— Lights Go Out in Venezuela, Social Media Heats Up
— Venezuela Is Plunged Into Darkness by a Major Electrical Blackout
A widespread blackout enveloped much of Venezuela in darkness on Thursday night, stopping subway service in the capital and causing problems around the country, which has been plagued by power failures as its economic crisis has worsened.
The power failure appeared to be more severe than others, however, and the government of President Nicolás Maduro moved quickly to blame its opponents.
The minister of electrical power, Luis Motta Domínguez, said on state television that the blackout was caused by an “attack” on the Guri Dam, a large hydroelectric facility in east Venezuela.
Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez, also on the state news network, said that right-wing “criminals” had committed “sabotage” to the dam’s system of generation and distribution.
State-owned electricity operator Corpoelec blamed the outage on what it called an “attack” on the Guri Dam, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric stations and the cornerstone of Venezuela’s electrical grid.
“We’ve been targeted again in the power war,” Maj. Gen. Luis Motta, President Nicolas Maduro’s minister of electrical power, said on state television.
It comes amid heightened tensions over opposition efforts, backed by the US, to remove Mr Maduro from power.
Mr Maduro accuses opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó of trying to mount a coup with the help of “US imperialists”.
Mr Guaidó – who is backed by the US, most European and some Latin American countries – said the blackout was a matter of “chaos, concern and indignation” and “evidence of the usurper’s inefficiency”.
“Light would return” once Mr Maduro was removed from power,” he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in, blaming the “Maduro regime’s incompetence”.
“No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro,” he tweeted.
The lack of electricity has caused flights to be diverted from the main airport in Caracas, where thousands of workers were forced to walk home.
“How do you tell a mother who has to cook, an ill person who depends on a machine, and a laborer who needs to work that they’re in a powerful country without light?” he asked on Twitter. He added: “The light will come with the end of the usurpation.”
On social media, many used the hashtag #SinLuz, or Without Light, to share photos and video of cities in nearly total darkness, and of Venezuelans, unable to use public transportation, walking in large numbers through city streets lit only by car headlights. Local news reports showed large traffic jams caused by failed traffic lights.