Venezuela hit by major blackout, gov’t blames 'sabotage'

Leroy Wright
March 10, 2019

The Socialist Party has called for a competing march to protest what it calls imperialism by the USA, which has levied crippling oil sanctions on Maduro's government in efforts to cut off its sources of funding.

The United States and about 50 other countries support Guaido's campaign to oust Maduro and hold elections.

"All the options are on the table", added the National Assembly president, using a phrase employed by US President Donald Trump, who has consistently refused to rule out military intervention in Venezuela.

Overnight, security services had stopped the opposition from setting up a stage in an avenue where their protest was due to take place.

Abrams, a neoconservative who has long advocated an activist US role in the world, said he had been asking European banks to take steps to shield individual Venezuelans' assets from Maduro's government.

President Nicolas Maduro always attributes major power outages to sabotage by opposition adversaries. Much of Venezuela was still without electricity Friday amid the country's worst-ever power outage, raising tensions in a country already on edge from ongoing political turmoil.

Maduro, who was re-elected past year in a vote widely viewed as fraudulent, blames the crisis on a USA -backed sabotage campaign.

The mounting political pressure comes as services slowly returned to normal in Caracas and the states of Miranda and Vargas, home to the country's worldwide airport and main port.

Local power outages continue to be chronic, particularly in the sweltering western state of Zulia where residents complain of days without power or with limited electricity and voltage fluctuations that damage appliances.

Blackouts and fuel shortages have been common in Venezuela in recent years. Its cause is still unknown.

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INTO DARKNESS: Venezuela Thrust into Chaos as Power Goes Out Across the Country

Emilse Arellano said urgent dialysis for her youngest child had to be canceled Friday, after a night during which staff worked by the light of cellphones.

The Caracas subway, which transports two million people a day, remained suspended and shops were closed.

Adriana Bellorin, a lawyer who went out to buy food Thursday evening, said it was futile. "We're fed up", Luis Alvarez, a 51-year-old truck driver, told AFP.

As well as communications, water pumps have failed, food is rotting in fridges, businesses are shuttered and transport is virtually non existent.

"We are tired. Exhausted", said Estefania Pacheco, a sales executive forced to walk 12 kilometers (7 miles) from her office in eastern Caracas to her home across town.

An estimated 2.7 million people have left the country since 2015.

During the blackout, witnesses described scenes of chaos at several hospitals as people tried to move sick relatives in the dark to clinics with better emergency power facilities.

The ruling Socialist Party called the power cuts an act of US-sponsored sabotage but opposition critics said it was the result of two decades of mismanagement and corruption.

Netblocks, a non-government group based in Europe that monitors internet censorship, said on Saturday a second outage had knocked out nearly all of Venezuela's telecommunications infrastructure. It gave no details.

The state power company Corpoelec said there has been sabotage at a big hydroelectric plant called Guri in Bolivar state, one of the largest in Latin America.

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