Electricity: Venezuela in a black hole


Deprived of light, water and means of transport, the Venezuelans lived on Sunday the third day without electricity, after a massive rupture and never seen, which affected 80% of the population. At least fifteen renal patients have died in dialysis hospitals where the generators have worked poorly or have not worked at all. With growing anxiety in a context of acute food shortage, families watched helplessly as food stored in the freezer became unfit for consumption.

From the beginning of the cut, Thursday just before 17 hours, the country (still oil producer) is almost still, with shops and schools closed and transport paralyzed. In Caracas and its suburbs, where 6 million people live, the current has returned only briefly on Saturday. Deprived of television and internet connection, residents can not resort to social networks because they can not charge mobile phones.

Flights canceled

The power outages of several hours are still normal for some years in the country, but have little touched the capital. The metro does not work anymore and hundreds of passengers on canceled flights are waiting at the Caracas International Airport. Even the trade is stalled, most supermarkets have left the curtain. On the one hand, it is no longer possible to keep fresh products, but we also can no longer use the payment terminals that have become essential in recent months, as hyperinflation prevents payment of purchases in cash (unless you have suitcases of banknotes).

"IT attack"

According to the minister of communication, Jorge Rodriguez, the collapse was activated on Thursday by a "IT attack against the automatic control system" the Guri hydroelectric plant (south-east of the country), which provides Venezuela with between 70 and 80% of its electricity. During a meeting on Saturday, socialist President Nicolás Maduro said: "Today, we had reached almost 70% [dans le rétablissement de l’électricité] when we received another cybernetic attack at midday against one of the sources of energy that worked perfectly. He canceled everything we had achieved. " The government said it would provide the UN "Proofs" Washington's responsibility in this interruption.

The leader of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, recognized by more than fifty countries (including France) as Venezuela's "interim president", awaiting a new presidential election, attributes the black hole to a lack of investment in maintenance infrastructure. And many experts give him reason. On Thursday, the public electricity company Corpoelec had reported, unspecified, a "Sabotage" in Guri.

Embargo on black gold

In 2016, the country had already experienced a serious energy emergency. This time, it was not imperialism, but climate change and the El Niño phenomenon that were challenged by the regime. Due to the lack of rain, the level of the Guri dam, the second largest in Latin America, inaugurated in 1978, had fallen to an alarming level. To save electricity, the government had reduced public employees' work two days a week and limited school hours. The waters were rising again after two weeks, but many experts had found it dangerous that over two thirds of the country's electricity consumption was based on a single site.

Bolivarian Venezuela has just developed alternative energies like solar, relying on a manna oil considered eternal by the rulers. A plan launched in 2010 by Hugo Chávez had remained a dead letter, the funds disappeared in the circuits of corruption. The lack of investment is also referred to as the main culprit (with the flight of qualified engineers abroad) of the decline in oil production. Last month, even before a virtually US embargo came into force on Venezuelan black gold imports, oil production would have fallen below one million barrels per day. Let the level of … 1939.

The massive outburst took over the rival demonstrations convened Saturday, one by Juan Guaidó, the other by power. The "president bis" called for a forthcoming march on the capital, after a tour that he would do in the country, to push the Nicolás Maduro exit. He also reiterated his willingness to allow foreign military intervention.

François-Xavier Gomez



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