CARACAS: President Nicolas Maduro yesterday blamed Venezuela’s right-wing opposition for what he called “sabotage” that he said caused blackouts that plunged much of the country into chaos.
“At this hour, all signs indicate that the extreme right has implemented its plan to carry out an Electrical Coup against the nation,” Maduro said on Twitter.
“Clearly behind all this is the hand of those who want to weaken our nation. Onward on the road to work and prosperity. Unity and Progress!” the president tweeted.
By being “alert and active, we will defeat them,” Maduro said noting that he had activated army troops to step up patrols until power could be restored in the South American OPEC member state.
The blackout struck at peak hours in Caracas, around 1:00 pm local time (1730 GMT), and also affected cities in Lara, Zulia, Anzoategui, Miranda, Nueva Esparta, Aragua, Trujillo and Barinas states, according to media reports and social networks.
Various posts on Twitter said the Caracas subway service was disrupted by the power failure while outages also knocked out traffic lights, causing transport chaos. Thousands were forced to walk to their homes.
Two hours into the blackout, power was being gradually restored is some areas, Electricity Minister Jesse Chacon said.
Venezuela said last week it had derailed a plot to kill Maduro, arresting two hitmen it said wanted to assassinate the leftist leader on orders from a Colombian conservative ex-president.
The government made frequent allegations of assassination plots against the late leftist President Hugo Chavez and has continued to do so under Maduro, his handpicked successor.
Official results gave Maduro, 50, a razor-thin margin of just 1.5 percent over Henrique Capriles, 41, in the April 14 election. Capriles contests the tight presidential vote results.