Venezuelan military to stage drills after blackout

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
Istanbul
Published 15.03.2019 00:24

After the massive blackout crippling the oil-rich but economically troubled South American nation, the second stage of the Venezuela's large-scale military exercises are set to begin this weekend in order to secure the national electric power grids and water supply systems.

"This coming weekend, the military drills dubbed Ana Karina Rote are being resumed at their second stage," Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Wednesday as reported by Sputnik International.

The move came amid reported sabotage at the country's major Guri hydroelectric power plant. Earlier this week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated that two people were detained on suspicion of attempted wrecking of the country's power system. Maduro earlier accused the U.S. of the attack, saying that it was committed by using "high-tech" weapons that "only the U.S. government has in the world."

Power has been "100-percent" restored across Venezuela, the government announced late Wednesday, while supplies of running water had been 80 percent restored. Only the towns of Baruta and Hatillo near the capital Caracas were still experiencing electricity outages due to a fire at a substation, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said.

Power cuts have paralyzed large parts of the country since last Thursday, with water, food and fuel supplies running low and reports of looting and people dying in hospitals.

The outage comes as Venezuela is in the throes of a political struggle between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of congress who declared himself the nation's rightful president in January and is recognized by the United States and a number of other countries. The Maduro government has charged that a U.S.-led war on the electric power supply was underway, while describing Guaido as a "clown" and "puppet."

Venezuela's electrical system was once the envy of Latin America but it has fallen into a state of disrepair after years of poor maintenance and mismanagement. High-ranking officials have been accused in U.S. court proceedings of looting government money earmarked for the electrical system.

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