How does an oil-rich nation lose electricity across the entire country? Just a day after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) predicted that Venezuela had almost run through its oil reserves, a massive blackout struct throughout all bu one state. “The Maduro regime calls it sabotage,” reports CBS Miami, and Nicolas Maduro may be right — but he also may be the ultimate cause:
Much of Venezuela was still without electricity Friday amid one of the largest power outages in years, raising tensions in a country already on edge from ongoing political turmoil.
President Nicolas Maduro ordered schools and all government entities closed and told businesses not to open to facilitate work crews trying to restore power.
The blackout hit 22 of 23 states by some accounts. It struck the capital Caracas, which until now has been spared the worst of a collapse in the nation’s grid, at the peak of the evening rush hour on Thursday and was still wreaking havoc more than 14 hours later.
Even the government thinks this may last for days, not just a few hours, which will create a massive humanitarian crisis. Health care will be greatly degraded, work will come to a complete halt, and Venezuelans will have nothing much to do except gather in the streets. That’s hardly a good development for Maduro, whose power is already being challenged in the streets even when the power remained on.
Maduro’s communications minister Jorge Rodriguez thinks he knows who’s behind the plot:
Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said right-wing extremists intent on causing pandemonium in Venezuela and taking orders from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio were behind the blackout, although he offered no proof.
Rubio’s prediction, however, relied on the Maduro regime’s incompetence and socialist collapse. He may well have been prescient:
Florida Senator Marco Rubio predicted the Maduro regime will be crippled by increased sanctions.
“Over the next few weeks, Venezuela is going to enter a period of suffering, no nation in our hemisphere has ever confronted in modern history,” he said.
Rubio blames Maduro for the economic crisis facing the oil rich nation, and wants to see Juan Guaidó step in as interim president.
“As of today, Venezuela has 6, 7 days of fuel supplies left,” Rubio said. “This in the most oil rich country in the world all because they’ve destroyed the domestic production capacity.”
We still don’t know for sure what caused the blackout, but it seems unlikely to be sabotage. The Maduro government claims that someone sabotaged a hydroelectric plant in Bolivar, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. A failure of one hydro station could account for a smaller blackout, but a national electrical failure? If oil supplies were running as low as Rubio suggested, that makes more sense as a cause. And if that is the cause, then the lights will be down in Venezuela for a long time unless outside forces ship oil in to relieve the situation.
Who would do that? The US is not going to step in to rescue Maduro, and neither is the new right-wing government in Brazil. Ditto Colombia, which has been dealing with the fallout from Maduro’s socialist collapse for years. Cuba is the last of Maduro’s good friends, but they don’t have large oil reserves to rescue Maduro. If the cause is a collapse in oil supply, then Maduro may have to leave in a trade for relief before the lights can come back on.
Maduro may need to leave before the lights come back on anyway. If this blackout persists, then the military may need to switch sides before the populace rises up against them. They’ll be looking for Maduro’s blood, and also perhaps looking for the gold reserves he’s been selling off in a desperate attempt to cling to power. Having sucked out his country’s wealth, Maduro will hope to find plenty of light in exile while leaving his subjects in darkness and poverty — which has been the end result of socialism every time it’s tried. It’s just come to a more dramatic end in Venezuela.