Nicolas Maduro’s embattled administration has called for calm after millions of Venezuelans were again plunged into darkness by a nationwide blackout reportedly affecting 21 of its 23 states and the capital, Caracas.
In a late-night television broadcast, the communications minister, Jorge Rodríguez, claimed it was the result of a “brutal” attack on a hydroelectric plant on Monday night, Guardian informs.
The blackout, which had yet to be resolved by Tuesday morning, came a fortnight after virtually the entire country was paralysed by a six-day power failure.
“We want to ask the people of Venezuela to assist us in this recovery process by continuing to show the tranquility and strength we have demonstrated in recent days because we will manage to defeat this electricity war against the people of Venezuela,” Rodríguez said. “We are working with great determination.”
Earlier, his sister, the vice-president Delcy Rodríguez, accused Venezuela’s “fascist right” and its “imperial masters” in Washington of causing another major blackout that struck on Monday lunchtime and affected at least 16 states.
Neither offered evidence that anti-Maduro “saboteurs” were behind Venezuela’s blackouts. Many people suspect they are the result of crumbling infrastructure caused by years of corruption, incompetence and under-investment.
Others, however, are convinced by the government’s claim that the blackouts are part of a US conspiracy to destabilise the country and topple Maduro.
At a recent pro-Maduro rally in Caracas, the Chavista activist and historian Jose Corredor claimed the blackouts had been “cooked up” by the opposition and the White House in order to provoke chaos that would allow them to seize power – and Venezuela’s natural resources, Guardian adds.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry says that Russian military personnel that arrived in Venezuela over the weekend has every right to be there, New York Post writes.
The rift between Russia and the United States over how to resolve the crisis in Venezuela widened following the arrival of Russian military personnel to support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over the weekend.
In Moscow’s first comment on the reports of the deployment, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement late on Tuesday that Russia has sent personnel “in strict accordance” with the Venezuelan constitution and a bilateral agreement on military cooperation.