Week-long power outage comes to an end

Juan Guaido speaks at a protest against Nicolás Maduro on Feb. 2, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela.//Photo Courtesy Alexcocopro/Wikimedia

After a week of complete darkness, the power outage that took electricity from most of Venezuela is finally over according to Jorge Rodriguez, the country’s information minister, on Wednesday.

Self-declared interim president Juan Guaido is a major opposition leader to disputed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and declared in an interview with CNN’s Patrick Oppmann that “(Venezuela is) in the middle of a catastrophe…(that’s) the product of the inefficiency, the incapability, the corruption of a regime that doesn’t care about the lives of Venezuelans.”

While most work activities resumed around the country, school activities remained suspended for an additional 24 hours. Citizens were urged to unplug appliances and turn out lights by Rodriguez.

During the blackout, restaurants and supermarkets closed down as food began to rot. Police have had to intervene in looting attempts at food markets. Mismanagement and corruption has caused Venezuela’s power grid to decay over the past decade. This has led to the collapse of telecommunication networks.

Netblocks, a non-government group based in Europe that monitors Internet censorship, said online connectivity data indicates the outage is the largest in recent record in Latin America.

19 of the 23 states in Venezuela were affected by the power outage, causing chaos in hospitals, work places and schools, and leaving many without running water. The country’s capital is home to two million people who went without water for four days.

Now, according to the minister, 80 percent of the country and 70 percent of Caracas now has drinking water.

United Nation spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “We are very concerned about the serious humanitarian impact that the power outage is having in Venezuela, as well as about reported incidents of looting and violence throughout the country.”

According to Guiado, the private sector lost at least $400 million from the blackout. The United States attributes to the outages to the incompetence of Maduro’s regime.

Guaido blames poor maintenance from the failure to trim vegetation near major power lines, which caught fire. Even in some places where power was restored, it failed again hours later. Public transportation throughout the nation was halted and the Caracas metro was shutdown, while hospitals have had to rely on generators where available.

Last year, controversy surrounded Maduro’s reelection, which Guaido and the National Assembly party found illegitimate due to fraud.

Power outages have been nothing new to the nation in recent years. A nationwide power outage hit the country last October, affecting 16 of Venezuela’s 24 states. The country experienced 18,000 power outages in 2017 alone.

Venezuela ranked 168 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Index, appearing as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. According to Moises Rendon, Associate Director and Associate Fellow of the Americas Program, Maduro’s regime “is a threat to peace and security.”