Power Outages Slam Most of Venezuela

The capital Caracas was a mess during Thursday's rush hour
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2019 7:03 AM CST
Nationwide Blackouts Tumble Venezuela Into Darkness
Mothers and relatives wait outside of an intensive care room for babies at a clinic during a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela has been plagued by confusion and violence over the past few weeks, and now a new problem is exacerbating things: power outages across most of the country. The AP reports that blackouts have hit 22 of the country's 23 states, slamming the capital of Caracas at rush hour on Thursday. People had to be rescued from elevators, nurses scrambled to help preemies in incubators, and commuters who couldn't ride the subways or drive due to blacked-out stoplights walked home. The BBC notes that although Venezuela has suffered power outages before, they've become more common since the power grid was nationalized in 2007. Government officials under President Nicolas Maduro have blamed, among other things, animals such as iguanas for sneaking into electrical substations and triggering the blackouts.

The state-owned electricity operator, Corpoelec, claims an act of "sabotage" at a major hydroelectric station plunged the nation into darkness this time around. Others who back opposition leader Juan Guaido, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, say the blackouts "are the result of the Maduro regime's incompetence." Some tied to the socialist government are even (without evidence) blaming US Sen. Marco Rubio, who's been very vocal in his anti-Maduro stance, claiming he's behind the scenes directing right-wing extremists. "My apologies to people of Venezuela," Rubio sarcastically tweeted. "I must have pressed the wrong thing on the 'electronic attack' app I downloaded from Apple. My bad." (More Venezuela stories.)

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