A failure in one of the Venezuelan national grid’s transmission lines reportedly cut power to nearly half of the oil-rich country, including in much of its capital, Caracas, on Tuesday.
The widespread blackouts reportedly affected the Capital District and 12 of Venezuela’s 23 states at about 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, cutting the lights in the west and center of the country. State news agency AVN reported that power was restored in most parts of the country by early evening, though outages in some areas persisted into the night. The country’s oil industry was unaffected by the blackout.
Deputy Energy Minister Franco Silva told a local television station that the blackout was caused by failures on several transmission lines that support the national grid.
However, in a live television address, President Nicolas Maduro alleged the blackout had been caused by sabotage by opposition groups. “Today, a dress rehearsal for an electrical coup was initiated against the Venezuelan people,” he reportedly said. The president pointed to “various signs” and “threats” of possible sabotage leading up to the day of the incident. “They have been talking about ‘operation tic tac,’” he announced.
Following a meeting on Wednesday with military and energy sector officials, Maduro announced the creation of a “Security and Intelligence Unit” to tackle future cases of sabotage to the country’s power structure.
“We must consolidate the balance between generation and consumption, concentrating efforts on the security of the system against calculated sabotage,” the president tweeted on Wednesday.
Venezuela has long suffered power supply inefficiencies and frequent blackouts. In 2011, the government had declared an emergency in the power sector due to a lack of investments and infrastructure issues.
Sources: POWER, AVN, Twitter