By Devin Watkins
Much of Venezuela was hit by a massive blackout for a span of several hours on Monday and into Tuesday, leaving millions without running water, cellphone service, traffic control systems, and other basic services.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed the outage on a “high-tech electromagnetic attack” launched by the United States to undermine his regime, without providing proof or details.
But the response from the country’s Catholic bishops seemed to point somewhere closer to Maduro’s door.
“No technical reasons exist for the previous occurrences, and this blackout seems to follow a similar pattern,” reads a Monday evening tweet from the Archdiocese of Caracas. A second tweet called on the government “to provide effective and permanent solutions that Venezuelans require in order to have a decent quality of life”.
Poor infrastructure maintenance
In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Griselda Mutual, Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo poured further doubt on the truth of Maduro’s claim of foreign sabotage.
“Since 2010, electricity specialists in Venezuela have noted the poor maintenance of the national electrical grid,” said the Apostolic Administrator of Caracas and Archbishop of Merida. “What is most striking is that the government does not assume responsibility for these occurrences, but always attributes them to some electromagnetic attack carried out by enemies of the regime.”
A previous blackout brought the South American nation to its knees in March, lasting nearly a week and widely considered its worst power failure ever.
Cardinal Porras said Venezuelans live in constant fear of further power cuts. “We have witnessed people’s suffering especially regarding transportation and conservation of foodstuffs,” he said, adding that blackouts “aggravate the terrible crisis the country is going through.”
The Cardinal also said this week’s power outage left people without telephone or satellite communications, leaving them cut off from family members and news bulletins.
Failed state in freefall
“It seems that we are in freefall owing to the government’s neglect and lack of respect for human life,” said Cardinal Porras.
He said Venezuela is “a failed state” ruled by a regime that offers no basic services and contributes only minimally to the well-being of the population.
Venezuelans have felt their quality of life decrease drastically, said Cardinal Porras, and many vulnerable lives have been lost, due to the chaos generated by a completely irresponsible regime.