Maduro: Massive Venezuelan Blackout ‘Directed by Imperialist United States’

Blackout darkens much of Venezuela in latest taste of economic woes
AFP Matias DELACROIX

Venezuela literally shut down on Friday as a massive nationwide blackout rolled into a second day, causing schools and business operations to close. Socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro blamed the blackout on sabotage “directed by the imperialist United States” and carried out by agents of the Venezuelan opposition.

The main hydroelectric power plant in Venezuela failed on Thursday, kicking off what has become the longest nationwide blackout in over 30 years. By Friday morning, Reuters was able to find only one city, Puerto Ordaz, that was still running electric lights.

The Associated Press reported 22 of 23 states in Venezuela were affected, notably including the capital of Caracas, which usually avoids the worst effects of the nation’s periodic rolling blackouts. The situation was made worse by the unfortunate timing, as the lights went out during peak evening rush hour in the crowded capital city, causing enormous traffic jams.

Reuters noted Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA did not respond to questions about whether the vital oil industry has been crippled by the blackout.

The workday was officially suspended for other businesses and schools were closed. Hospital staff worked by candlelight, first responders worked to rescue people trapped in elevators, and at least one inbound international flight was turned back when backup generators at the Caracas airport failed.

Maduro, as is his habit, blamed the blackout on his political opponents and their supporters in the United States.

“The electrical war announced and directed by the imperialist United States against our people will be defeated!” he declared on Twitter, although most of his captive population was unable to read the message because the power is out.

The AP described Venezuela’s “normally hyperactive social media” as “eerily silent,” other than Maduro’s fulminations. Angry citizens responded with a more primitive form of social media by opening their windows and screaming curses at Maduro.

The Miami Herald said on Friday that the blackout has triggered one of the largest computer network collapses ever seen in Latin America. The Herald report suggested the blackout might actually work to Maduro’s advantage by shutting down the Venezuelan Internet, which the regime has struggled to control with increasingly heavy-handed censorship tactics.

Maduro officials fanned out to describe the cause of the blackout as an “attack” on the Guri Dam hydroelectric plant perpetrated by “criminals” and “right-wing” agents determined to “sabotage” the power grid.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez was more specific, claiming the Guri Dam was shut down by a “cyber attack” launched by Venezuelan right-wing extremists at the direction of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

“What’s the intention? To submit the Venezuelan people to various days without electricity to attack, to mistreat, so that vital areas would be without power,” Rodriguez thundered.

Rubio responded to Rodriguez on Twitter, with tongue planted firmly in cheek:

Rubio proposed an alternative culprit for the blackout, a Japanese national noted for damaging urban infrastructure to spotlight what his admirers have described as “the folly of man”:

Rubio then grew more serious and reminded the world of who really destroyed Venezuela:

Venezuelan opposition leader and internationally-recognized interim president Juan Guaido also struck back at the Maduro regime on Twitter, using the #SinLuz hashtag (“Without Light”) to pin responsibility for the blackout on the “usurper in Miraflores” – a reference to the Venezuelan presidential palace.

“Sabotage is stealing money,” Guaido charged, turning Maduro’s allegations back against him. “Sabotage is burning food and medicine. Sabotage is stealing elections.”

“This blackout demonstrates the incompetence of the usurper. The recovery of the electricity sector, and the country, comes with the end of the usurpation,” Guaido said, noting Venezuela enjoyed huge energy reserves and the best power grid on the continent before the socialist takeover.

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