China offered on Wednesday to help Venezuela repair its power grid after the country was plunged into its worst blackout on record, now in its sixth day, reports Reuters.
With the power blackout in its sixth day, hospitals struggled to keep equipment running, food rotted in the tropical heat and exports from the country’s main oil terminal were shut down.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said China had noted reports that the power grid had gone down due to a hacking attack.
“China is deeply concerned about this,” Lu said. -Reuters
"China hopes that the Venezuelan side can discover the reason for this issue as soon as possible and resume normal power supply and social order. China is willing to provide help and technical support to restore Venezuela’s power grid," added Lu.
President Nicolas Maduro, who retains control of the country's military and has the support of both Russia and China, has accused US President Donald Trump of cyber "sabotage."
"The United States’ imperialist government ordered this attack," Maduro said in a 35-minute televised address on Monday night accusing the White House of launching an imperialist "electromagnetic attack."
"They came with a strategy of war of the kind that only these criminals – who have been to war and have destroyed the people of Iraq, of Libya, of Afghanistan and of Syria – think up," Maduro added.
Maduro claimed that the Trump administration conducted the attack in coordination with "puppets and clowns" from the Venezuelan opposition in order to bring about a "a state of despair, of widespread want and of conflict" to justify a foreign invasion.
Caracas-based political analyst Dimitris Pantoulas tweeted on Tuesday that Maduro appeared "worried, anxious and absolutely desperate," adding that it's clear that the government is not in control of the situation.
It is the second time in a month that I see Maduro worried, anxious and absolutely desperate. It is clear, from what he said, that the government does not control the situation (nobody does) and they do not have any plan or strategy (but he is not the only one without a plan). pic.twitter.com/H7ZRCCiK2y— Dimitris Pantoulas (@DPantoulas) March 12, 2019
Venezuela's chief prosecutor meanwhile has asked the country's supreme court to open an investigation into opposition leader Juan Guaidó - who has been accused of being involved in the blackout, according to The Guardian.
Tarek Saab announced the inquiry on Tuesday, a day after the embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, accused Donald Trump of masterminding a “demonic” plot with the country’s opposition to force him from power.
Guaidó – who most western governments now recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate interim leader – is already under investigation for allegedly fomenting violence, but authorities have not tried to detain him since he violated a travel ban and then returned home from a tour of Latin American countries. -The Guardian
On Tuesday, foreign minister Jorge Arreaza ordered US diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours. "The presence on Venezuelan soil of these officials represents a risk for the peace, unity and stability of the country," reads a government statement. On Monday night US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced that Washington was withdrawing all remaining diplomatic staff from Caracas.
The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from @usembassyve this week. This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 12, 2019
Power had returned to some parts of the country on Tuesday according to witnesses and social media, however it remains out in parts of the capital city of Caracas, as well as the western region bordering Colombia. Information minister Jorge Rodriguez said that power was restored to the "vast majority" of the country, however evidence suggests otherwise.
Thread on regional network connectivity in #Venezuela right now: #Maracaibo remains largely offline; see time lapse temporospatial network mapping showing availability from 6 March to present #Zulia #SinLuz #12Mar pic.twitter.com/lFy1wnUbsq— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) March 12, 2019
#Breaking: Just in - From all of the #SinLuz hashtags and messages i could gather and read, #Venezuela only has approximately 30% power back in the country! And power is not stable it cuts and comes back. And some places don't come back again.— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) March 12, 2019
As independent journalist Sotiri Dimpinoudis reports, looting is taking place across the country - including the city of Maracaibo which suffered an electrical substation explosion.
According to Reuters, the "non-sabotage" version of the blackout is that it was likely caused by a technical problem with transmission lines linking the Guri hydroelectric plant in southeastern Venezuela to the national power grid.