- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Parts of Venezuela’s capital and at least one state endured a power blackout on Tuesday lasting several hours, in an occurrence that has become commonplace in the crisis-stricken nation beset by energy woes.

The power went out in a wide swath of Caracas during the early afternoon, shutting down the metro and forcing thousands to walk long distances. Some cell phone service was crippled and elevators in high-rise office and apartment buildings malfunctioned.

The state electricity company said on Twitter that a “breakdown” at an undisclosed location had caused the blackout and all power had been restored within hours.

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But opposition leader Juan Guaidó said the outage extended much father, leaving at least 11 of Venezuela’s 24 states without electricity. He also used it as ammunition in his battle with President Nicolás Maduro.

“The regime has turned into a verified disaster, and it is intent on doing the same to the country,” Guaido said on Twitter. “We cannot get used to hearing news like this every day.”

Maduro critics say well-connected officials have plundered public coffers rather than investing in maintenance of the once-wealthy oil-nation’s power grid.

In March, an outage blanketed most of Venezuela in darkness for nearly a week in what was the worse power failure in the country’s modern history.

But several widespread blackouts have taken place this year amid an economic crisis far worse than the U.S. Great Depression. Each new episode throws residents into panic due to lingering fears that electricity won’t be restored for a long stretch.

Maduro’s government has blamed the frequent power troubles on electromagnetic attacks launched from the United States, which backs Guaidó’s campaign to oust the socialist regime.

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