Lights Out In Caracas As Maduro Faces Possible U.S. Money-Laundering Probe

Jul 31, 2018

Last week we learned that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro may be under investigation in the U.S. for money-laundering. But it turns out Maduro has more immediate problems – like keeping his country’s lights on.

On Monday evening, Nicolás Maduro was just about to be declared the leader of his socialist party at a convention in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. Then the lights went out for a half hour.

It wasn’t just an embarrassing moment for the authoritarian Venezuelan president. It was an omen. On Tuesday greater Caracas and its 5 million residents were hit with not one but two massive blackouts that cut power to 80 percent of the metropolis for much of the day. But Tuesday evening Venezuelan officials still had not given a cause for the outages (though Maduro, per usual, blamed the Monday convention outage on opposition "sabotage").

“It was horrible because it shut down public transport and people filled up the streets and highways walking back home,” insurance broker Gustavo Díaz told WLRN by telephone from southeast Caracas.

Díaz added the Caracas blackout is just one more blow to a country suffering the world’s worst economic collapse – including a chronic lack of food, medicine and other basics.

“There are always blackouts in other cities," Díaz said, "but the government thought it had Caracas armored against this. This just worsens the sense of national despair.”

And perhaps Maduro’s sense of siege. Last week the Miami Herald reported U.S. officials are investigating the Venezuelan president as part of a $1.2 billion money-laundering scandal.