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Caracas blackout shuts schools

‘Sabotage’ behind problem at power plant
Residents cross a street in the dark after a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela on Thursday, March 7, 2019.
Residents cross a street in the dark after a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Reuters   |   Caracas   |   Published 08.03.19, 07:40 PM

Venezuela shut schools and suspended working hours on Friday after the capital Caracas and other major cities awoke without electricity for a second day due to a problem that struck the South American country’s main hydroelectric plant.

Much of Venezuela had no electricity since Thursday afternoon because of problems at the Guri dam plant, in a long blackout that affected the telephone network and the metro service in Caracas.

President Nicolas Maduro “has suspended classes and the working day today in order to facilitate the efforts for the recovery of electric service in the country”, wrote Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on her Twitter account.

On Thursday, the minister of electric energy Luis Motta Dominguez attributed the difficulties at the hydroelectric plant to “sabotage”, without providing further details.

Power cuts have become frequent in the OPEC member nation, which has suffered five years of deep recession and hyperinflation that has eroded the quality of public services.

In Caracas, scores of people walked through the streets early in the morning due to the closure of the metro, while others took the few buses that were circulating. Many had not realised the workday had been suspended because they were unable to watch television or listen to the news.

”This is a severe problem. It is not just any blackout,” said Luis Martinez, a 53-year-old walking to work in eastern Caracas.

Reuters witnesses could only corroborate that there was light in Puerto Ordaz, a city on Venezuela’s southern border with Brazil.

Venezuela has been mired in a political crisis since January, when Opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself as interim President invoking the Constitution.

He has been recognised by the US and dozens of countries, which say that Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent. Maduro, meanwhile, says that Guaido is a “puppet” of the US, whom he accuses of wanting to remove him from power.

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