Much of Venezuela is still in the dark — now four days running — after the worst blackout on modern record in Latin America enveloped the country last Thursday evening. And as of Saturday, Reuters reported at least 17 deaths at hospitals across the country attributable to the power outage, given many hospitals are now for days completely reliant on back-up generators to keep life saving ventilators and other medical devices going. Other reports have claimed multiple dozens of deaths across the country, especially in hospital neonatal units.
Embattled socialist president Nicolas Maduro has continued to blame the crisis on an act of “sabotage” by the United States at the Guri hydroelectric dam, for which he’s mobilized troops toprotect the national electricity system for the duration of the power outage. However, most analysts agree the electrical grid mass failure is the result of generally failing infrastructure after years of underinvestment and neglect. Lights off across Caracas, photo taken on March 9, via AFP
Following claims made through state TV social media of an “electricity war” being waged by the US and the Venezuelan foreign-backed opposition, Maduro stated on Twitter Sunday: “The national electrical system has been subject to multiple cyberattacks,” and he added, “However, we are making huge efforts to restore stable and definitive supply in the coming hours.”
Over a weekend in which most major cities and towns remained in darkness and without internet, problems compounded as Venezuela’s already aging and mismanaged infrastructure continues to collapse in a domino effect of crises precipitated by the electrical grid mass failure, including endangerment to hospital patients on ventilators and other medical devices, shuttered businesses, and cash-only transactions, which remains difficult given the essentially worthless value of the local bolivar.
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