Venezuela hit by major blackout, gov’t blames 'sabotage'

Trump's Venezuela Envoy Vows Sanctions On Banks Backing Nicolas Maduro

INTO DARKNESS: Venezuela Thrust into Chaos as Power Goes Out Across the Country

Power was gradually being restored to large areas of Caracas on Friday afternoon, as well as parts of Miranda state and Vargas, which contains the country's global airport and main port.

"They always say the same thing", said Carlos Ramos, an economist who was waiting to see a doctor outside the darkened lobby of a Caracas hospital.

The sanctions impacted the Maduro regime's main source of revenue, but the Venezuelan dictator has resisted calls to step down and cede leadership of the country to opposition party leader Juan Guaido.

"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.

Guaido did a survey of Caracas Friday to evaluate the impact of the blackout, blaming Maduro for the sorry state of affairs and looking to capitalize on what some decried as a sign of Venezuela's newfound status as a "failed state" even though it sits atop the world's largest oil reserves.

Trump's Venezuela Envoy Vows Sanctions On Banks Backing Nicolas Maduro

The outage had left most of the country in chaos, crippling day-to-day functioning of hospitals and other public services, according to local press reports.

But US national security advisor John Bolton blamed the blackout on "years of Mr Maduro's corruption, under-investment, and neglected maintenance".

Meanwhile, demonstrators at the pro-Maduro rally danced and waved flags on what organisers labelled a "day of anti-imperialism" in a show of defiance towards the United States, which has imposed oil sanctions on Venezuela in an attempt to oust the president.

President Maduro, however, has blamed the outages on "sabotage".

The outage comes as Venezuela is in the throes of a political struggle between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by about 50 nations as Venezuela's rightful president.

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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.

President Donald Trump placed sanctions on US assets controlled by PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, on January 28.

Customers line up at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 8, 2019.

"Maduro's policies bring nothing but darkness". "No food. No medicine". Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez described it as a "cyber" attack meant to derail the whole system. "Now, no power. Next, no Maduro". The capital's worldwide airport was hit, according to social media posts from would-be travelers.

Washington this week revoked the US visas of senior Venezuelan officials and said on Wednesday it had identified efforts by Maduro to work with foreign banks to move and hide money.

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Critics blame the government for failing to invest in maintaining the electrical grid, although the government often points the finger at external factors when the lights go out. A man anguished that he'd gone 17 hours without hearing from his mother.

Netblocks, a non-government group based in Europe that monitors internet censorship, said Saturday a second outage had knocked out nearly all of Venezuela's telecommunications infrastructure.

Mr Maduro ordered schools and all government offices to closed and told businesses stay shut to help work crews trying to restore power.

As the blackout wore on, the patience of many Venezuelans was wearing thin. Business owners griped over losses that were certain to compound their already bleak economic outlook.

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