Venezuela’s power was slowly being restored on Tuesday following another nationwide blackout, which Nicolas Maduro’s government blamed on “an electromagnetic attack”.
Over 90 per cent of the country was plunged into darkness on Monday afternoon, with public transport grinding to a halt and running water ceasing to flow.
Netblocks, a group monitoring internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela was knocked offline, with national connectivity at just six per cent. State television, a key way for the government to keep people informed, was also off the air, leaving frustrated Venezuelans to wonder how long they would be left in the dark.
Mr Maduro described the blackout as “a new criminal attack against the peace of the motherland”.
Jorge Rodriguez, the information minister, issued a statement on Twitter saying that the outage was due to “an electromagnetic attack”.
Atención!! El Gobierno Bolivariano se dirige al Pueblo de Venezuela pic.twitter.com/VYPYsPBW11
— Jorge Rodríguez (@jorgerpsuv) July 22, 2019
In reality Venezuela’s crumbling electric grid is collapsing due to years of neglect and poor maintenance in the struggling country. Furthermore, many of the engineers needed to maintain the structures have joined the four million who have fled to neighbouring nations.
Freddy Brito, appointed energy minister in June, after his predecessor lasted just two months, said on Tuesday that power had been restored in the capital, Caracas, and in five of the 23 states.
"We’re moving forward in the recovery of the national electricity system," he said, praising workers at the state-run power firm Corpoelec who he said were committed to returning life to normal.
Schools and offices were shut on Tuesday nationwide as efforts were made to restore power.
Juan Guaido, who has been trying since January to oust Mr Maduro, called for his supporters to rally outside the National Assembly.
"They tried to hide the tragedy by rationing supplies across the country," he said. "But their failure is evident: They destroyed the system and they don’t have answers."
A previous blackout, in March, left millions of Venezuelans without water or phone communication for nearly a week, heightening tensions in a country locked in a political and social crisis.