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Venezuela blackouts: Maduro blames the US, but is it possible?

Venezuela blackouts: Maduro blames the US, but is it possible?
Venezuela is suffering its second major electricity blackout in a month, prompting more accusations from President Nicolas Maduro that the US government has had a hand in the crisis — but is there anything to the accusation?

Maduro has consistently blamed foreign “saboteurs and terrorists” for the crippling blackouts which have forced stores, businesses and schools to close and left the streets of Caracas empty as people head indoors before sundown.

Meanwhile, self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has blamed the outages on Maduro, whose policies, he said, have allowed the country's infrastructure to crumble to breaking point.

Earlier this month, independent website the Grayzone reported on a 2010 memo, which it called a US government "regime change blueprint" for Venezuela, back when Washington was trying to foment a coup against former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The document, originally made public by WikiLeaks, was put together by Srdja Popovic at a Belgrade-based US government-funded "democracy promotion" organization called the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) – and it provides some insight into the claim that the US has played a role in the blackouts.

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The 2010 document states that the collapse of Venezuela's electrical sector could serve as a "watershed event" in "galvanizing public unrest" in a way that "no opposition group could ever hope to generate." However, “an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs,” the memo said.

The CANVAS organization is also particularly relevant to the current situation in Venezuela, since, according to previous Grayzone reporting, the group led revolution “training sessions” with Guaido as far back as 2007.

The document even pinpointed the location where such an electricity disaster might take place — the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at the Guri dam — the very place where a major failure caused the recent blackouts, which Maduro blamed on a US cyber attack. The second blackout, which happened this week, was apparently caused by a fire at the same plant. Photographs posted online showed the extensive damage that was done to the facility by the fire, which was blamed by Maduro on "criminals" and "terrorists.” A third blackout left a majority of Venezuelans without internet access on Wednesday.

Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic [in the memo] is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined,” Max Blumenthal wrote at the Grayzone.

Adding to the mystery, roughly 18 minutes after the first blackout happened on March 7, Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced via Twitter that "backup generators have failed" at the plant — before Venezuelan officials themselves even had the same information. “How did Marco Rubio know that backup generators had failed? At that time, no one knew that,” Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez asked.

Shortly before, regime-change enthusiast Rubio had also told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Venezuela that the country was about to "enter a period of suffering no nation in our hemisphere has confronted in modern history."

Of course, there is no proof that the US is behind the recent blackouts, but the document suggests that this exact scenario was mapped out by the US-funded CANVAS as being potentially hugely beneficial for regime change efforts.

So far, the document has been ignored by mainstream media, which has insisted that there is no indication of US involvement and implied that Maduro’s finger-pointing is entirely baseless.

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