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Venezuelan gov’t blames blackout on arson

This Caracas gas station is closed for lack of electricity following the two nationwide power outages on Monday night, March 25, which the Maduro government blames on separate attacks against the power grid, while National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido says that bad management by the Maduro's "regime" is the real cause of Venezuela's power woes. EFE-EPA/Rayner Peña

This Caracas gas station is closed for lack of electricity following the two nationwide power outages on Monday night, March 25, which the Maduro government blames on separate attacks against the power grid, while National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido says that bad management by the Maduro’s “regime” is the real cause of Venezuela’s power woes. EFE-EPA/Rayner Peña

EFE

The nationwide blackout that forced business and schools in Venezuela to suspend operations Tuesday was caused by arson, the government said.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Twitter that the arsonists targeted a segment of turbines at the Guri Dam, which supplies nearly 70 percent of Venezuela’s electricity.

“The criminals created a fire ... with the sinister intention of of definitively damaging the generation and transmission of the power,” he wrote.

The electrical grid suffered two attacks on Monday, according to Rodriguez. The first came shortly after 1.00 pm, while the second occurred at 9.50 pm, disrupting the process of restoring power.

Officials announced early Tuesday that schools and businesses would remain closed for 24 hours due to the blackout.

Power began to be restored to some parts of Venezuela by 12.15 pm Tuesday.

The speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, said that President Nicolas Maduro ‘s government did not have a “sensible, credible explanation” of the blackout, which comes two weeks after the restoration of power following a nationwide outage that last five days.

Guaido, recognized by roughly 50 countries as Venezuela’s acting president, said during a legislative session that the power failure was a “product of poor maintenance, product of corruption.”

“They lie to avoid taking responsibility for this murderous crisis. They are also risking the little that’s left of the national electrical infrastructure,” Guaido tweeted earlier Tuesday.

Maduro’s leftist government attributed the March 7-12 blackout to cyber-sabotage of the computer system at the Guri hydroelectric complex.

The sabotage was carried out by the United States, the government said.

The opposition, however, blamed the Maduro government for failures in the system, saying that the government’s poor management of the grid was the real cause of the outage.

Fifteen people undergoing treatment in Venezuelan hospitals during the March 7-12 outage died due to the lack of electricity, the opposition said, while officials maintain that two people died.

Washington was the first country to recognize Guaido as interim president and has ratched up its economic sanctions against Venezuela since the opposition leader’s Jan. 23 proclamation.


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