for its domestic electricity supply. In a statement, Rodríguez said the alleged attack “sought to affect the hydroelectric generation system of Guayana”, the southern state where the important Guri dam plant is located.

On Twitter, President Nicolás Maduro claimed the blackout was the result of a “new criminal attack on the tranquillity and peace of the homeland” and said the armed forces had been deployed for relief efforts. But opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó said it was the result of “corruption and inability of the regime”.

The latest blackout follows an hours-long outage in April that plunged large swathes of the country, including Caracas, into darkness.

Credit: BBC, www.bbc.com


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