Netblocks reported this afternoon that electrical power appears to have been restored to a majority of the country as of early afternoon:
Today, the Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social (Venezuelan Social Conflict Watch, OVCS) reported that there were looting events reported in thirteen states during the blackout, which began on Thursday afternoon at approximately 5:00 PM.
Marco Antonio Ponce, the director of OVCS, told El Nacional that Zulia state was the hardest hit by the looting, and spoke on the lasting impact that the events can have on a community. He said:
What looting brings is an increase in scarcity because there are fewer possibilities to shop for products, and they really affect the small businesses that are surviving in our country, and it will be very difficult for them to start up those businesses again.
A video shared on social media by a regional newspaper called El Impulso shows the looting of a warehouse that allegedly belongs to the Polar company. In the video, National Guard soldiers look on helplessly as people ransack the warehouse while the man filming laments that “we’ve lost all control”:
Yesterday, the Sambil shopping mall in Maracaibo was looted:
The vice president of the national CONSECOMERCIO business guild, Felipe Capozzolo, asked the authorities to take stronger measures to protect businesses from looting, and that at least 500 businesses in Zulia state were targeted during the blackout.
According to the Maracaibo Chamber of Commerce, the looting in the city has a price tag of approximately $50 million, thought it warned that as the figure was preliminary “it’s sure to climb”.
Capozzolo also asked for help from the international community to deal with the aftermath of the looting:
We call on the international community to explore the possibility of creating a financial support fund for small businesses that were affected by vandalism.
Reuters: Uganda Investigating Suspicious Gold Transfer, Possibly from Venezuela
Reuters is reporting this afternoon that the government of Uganda is investigating the possibility that the Venezuelan government transferred $300 million worth of gold to the African Gold Refinery recently. According to Reuters:
Ugandan state-run media has reported the gold could have originated from Venezuela, which has been selling gold to prop up its struggling, sanctions-hit economy.
African Gold Refinery (AGR) said that the gold came from South America but gave no further details and rejected allegations of smuggling.
“All the required documents has been provided to them (the police)… AGR transactions are legal and documentations are 1000% legitimate,” the firm said in a statement to Reuters.
The article goes on to cite a Ugandan police source as saying that the authorities believe that AGR received two shipments of gold on March 2 and March 4 totaling 7.4 tonnes, and that the precious metal did not pass through customs.
The whereabouts of Venezuela’s gold grabbed international headlines earlier this year, as increasing financial and diplomatic pressure on the Maduro government engendered fears that regime officials would try to steal the reserves.
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