Venezuela Suspends School and Business Activities as Massive Power Outages Continue to Grip Country

A worker stands inside a bakery during an ongoing blackout in Caracas, Venezuela March 10, 2019. (REUTERS/Manaure Quintero)
A worker stands inside a bakery during an ongoing blackout in Caracas, Venezuela March 10, 2019. (REUTERS/Manaure Quintero)

Venezuela is suspending school and business activities on Monday amid a continuing blackout, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a televised broadcast on Sunday, the second such cancellation since power went out last week.

–Reuters

When night falls on Venezuela’s ghostly capital, an unnerving hush grips the streets of this once-bustling South American metropolis.

“You feel a profound silence all around you,” said Alejandro Guzmán, a 26-year-old lawyer and one of millions of Venezuelans left in the dark after their country was hit by an unprecedented blackout some believe could have dramatic implications for its political future. “It’s like a city of shadows.”

Like many Venezuelans, Guzmán has spent most of the last three days without electricity after a crippling outage – that Nicolás Maduro’s beleaguered administration is blaming on foreign saboteurs – struck at about 5pm Thursday afternoon plunging virtually the entire country into the gloom.

“I feel frustrated and I feel angry about what is happening – but we saw this coming,” Guzmán said on Sunday lunchtime, shortly after the lights came back on in his neighbourhood of eastern Caracas.

Guzmán’s elderly grandmother, aged 80 and suffering from Alzheimer’s, was less lucky. Across town, in the western municipality of Libertador, she remained in the dark.

“The situation is critical,” her grandson said. “She has people who love her around her. But everyone at her age in this situation is in danger.”

The Chavista mayor of Caracas, Érika Farías, told state media on Sunday that electricity supply had been restored to 22 of the city’s 32 parishes.

But as Venezuela’s blackout entered a fourth day there was anger, exasperation and growing fear over the human toll the dramatic collapse of its electricity system would take.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, by Joe Parkin Daniels, Patricia Torres, and Tom Phillips