Blackouts in Venezuela Cause Turmoil

March was filled with countless protests in Venezuela against Nicolás Maduro’s administration and in support of acting President Juan Guaidó. Another important cause of these manifestations was the series of blackouts that struck the country beginning on March 8 and continued at various lengths throughout the month, leaving hundreds of thousands of people at a time without water or electricity.

Power outages and water shortages have not been uncommon in Venezuela since the economic condition of the country began to decline. Two of the largest blackouts of the month began on March 8 and March 25, as a result of issues at the Guri hydroelectric plant. The plant serves approximately 70 percent of the country..

The blackouts have been indiscriminate, resulting in completely dark towns and cities. According to NPR’s Philip Reeves, Venezuela’s poor have found themselves standing in lines in the streets hoping to find food and water, while the wealthy have moved to luxury hotels because they do not have access to electricity in their homes.

According to Maduro and his supporters, the United States caused the blackout by sabotaging the country’s electrical grid. Maduro stated that the country’s power grid was “penetrated by a virus and hacked by the North.”

In contrast, Guaidó asserted that the blackout was caused by years of incompetence and ignorance from the Venezuelan government that culminated with the deterioration of the country’s power grid. “We all know who is responsible for the blackout—Maduro… We must accelerate the process to remove this corrupt and thieving regime,” he said at a rally in late March.

Hospitals in Venezuela are already face a shortage of supplies, including gauze, medicine, and even bed sheets. The addition of power and water outages further reduced the ability of hospitals to attend to their patients. At least 46 patients have died due to the first power blackout. The blackouts have continued on and off into April, furthering the harm and strife of the Venezuelan population amidst a humanitarian crisis.

Yuderkis Varela of San Cristobal in Táchira declared, “Enough of all this humiliation, we do not deserve to live like this… We don’t have power, we don’t have water, we don’t have gas.”