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Venezuela was plunged into darkness Thursday following a national power failure — an event President Nicolás Maduro blamed on a cyberattack orchestrated by Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Maduro first accused opposition leader Juan Guaidó of “sabotage” after the failure of the Guri hydroelectric dam, which provides much of the country’s power — adding that he was aided by “U.S. imperialists.”
Venezuelan information minister Jorge Rodríguez offered more details in a TV address, claiming the outage was caused by a cyberattack against the “brain” of the Guri hydroelectric power plant. He said three of five generators were affected and that 18 of 23 states saw power outages — affecting roughly 70 percent of the population.
The minister then attacked Rubio, an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime, claiming he was directly involved.
Rubio hit back on Twitter, calling Rodriguez the “Baghdad Bob” of Caracas:
“My apologies to people of Venezuela. I must have pressed the wrong thing on the ‘electronic attack’ app I downloaded from Apple. My bad,” Rubio said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also hit out at Maduro on Twitter, saying: "No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro."
The outage, which hit during rush hour, led to chaos in the capital Caracas, with long traffic jams and thousands of commuters forced to walk home from work after the metro stopped working.
The international airport in Caracas was also in the dark:
The outage impacted internet access across the country, as most cellular networks were not prepared to operate in these circumstances.
Guaidó called the blackout a matter of “chaos, concern and anger [and] evidence of the usurper's inefficiency.”
By early Friday morning, power had been restored in some areas, with Rodriguez claiming all states would soon be back online.
Venezuelans likely aren't too surprised, as their country is in the grip of an economic crisis that has led to occasional localized blackouts, as well as fuel, medicine and food shortages.
In January, Guaidó challenged Maduro’s leadership, declaring himself interim president with the support of the U.S. and other Western nations. But Maduro has clung to power thanks to the support of the powerful Venezuelan military.
Cover image: A view during a power cut in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 7, 2019. (Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)