Venezuelan minister describes large-scale blackout as act of aggression

Venezuelan minister describes large-scale blackout as act of aggression

A cyber-attack is likely the reason for the major blackout that left most of Venezuela in darkness, a Maduro government official said, hinting that the USA may be involved in the offensive.

Venezuela is "victim of the imperial electrical war!"

Guaido took to Twitter to blast Maduro for the outage.

In a defiant tweet early on Saturday he vowed to battle the "brutal aggression against our people", adding: "We will never surrender".

When more generators were brought to supply emergency power, they weren't enough. "Without light. Total madness", he said.

The blackout is reported to have hit 22 of 23 states, arriving during rush hour on Thursday.

Venezuelans, meanwhile, are bracing themselves for a weekend of pro- and anti-government protests. One woman was sprayed with pepper spray, according to a local broadcaster.

What happened with the power cuts?

Electricity is being gradually restored across Venezuela. Several columns of security forces moved on motorcycles.

Marielsi Aray, a patient at the University Hospital suffering from an aggravated infection, died at dawn on Friday after her respirator stopped working, her uncle Jose Lugo said.

"We're all upset that we've got no power, no phone service, no water and they want to block us", said Rossmary Nascimiento, 45, a nutritionist at the Caracas rally. "Without electricity I can not buy anything", she told AFP.

Much of the nation of 31 million people was still without electricity as the blackout stretched into a second day and patience began to wear thin.

The Socialist Party has called for a competing march to protest what it calls imperialism by the United States, which has levied crippling oil sanctions on Maduro's government in efforts to cut off its sources of funding.

Mr Guaidó hit back, urging Venezuelans to demonstrate on Saturday "against the usurping, corrupt and incompetent regime that has put our country in the dark".

Zaida Rodriguez, 40, a cardiovascular technician, walked several miles to the private clinic where she works only to be told by bosses that she should leave because the facility would treat only urgent cases and operate with a skeleton staff in order to save on power.

Venezuela has been plunged into darkness after a major failure in the national power grid, one that embattled President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on anti-government saboteurs.

As night set in, the nationwide outage dragged on and some people in Caracas banged pots and pans - a traditional Latin American method of letting off steam.

They are nothing new. But critics have blamed corruption among officials and under investment in the national power grid, Reuters explained.

The rallies come amid a power crisis that led to the country's worst blackouts in decades. "The little food we have is going bad".

What's the background to the political crisis?

But on Saturday, Maduro stepped up verbal attacks on Guaido, calling him "a clown and puppet" in a speech to supporters outside Miraflores, the presidential palace.

The nation is experiencing hyperinflation projected to reach a mind-boggling 10 million percent this year, is grappling with food and medical shortages, and has lost about 10 percent of its population to migration in the past few years - including many with valuable energy expertise.

U.S. President Donald Trump's special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said financial institutions which support President Nicolas Maduro will be slapped with more sanctions.

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