At least nine states were plunged into darkness this evening as the country’s ailing electrical grid continues to show signs of decay.
While El Nacional reported that nine states were hit by the blackout, Colombia’s NTN24 reported that twelve states and part of another were affected by the outage.
According to El Nacional, the affected states include Merida, Tachira, Barinas, Zulia, Lara, Carabobo, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa and Miranda. Taken together, these nine states make up approximately one third of the country’s landmass.
Meanwhile, NTN24 reported that in addition to the states listed above, Trujillo, Yaracuy, and Falcon were also in the dark.
The first reports of the blackout to come from Twitter users surfaced on the social media platform at approximately 7:00 PM local time. As of the writing of this update (9:00 PM local time), the Ministry of Energy has yet to issue a statement on the blackout.
Areas of Caracas–which had for years been spared the routine blackouts that affect so much of the country–are also in the dark tonight, including the Jose Manuel de los Rios hospital located in the western part of the capital.
At 7:58 local time, a person inside the hospital recorded the following video:
Woman: Good evening. We’ve been without electricity in the children’s hospital for more than an hour. [I’m in] J.M. de los Rios [hospital]. Look at the empty rooms. The children are gathered in the play hall. There’s no electricity. The hallways are dark.
Reporte Ya shared an image showing the affected states:
Years of mismanagement and corruption have left Venezuela’s electrical system in a state of abject disrepair and unable to properly administer power to the country.
EU Stands Firm Against Maduro After Council of Ministers
The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Council met today in Luxembourg, where the bloc’s ranking diplomats met to discuss some of the foreign policy issues concerning the region.
Today’s meeting was foreshadowed by news reports yesterday suggesting that Spain would advocate for a softer stance against the Maduro regime, including the possibility of trading sanctions for the promise of a dialogue between the regime and the opposition.
At the conclusion of the meeting, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy spoke to reporters on the encounter, including the discussion that took place on the topic of Venezuela.
Mogherini stressed that the EU would not change its stance against the Maduro regime. She said:
Then we had a discussion with the Ministers on the situation in Venezuela, where I want to be very clear: We reaffirmed our strong position on the political crisis in Venezuela. You know that we have already introduced targeted sanctions on individuals that are responsible for violation of human rights – namely political rights – in Venezuela. This policy is going to continue. The European Union is not looking at softening its position on Venezuela in any way.
At the same time, Mogherini made clear that the EU also continued to believe that “there can only be a democratic political solution” to the crisis, and that the bloc would launch a new initiative to explore possibility for a “political process” solution.
… we will explore the possibility of establishing a contact group to see if there are the conditions to facilitate not a mediation – there are clearly not the conditions for that -, or a dialogue, but a political process: a way to be in contact with the different parties – obviously not only the government, but also the different sides of the opposition, involving some regional international actors – and as I said, exploring the possibility of creating conditions for a political process to be started.
It is not immediately clear what Mogherini envisioned this “political process” might look like, or which regional actors she might consider involving the process.
Mogherini was also clear to temper expectations about this initiative, saying:
I do not want to create expectations here, we have not decided to constitute it yet, but just to explore the possibility of doing so, because we are worried that in the lack – in the absence – of a political process, tensions could only get worse. The situation of the Venezuelan people, among which many hundreds of thousands of European citizens, could become even worse.
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