In Venezuela, massive blackout continues as Maduro blames U.S. for outages
By Mary Beth Sheridan and
Mariana Zuñiga March 8 at 3:26 PM
CARACAS, Venezuela — One of the severest power outages in Venezuelan history ravaged the country for a second day Friday, with hospital patients languishing in the dark, most supermarkets closed and phone service largely knocked out in the oil-rich but economically collapsing country.
Venezuela, which has been roiled by a political struggle between President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó, has been hit by outages before. But the blackout that began Thursday evening is the longest and most widespread in recent memory, a sign of the rapid deterioration of the economy, which is expected to contract sharply in the next few weeks as U.S. sanctions on the oil industry begin to bite. Some analysts even worry that the country — once among the richest in South America — could face famine.
Power began to flicker on in Caracas and other parts of the country Friday afternoon. But around the country, most stores and restaurants were closed, and few cars ventured into the streets. The outage also stalled refineries and oil plants, the source of nearly all of Venezuela’s export revenue. NetBlocks, a nongovernmental organization that tracks Internet disruptions around the globe, said the Internet outage was massive in Venezuela; at one point, only 2 percent of the country had connectivity.