Venezuela Shuts Schools and Tells Workers to Stay Home After Big Power Cuts

Daniel Cancel
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Venezuela Shuts Schools and Tells Workers to Stay Home After Big Power Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s government suspended school and told workers to stay home on Tuesday after electricity failures in large parts of the country.

While the communications minister and vice president initially said that the blackout that began Monday afternoon had been resolved, laying blame on an “attack” of the system by political opponents, the lights went out again in the capital city Caracas in the evening.

The South American country was recovering from a crippling week-long power failure earlier this month that sparked looting in major cities, exacerbated emergencies in hospitals without generators and spoiled food at a time when many Venezuelans are struggling to eat three meals a day. President Nicolas Maduro continues to blame the U.S. and domestic opponents for sabotage and attacks on the grid while the opposition says his regime has failed to invest and maintain the aging infrastructure.

“We’ll win this electrical war with the great strength of our people that’s been accumulated through the fight against empires and their local lackeys,” Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez was quoted as saying by the official presidential press Twitter account. The suspension of school and work was posted on the same page.

A fault in a high-voltage line shut down 11 of 12 turbines at the Macagua hydroelectric plant, cutting 1,810 megawatts of electricity from the national grid, according to a report from the state power company seen by Bloomberg. The system operates on a total of 10,000 megawatts.

Juan Guiado, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly who is now recognized by about 60 countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela due to alleged fraudulent elections last year, said the people no longer believe the governments excuses.

“In the middle of the angst of darkness, when our people need to be assured during another blackout, how can they pretend to keep repeating the same excuses of ‘electrical war and sabotage?” Guaido wrote on his Twitter account. “They’re corrupt liars.”

--With assistance from Fabiola Zerpa.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Cancel in Sao Paulo at dcancel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at papadopoulos@bloomberg.net, Katerina Petroff

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