Today (March 12) means Venezuelans have been 6 days immersed into darkness, as a massive nationwide blackout hit the country on Thursday evening.
As the Irish Times puts it, even though “power cuts have become frequent events in recent years as a result of an economic crisis, Thursday’s blackout was unprecedented due to its geographical reach and duration.”
Background to the Blackout
The origin was at the Guri hydroelectric plant, the second largest in the American continent and responsible for most of Venezuela’s electricity supply. However, information on its status has not been disclosed.
Nicolas Maduro, leader of the socialist party, blamed the events on the US, suggesting it was sabotage against his regime, as an “electricity war announced and led by US imperialism.” However, Juan Guaido, interim president of the country, has insisted it is the result of incompetence and corruption.
Guaido, through his Twitter account, reported a series of deaths caused by energy shortages, including patients who died in hospitals unable to operate without vital equipment. He estimated more than 40 deaths as a result of the blackout.
The collapse in Venezuela
Every hour that passes without power in Venezuela brings more chaos and stress to a country that is already in the limit. The blackout cut off much of the country’s phone network and caused internet traffic to collapse by 96 per cent, which has made things worst for Venezuelans inside the country, but also, for the ones abroad.
Venezuelans in the foreign community trying to contact their relatives have found it difficult the access to information, which has caused concern and suffering.
The hashtag #SOSVenezuela went trending once again in both Twitter and Instagram, with relatives expressing their concern for not knowing what is really going on in their country.
Since the Venezuelan government has not published enough information about the blackout and continues to blame the sabotage of the US authorities, it has not been possible to verify the reports. However, through social networks, citizens have expressed the difficulties they experience for the sixth day to find food and water.
What is not yet known with certainty is whether the shutdown was the product of accidents alone or if there was premeditation in its occurrence or prolongation. At the same time, it is not known why it has taken so long to resolve; although, experts have attributed the cause of the blackout to the lack of investment and maintenance to the Guri hydroelectric plant.