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Venezuela Blames 'Electromagnetic Attack' for Massive Blackout

Maduro's opponents say corruption is the real culprit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2019 12:10 AM CDT
People walk in the streets of Caracas after a massive blackout left the city and other parts of the country without electricity, in Caracas Venezuela, Monday, July 22, 2019.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
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(Newser) – The lights went out across much of Venezuela on Monday, reviving fears of the blackouts that plunged the country into chaos a few months ago as the government once again accused opponents of sabotaging the nation's hydroelectric power system. The power in the capital went out after 4pm and immediately backed up traffic as stop lights and the subway stopped working during rush hour, the AP reports. "This is horrible, a disaster," Reni Blanco, a 48-year-old teacher, said as she joined a crush of people who flooded the streets trying to make it home before nightfall. Almost three hours into the blackout, authorities broke their silence and blamed an "electromagnetic attack" on a series of dams located in southern Venezuela—the same culprit it attributed an almost week-long outage in March that left millions of Venezuelans without water or the ability to communicate with loved ones.

"Those who've systematically attacked the noble people of Venezuela in all kinds of ways will once again be confronted with the mettle and courage that we, the children of our liberator Simón Bolívar, have demonstrated in the face of difficulties," Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez said in a statement read on state TV. He said authorities were working to restore electricity as quickly as possible. Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro said the outage laid bare years of underinvestment in the nation's grid by corrupt officials who mismanaged an oil bonanza in the nation sitting atop the world's largest crude reserves. "They tried to hide the tragedy by rationing supplies across the country, but their failure is evident: they destroyed the system and they don't have answers," opposition leader Juan Guaidó said on Twitter.

(Read more Venezuela stories.)

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