Venezuelan blackout eases in some areas; opposition rallies

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's o pposition yesterday sought to harness anger over a massive blackout that deepened hardship nationwide, but turnout at a Caracas demonstration was relatively modest as many Venezuelans despair of an imminent solution to their plight.

Lights came back on in parts of the capital and other areas of Venezuela overnight following a nearly nine-hour outage that the Government blamed on an “electromagnetic attack” against the power grid, without providing any evidence. Government opponents say years of mismanagement and corruption were to blame.

Electricity supply remained unstable in many regions. The blackout knocked out communications and the Caracas metro on Monday, forcing commuters to walk home or hustle for a spot on packed buses. The metro remained out of operation yesterday.

The scenes in the capital were familiar, even though Caracas has been mostly spared the debilitating power cuts that persisted in other parts of the country after nationwide outages in March. The latest blackout didn't make much difference to people with scarce power in Maracaibo, Venezuela's second-largest city.

Maritza Arámbula, a Maracaibo resident, said she was tired of a government that makes “excuses” and an opposition continually seeking support from Venezuela's exhausted citizens.

“We need solutions, not promises,” Arámbula said. “Not having light makes me sick.”

In Caracas, the opposition-led congress held a session in a main square to try to keep pressure on the Government of President Nicolás Maduro, who has defied US-led efforts to oust him. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó appeared in front of bunting in the colours of the Venezuelan flag — red, blue and yellow — and said, as he often has in the past, that the Government he calls a “dictatorship” is crumbling.

“We have to win,” he said.

At the gathering, the Congress approved Venezuela's return to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, a US-led defence pact that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation's crisis. However, Maduro's Government was not expected to heed the Opposition move.

In addition to congress deputies, hundreds of other people attended the event, a smaller crowd than the throngs that poured into the streets in January when Guaidó declared he was interim president and that Maduro's 2018 re-election was a sham. Some activists said the turnout was low because public transport wasn't available, though Opposition demonstrations in Caracas have diminished in size over several months.

In January, expectations of change were high among many Venezuelans. But Maduro dug in, maintaining the support of Russia, Cuba and Venezuelan military leaders who ignored an Opposition attempt to stoke a military rebellion on April 30. Now negotiations mediated by Norway are underway, worrying Opposition activists who fear the Government is playing for time.

Guaidó tweeted about the nationwide blackout, blaming it on the incompetence of a Government that claims to espouse the socialist principles of Maduro's late predecessor, Hugo Chávez.

“For Venezuelans, it's not an option to get used to this tragedy,” he said.

The Venezuelan Government blamed sabotage, echoing allegations that the United States was behind nearly a week of blackouts in March that were allegedly aimed at forcing out Maduro. US officials have scoffed at the suggestion.

Venezuelan officials suspended school and work yesterday for most Venezuelans because of the power failure, though Energy Minister Freddy Brito said Government workers were restoring power across the country.

Netblocks, a group monitoring Internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela had been knocked offline with national connectivity at just six per cent after the outages on Monday.

Venezuela was once a wealthy oil nation, but an estimated four million residents have emigrated, tired of shortages of electricity and water, as well as food and medicine. US sanctions have added to an economic crisis that has escalated for years, according to experts.

The Lima Group, which includes Canada and some Latin American countries, held a meeting yesterday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to rally international support for Guaidó and condemnation of human rights violations under the Venezuelan Government. Maduro backers said the Venezuelan Opposition has fomented violence.

“The crisis is getting worse and requires an urgent solution through a transition with credible, transparent, free and fair elections, with the help of the international community,” said Néstor Popolizio, the Peruvian foreign minister.

While Venezuela's future is unclear for many, an Opposition activist wearing a Venezuelan flag around her shoulders like a cape said one thing is certain: The blackout in Caracas this week won't be the last.

“What we went through last night will happen again,” said Adriana Caluogno, a computer programmer.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon