Venezuelan capital resumes activities after blackout

The electricity service recovered in Caracas and in at least 10 of the 23 states of the country after a failure that was recorded on Monday at 16:45

Several people walk through the streets of Caracas after a massive blackout left the city and other parts of the country without electricity, in Caracas, Venezuela

Several people walk through the streets of Caracas after a massive blackout left the city and other parts of the country without electricity, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday, July 22, 2019. (AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos)

AP | Fabiola Sánchez

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With almost desolate streets and hundreds of shops closed, the Venezuelan capital began the day on Tuesday after almost nine hours of blackout that still persists in some regions and that the authorities attributed to an "electromagnetic attack" to the main hydroelectric power station in Venezuela.

Leer en español: La capital de Venezuela retoma actividades tras apagón

After midnight, the electricity service was gradually recovered in the capital in at least 10 of the 23 states of the country after a failure that occurred on Monday at 4:45 p.m., authorities said.

The Minister of Electricity, Freddy Brito, said on his Twitter account that the service had been recovered in Caracas as well as in the states of Mérida, Trujillo, Barinas, and Aragua, and that work was continuing to restore the light in the rest of the entities

In the middle of the morning, there were new failures in the electric service in some areas of the capital, according to users reported on social networks.

The state's Metro service, which is the city's main means of transportation, announced Tuesday that it would not operate as a result of the failure.

As a contingency measure, the government agreed on Tuesday to suspend work and educational activities to facilitate the recovery of the electrical system, which since March entered into a crisis after a major national blackout that lasted for almost five days.

Although work activities were suspended, some banking agencies in the east of the city opened their offices to serve dozens of retirees who today collect their pension.

Since dawn, Rafael Lara, a 79-year-old carpenter, remained to wait, along with about twenty people, in front of a banking agency for operations to begin.

“You have to wait for the answer to see what the government says about the blackout. Surely they will say that it is sabotage as usual,” said Lara, recognizing that many Venezuelans have already become accustomed to the recurring electrical failures facing the South American country for several years.

The thin carpenter of dark complexion reported that the new blackout caught him at his home, located in a popular neighborhood in the east of the city and that he had to go to bed without eating because he had no way to cook. "I just had a glass of milk and so I went to bed."

"I had to walk several streets during the morning to get to the bank because I didn't get a car," said Maria Auxiliadora Campos, a 68-year-old retiree, while waiting at the bank doors to collect her monthly pension of about four Dollars.

Hours after the national blackout began, the Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, announced to the country that the fault was a consequence of an “electromagnetic attack” that sought to affect the Guayana hydroelectric plant, which generates more than 60% of the electricity of the country and is located in the southeast state of Bolívar.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Juan Guaidó said the event was a result of the "failure" of the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

"For Venezuelans, it is not an option to get used to this tragedy," Guaidó said on his Twitter account on Tuesday. The leader said that nine states remained without power and that only seven had recovered the electric service.

The leader invited his followers to go out on Tuesday to the streets of the whole country to protest what he considered a "disaster."

The electrical engineer Miguel Lara attributed the failure to which Corpoelec is operating the electrical system under "limit risk" conditions. In his Twitter account, he explained that, given this situation, any contingency or minor events result in a national blackout.

For several years, the South American country has faced several electrical crises that the authorities have attributed to plots and sabotage actions.

Also read: Lobbyist: Venezuela's Falcón not seeking presidency

Analysts and opponents argue that the failures are a consequence of the lack of maintenance of the equipment, poor training of personnel and alleged irregularities in the acquisition of plants and generators in recent years.

On March 7, the one that until now has been the worst blackout in Venezuelan history, which lasted four days nationwide. Those failures not only caused interruptions in communications - internet and telephony - but also problems in the water supply.

The Maduro government denounced at that time that the power outages were due to alleged "electromagnetic" and "cyber attacks" led by the United States, or even a firearm attack on an electrical installation allegedly perpetrated by local opposition politicians.

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