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'The electric war': Major power failure in Venezuela leaves much of the country in the dark

Key Points
  • A vast power failure plunged the capital city of Caracas into almost complete darkness during rush hour on Thursday, before extending to other areas.
  • At least 18 of the country's 23 states had been affected by the outage, according to local media.
  • "No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said via Twitter on Friday.
VIDEO6:1606:16
Venezuela's Juan Guaidó is going up against Maduro's regime

Most of crisis-stricken Venezuela has been hit by an electricity blackout.

A vast power failure plunged the capital city of Caracas into almost complete darkness during rush hour on Thursday, before extending to other areas.

At least 18 of the country's 23 states had been affected by the outage, according to local media. CNBC has no further information on the current status of the outage.

It comes at a time when Venezuela is in the midst of the Western Hemisphere's worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory.

President Nicolas Maduro claimed the opposition was responsible for the major power failure, accusing National Assembly leader Juan Guaido of working with the U.S. in a campaign to overthrow him.

"The electric war announced and directed by U.S. imperialism against our people will be defeated," President Nicolas Maduro said via Twitter on Friday.

"Nothing and no one will be able to defeat the people of Bolivar and Chavez. Maximum unity of the patriots!"

'Chaos, concern, indignation'

Venezuela has often faced blackouts in the past but the latest one appears to be its biggest yet, with millions of citizens reportedly affected across the country.

The lack of electricity also caused flights to be diverted away from the capital city, where thousands of workers were forced to walk home.

A couple walks along a street during a power cut in Caracas on March 7, 2019. - The government of Nicolas Maduro denounced a 'sabotage' against the main electric power dam in the country, after a massive blackout left Caracas and vast regions of Venezuela in the darkness.
YURI CORTEZ | AFP

Guaido said on Friday that the power failure was a matter of "chaos, concern and indignation" and "evidence of the usurper's inefficiency."

"Light would return" once Maduro was finally removed from power, he added.

Venezuela's domestic electricity supply is largely dependent on its vast hydroelectric infrastructure, rather than its oil reserves.

However, rolling blackouts and water shortages have become a near daily occurrence in recent years, after a sustained period of economic mismanagement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said via Twitter on Friday that the "incompetence" of Maduro's regime was solely to blame for the "power outage and devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans."

"No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro," Pompeo said.

Uncharted territory

Pressure is building on Maduro to step down.

The socialist leader has overseen a long economic meltdown, marked by hyperinflation, mounting U.S. sanctions and collapsing oil production.

As a result, some three million Venezuelans have fled abroad over the past five years to escape worsening living conditions.

More than 50 countries, including the U.S. and most Latin American and European countries, have now recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

It has thrust Venezuela into uncharted territory — whereby it now has an internationally-recognized government, with no control over state functions, running parallel to Maduro's regime.