Maduro government blames Venezuela blackout on attack | News | DW | 23.07.2019
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Maduro government blames Venezuela blackout on attack

Caracas and other parts of Venezuela have been hit by a massive power cut. The government blamed the blackout on an "electromagnetic attack."

After 4 p.m. (2000 UTC) on Monday, lights began going out in 19 of Venezuela's 23 states. Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez called the power cut a "national event" — and had a theory as to what had caused it.

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"The first indications received from the investigation ... point to the existence of an electromagnetic attack that sought to affect the hydroelectric generation system of Guayana," Rodriguez said on state television late Monday. The region in southern Venezuela hosts the Guri hydroelectric power station, which produces 80% of the country's electricity.

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With traffic lights out, bottlenecks snarled the capital and the sidewalks teemed with pedestrians walking home when the metro stopped. Stores closed as the lack of electricity prevented the use of credit and debit cards. Cash has become worthless in Venezuela.

'Won't grow accustomed'

As blackouts have become common in Venezuela, the government has blamed sabotage, but opposition figures and the press say a lack of investment, poor management, the emigration of qualified engineers and personnel, and corruption likely play a bigger role.

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"They tried to hide the tragedy by rationing throughout the country, but the failure is clear," Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. and more than 50 other nations recognize as interim president, wrote late Monday on Twitter. The opposition leader reiterated a call for nationwide protests on Tuesday: "We Venezuelans won't grow accustomed to this," he wrote.

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A weeklong outage in March affected all 23 states, shutting down the water supply and canceling work and school. That incident and another that came days later affected hospital care, as well.

President Nicolas Maduro's opponents said 20 people died because of problems with medical treatment. Maduro blamed "terrorists" for the cut, claiming that they had attacked the Guri hydroelectric plant.

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In the wake of the earlier blackouts, Rodriguez said, the government "has implemented protection and security protocols" that will permit the restoration of electricity "in the shortest possible time." He added: "Those who've systematically attacked the noble people of Venezuela in all kinds of ways will once again be confronted with the mettle and courage that we, the children of our liberator, Simon Bolivar, have demonstrated in the face of difficulties."

mkg/jm (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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