Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez gave a press conference today in which he acknowledged that the Guri dam – which provides about a third of all Venezuela’s electricity – is “in critical situation” due to an ongoing drought. According to Motta Dominguez, the water level at the dam is 11 meters away from reaching the entrance to the turbines, meaning that a drop beyond that point would force the plant to shut down.
The official news is relatively consistent with information published by El Nacional on Monday, which found that the dam’s water level was 9 meters away from forcing the plant to stop operations.
Motta Dominguez said that his ministry was making a “superhuman effort” to administer the water in the dam well, and called on Venezuelans to reduce their energy consumption. He also criticized the opposition for calling into question his office’s handling of the ongoing electrical crisis, saying:
While these people are here working, others [the opposition] are calling for protests against the electrical situation, and they’ve never even seen the Guri dam.
Former Elec. Exec.: Poor Administration Caused Crisis
Iñaki Rousse, the former head of Electricidad de Caracas [Caracas Electricity], said today that the country’s hydroelectric plants were designed with droughts in mind, and that the real culprit behind the country’s energy crisis is not the climate, but rather chronic lack of investment in the industry.
When asked by El Nacional if a recent spattering of transformer explosions in Caracas could be a sign of the poor state of the country’s electrical infrastructure, Rousse said:
Even if they [the transformers] are very high quality, they will deteriorate over time. This [the explosions] are due to lack of maintenance.
The Minister of Electrical Energy has argued that the transformer explosions have not been caused by faults with the equipment itself, but rather by acts of “sabotage” by subversive individuals.
Still, for Rousse, the crumbling state of the electrical grid is a symptom of a larger problem:
While those who run the electrical sector are not qualified to do so, [while they] don’t have experience is brush aside planning, operation and maintenance processes, it will not be able to recover.
Venezuela produces 24,000 megawatts of electricity, with a national demand of about 18,000 megawats.
Rousse’s assessment is backed up by Adel Guzman, the secretary general of the union representing workers at the state-run electrical company, CORPOELEC. According to El Nacional, Guzman has made calls to the government to let trained personnel handle the situation instead of politicians, since the latter have become “political agents for their own benefit”. Guzman also said:
The whole electrical system needs repair. We have to be objective and take into account the fact that these plants and the electrical system are lethargic. Only the workers, with their feeling of attachment [to the industry], giving it 100%, have been carrying the country.
NA Responds to TSJ Ruling
The National Assembly offered an official response today to a ruling by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) that restricted the body’s power to remove magistrates appointed to the court by the PSUV last December.
During a press conference, National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup announced that despite the ruling, the legislature would continue to “investigate and legislate” for the benefit of the country. He also said that the Assembly would debate the “ominous sentence” tomorrow during a meeting which he invited all Venezuelans to watch.
They want to frustrate or eliminate the powers that belong to the National Assembly. We’re going to investigate cases of drug [trafficking] by National Bolivarian Armed Forces, cases of corruption at PDVSA (…) the horrifying foreign debt situation which they don’t want people to know about, contracts involving national interests that must pass through the National Assembly, the scandal involving [US] dollars and CADIVI, which involves Venezuelans with links to the government, SUDEBAN — everything that has to be investigated.
Foreign Minister: Venezuela Victim of “Bullying”
Today, Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez asked the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights to weigh in on the proposed amnesty law that is currently being discussed at the National Assembly. According to Rodriguez, the law – which would provide amnesty to political prisoners going back to 1999 – would “give hope” to any group hoping to overthrow the government through violence. Rodriguez also said:
We want to denounce that the non-democratic Venezuelan opposition is trying to violate the constitutional rule of law through the National Assembly with this so-called amnesty law.
Rodriguez also explained what she hopes the United Nations will heed her call to examine the situation and declare it illegal:
First thing this morning, we asked the High Commissioner [to conduct] a study to show the anti-constitutional character of this violation of human rights…
Rodriguez also said that Venezuela was the victim of “bullying” by the international right wing, which she claims are after the country’s natural resources.
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