Much of Venezuela in Darkness Thanks to Massive Blackout

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Clinics in the sweltering western state of Zulia, which suffers chronic regional blackouts, had scaled back operations after almost 72 hours without power.

Also on rt.com Back to square one?

The Socialist Party has called for a competing march on Saturday to protest against what it calls imperialism by the United States. Marco Rubio were behind the blackout, although he offered no proof. Nothing and no one can defeat the people of Bolivar and Chavez. However, the US Department of State denied any involvement. The capital's global airport was hit, according to social media posts from would-be travelers. Sabotage is burning food and medicine. "Now, no power. Next, no Maduro".

Meanwhile, backers of President Nicolas Maduro planned to hold a rival demonstration as power returned to many parts of Venezuela after the country's worst blackout.

Without power to charge cell phones, normally hyper-active social media was eerily quiet.

Shops remained closed in Caracas and elsewhere on Friday due to the massive power outage.

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.

By early Friday afternoon, sporadic power was starting to return.

Emilse Arellano said urgent dialysis for her youngest child had to be canceled Friday, after a night during which staff worked by the light of cellphones. The outage had left most of the country in disarray, crippling day-to-day functioning of hospitals and other public services, according to local press reports. "The blackout forced hospital nurses to monitor patients, including premature babies in incubators, while holding candles".

Others had to walk long distances to get home.

Venezuela's electrical system, once the most efficient in Latin America, has fallen into a state of disrepair after years of poor maintenance and mismanagement. High-ranking officials have been accused in US court proceedings of looting government money earmarked for the electrical system.

Outages have become a regular occurrence in Venezuela though Thursday's outage appeared to be wider in reach than usual. The capital Caracas, usually spared electrical cuts, was struck at the peak of rush hour.

Mr Maduro blamed the power cuts on right-wing extremists they claimed were operating under orders from the United States. Rodriguez described it as a "cyber" attack meant to derail the whole system. Venezuelan officials promised on Thursday power would be restored within hours.

"What's the intention?" he said.

The state-owned electricity operator blamed the outage on an "attack" on Guri Dam, the cornerstone of Venezuela's electrical grid.

"Venezuela knows that the light will arrive with the end of the usurpation", he tweeted. "They keep making excuses, they keep looking for scapegoats, when corruption, calamity are what have caused this situation". Maduro accuses Guaido of conspiring with the Trump administration in a campaign to overthrow him.

Julio Castro, a doctor who heads a non-government organization called Doctors For Health, said via Twitter that a total of 13 people had died amid the blackout, including nine deaths in emergency rooms. "I must have pressed the wrong thing on the "electronic attack" app I downloaded from Apple". A snarl of cars jammed the streets amid confusion generated by blackened stoplights. At least 18 of 23 states were plunged into darkness Thursday evening.

"Flight! Flight! Flight!" they cried out. "It is not just any blackout", said Luis Martinez, a 53-year-old construction worker walking to work in eastern Caracas. Business owners griped over losses certain to compound an already bleak economic outlook.

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