CARACAS: Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday blamed the “desperate” United States for a major power cut that affected large parts of the crisis-wracked country on Monday.
The outage left chaos on the streets of the capital Caracas as traffic lights lost power, while many people were forced to walk home from work as the metro had stopped running.
The blackout, in a country that regularly suffers power cuts, exacerbated the problems faced by Venezuela’s population, including shortages of basic necessities and failing public services.
Speaking at the opening of military exercises that will last until the end of next month, Maduro said the blackout was caused by a “high-tech electromagnetic attack.”
“US imperialism is desperate because of its defeats in Venezuela,” said Maduro in a speech carried on radio and television.
Power had been restored in much of Venezuela on Tuesday, according to the government, although opposition leader Juan Guaido denied that, saying that 16 of the country’s 23 states were still facing at least a partial outage.
Guaido, whose declaration in January that he was acting president plunged Venezuela into a political crisis, on Monday pointed the finger at the government.
“They’ve destroyed the electricity system and they don’t have any answers,” said Guaido, who is recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries, including the US.
The government blamed sabotage at a hydroelectric plant that provides 80 percent of the country’s power for Monday’s incident.
That was the same excuse given in March when another massive nationwide blackout left the oil-rich but cash-strapped country in darkness for a week.
Then as now, Maduro’s government blamed Washington and the opposition.
Maduro said the electricity system has suffered “dozens of attacks” over the last four months.
Experts say that a lack of investment, poor management, the emigration of qualified engineers and personnel, and corruption are the most likely culprits for the regular outages.