New blackout hits portions of Venezuela
A new power outage hit Venezuela on Friday at 4:25 pm after electricity was restored to several areas of the country following a blackout lasting more than two hours, this on the heels of a major electric power failure the day before that has lasted for almost 22 hours.
The new blackout shows that authorities still have not fully resolved the power failure, which - according to the Nicolas Maduro administration - was due to “sabotage” orchestrated by the political opposition with the help of the United States.
Areas where power had allegedly been restored are now without electricity once again at last report.
So far, the Venezuelan government has not made public the specific reasons why it has not been able to provide an unbroken power supply.
A few minutes before the new blackout it had been reported that electric service had begun to be restored in several parts of Caracas and in some of the 14 states - out of the nation’s total of 23 - that were affected on Thursday.
Earlier, Tachira state Gov. Laidy Gomez told the private Globovision television that in her western state the emergency rooms of hospitals were functioning with electric generators because of the outage.
Telecommunications failures persist, however, making it difficult to make phone calls, connect to the Internet and make electronic payments.
The Caracas Metro service, used by hundreds of thousands of people each day, remains paralyzed and many businesses remain closed.
The blackouts have been occurring despite the fact that the Maduro regime has militarized the country’s power plants, which are completely under state control.
On Friday, Maduro ordered schools and public and private sector work places closed due to the blackouts affecting roughly 90 percent of the country and that have lasted for nearly 20 hours.
The blackouts began at around 5 pm on Thursday and were immediately reported by citizens on social media in the states of Carabobo, Miranda, Barquisimeto, Tachira, Cojedes, Merida, Barinas, Vargas, Nueva Esparta, Aragua and Zulia.
In remarks aired by several media outlets, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez confirmed the suspension of activities ordered by Maduro and said the power failures were due to “electrical sabotage” orchestrated by the opposition “in complicity with imperial powers.”
She did not mention any foreign country in particular, but Venezuela has long accused the United States of carrying out economic warfare against the leftist-led country.
The US has recently imposed severe sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, a move aimed at cutting off Maduro’s main source of hard-currency income.
Rodriguez said the “technological attack” had caused widespread disruptions and led Maduro to cancel activities at schools and workplaces on Friday.
The government’s move is aimed at easing the task of technicians working to restore electrical service in the affected states, she added.
Also Friday, the speaker of Venezuela’s opposition-dominated but toothless National Assembly (unicameral legislature), Juan Guaido, toured several Caracas streets to assess the situation.
Guaido, who says Maduro’s May 2018 re-election victory was fraudulent and in late January proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president, expressed concern for people in hospitals and reiterated his call for more mass anti-government protests on Saturday.
He blamed government corruption for the situation and lamented that the country is suffering blackouts despite possessing the world’s largest oil reserves.
Guaido has been recognized by the US, several large European nations and many other countries as interim president.
China, Russia and India are among the dozens of nations that recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.
State-owned electricity operator Corpoelec said on Thursday afternoon that the Guri hydroelectric plant - a facility in southern Venezuela that is the source of much of the country’s electricity - had been hit by sabotage.
Electricity Minister Luis Motta Dominguez also gave the same assessment in remarks to state-run VTV television.
“We’ve been the target once again of electrical warfare ... but as you know here there’s a government of high moral standards. They’re not going to defeat us,” Motta said Thursday.
He said then that electrical service was expected to be restored in just three hours, but the blackouts have lasted much longer.