News / Americas

Power Outage Plunges Most of Venezuela into Darkness

People walk on a street during a blackout in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 2, 2013.
People walk on a street during a blackout in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 2, 2013.
Reuters
— Venezuela's second massive power outage of the year plunged much of the nation into darkness on Monday night, prompting renewed talk of sabotage from President Nicolas Maduro's government and cries of incompetence from its foes.
 
Power went off in Caracas and other cities around the country soon after 8 p.m. local time (0030 GMT), to the intense annoyance of residents and commuters.
 
“I feel so frustrated, angry and impotent,” said sales adviser Aneudys Acosta, 29, trudging through the rain along a street in the capital after having to leave the disrupted underground transport system. “I live far away and here I am stuck under the rain. Something's going wrong that they're not sorting out. The government needs a Plan B. This is just not normal.”
 
Monday's outage appeared similar to a massive Sept. 5 blackout that was one of the worst in the South American OPEC member's history.
 
Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver who narrowly won a presidential election this year after the death of his mentor and former leader Hugo Chavez, accused the opposition then of deliberately sabotaging the grid to discredit him.
 
His powerful ally and National Assembly president, Diosdado Cabello, repeated the same accusation after Monday's blackout.
 
“I have no doubt that today's electricity sabotage is part of the right-wing's plan,” Cabello said on Twitter.
 
In some wealthier parts of Caracas, where opposition to the socialist government is strongest, people began banging pots and pans out their windows in a traditional form of protest.
 
Some shouted, “Maduro, resign!”
 
Venezuela has been suffering periodic electricity cuts around the country for several years, although the capital has been spared the worst outages.
 
Critics say the power problems symbolize the failure of the government and its 15 years of socialist policies in resource-rich Venezuela.
 
The country has the world's largest crude oil reserves and is blessed with big rivers that feed hydroelectric facilities generating two-thirds of its power.
 
The blackouts, sometimes due to planned power rationing and at others to utility failures, have not affected the oil refineries, which are powered by separate generator plants.
 
State oil company PDVSA said its installations were all working normally, and fuel supplies were guaranteed.
 
Electricity Minister Jesse Chacon said the same major transmission line that went down in September - and carries about 60 percent of national supply - had again been affected.
 
He said power would return to Caracas within an hour. Parts of the capital were slowly regaining power during the evening, according to residents.
 
“We ask Venezuelans for patience,” Chacon said. “It's noteworthy that the problem is in the same place as the sabotage in September.”
 
Maduro, who was giving a live address on state TV when the power went off, said he was continuing to work in the presidential palace despite the “strange” blackout.
 
“Nothing and nobody will stop the offensive to protect the people from the bourgeoisie's economic war,” he said on Twitter, using similarly militaristic language as his predecessor Chavez.
 
Since winning office in April, Maduro has accused local political opponents of conniving with wealthy businessmen and their allies in the United States to undermine his government.
 
As well as saying they sabotaged the power grid, he has alleged that they plotted to assassinate him and want to destroy the economy through price-gouging and the hoarding of products.
 
Venezuelans are suffering from a 54 percent annual inflation rate, as well as scarcities of basic products from flour to toilet paper. Nationwide local municipal elections on Sunday are seen as a major test of Maduro's standing.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100 billion in 2002 are warned that time is running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More

Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

The Lancet publishes new series on HIV
More

Texas Gov. Perry Orders State National Guard to Border

Governor says he took extraordinary measure to help secure the border, his critics say it is a political stunt
More

Cuba Hopes for More Investment as Chinese President Arrives

Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a two-day visit to Cuba on Monday evening
More