Venezuelan blackout continues
Damage is seen in a supermarket after it was looted during an ongoing blackout in Caracas, Venezuela - Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS

Venezuelan blackout continues

11/03/2019
14:40
Reuters
Caracas
Vivian Sequera & Mayela Armas
-A +A
Venezuela woke up to the fifth day of an unprecedented nationwide blackout on Monday, leaving residents concerned about the impacts of the lack of electricity on the South American country

Venezuela woke up to the fifth day of an unprecedented nationwide blackout on Monday, leaving residents concerned about the impacts of the lack of electricity on the South American country’s health, communications, and transport systems.

Socialist President Nicolás Maduro—who is facing a challenge to his rule by the leader of the opposition-led Congress, Juan Guaidó—has blamed the blackout on an act of “sabotage” by the United States at the Guri hydroelectric dam, but experts say it is the outcome of years of underinvestment.
 

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Despite pressure from frequent opposition marches and U.S. sanctions on the country’s vital oil sector, Maduro is not open to negotiations on ending the political impasse and seems intent on trying to stay put, said Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s envoy for Venezuela.

The blackout, which began Thursday afternoon, increased frustration among Venezuelans already suffering widespread food and medicine shortages, as the once-prosperous OPEC nation’s economy suffers a hyperinflationary collapse. Food rotted in refrigerators, people walked for miles to work with the Caracas subway down, and relatives abroad anxiously waited for updates from family members with telephone and internet signals intermittent.

At hospitals, the lack of power combined with the absence or poor performance of backup generators led to the death of 17 patients across the country, non-governmental organization Doctors for Health said on Saturday.

Power returned briefly to parts of Caracas and other cities on Friday, but went out again around midday on Saturday.

The outage is by far the longest in decades. In 2013, Caracas and 17 of the country’s 23 states were hit by a six-hour blackout, while in 2018 eight states suffered a 10-hour power outage, government officials said at the time.
 

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