Widespread Blackout Hits Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -
venezuela blackout
People ride in a bus during a blackout in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

At least 14 Venezuelan states lost power on Monday, according to Reuters witnesses and reports on social media, the first nationwide blackout to include the capital Caracas since March.

Venezuela suffered a series of blackouts in March, the worst in decades, that left millions of people without running water and telecommunications. That exacerbated an economic crisis that has halved the size of the economy.

Information Minister Jorge Rodrigues said the blackout was caused by an “electromagnetic attack” and that authorities were in the process of reestablishing service.

“It terrifies me to think we are facing a national blackout again,” said Maria Luisa Rivero, a 45-year-old business owner from the city of Valencia, in the central state of Carabobo. “The first thing I did was run to freeze my food so that it does not go bad like it did like the last time in March. It costs a lot to buy food just to lose it.”

venezuela blackout
A man walks at a parking garage during the blackout. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

The oil-rich country’s hyperinflationary economic crisis has led to widespread shortages in food and medicine, prompting over four million Venezuelans to leave the country.

Venezuela‘s national power grid has fallen into disrepair after years without investment and insufficient maintenance, according to the opposition and power experts.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the blackouts on sabotage coordinated by the United States.

“These blackouts are catastrophic,” said 51-year-old janitor Bernardina Guerra, who lives in Caracas. “I live in the eastern part of the city and there the lights go out every day. Each day things are worse.”