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Venezuela Power Coming Back Following Massive Blackout

"This is horrible, a disaster," Reni Blanco, a 48-year-old teacher, said

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    Venezuela Power Coming Back Following Massive Blackout
    AP
    People walk in the streets of Caracas after a massive blackout left the city and other parts of the country without electricity, in Caracas Venezuela, Monday, July 22, 2019.

    The lights were returning to life across Venezuela on Tuesday following a massive blackout that crippled communications, froze the Caracas metro and snarled rush hour traffic, officials said.

    Energy Minister Freddy Brito said power had been restored in the capital of Caracas and at least five of the South American nation's 23 states. Partial power had returned to another four states, he said.

    "We're moving forward in the recovery of the national electricity system," Brito said, adding that workers at the state-run power firm Corpoelec were committed to returning life to normal.

    Officials said they were suspending school and work Tuesday for most Venezuelans because of the power failure.

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    The outage hit shortly after 4 p.m. on Monday and officials blamed an "electromagnetic attack" against the nation's hydroelectric system. Government opponents say years of mismanagement and corruption leave the grid vulnerable to failure.

    "They tried to hide the tragedy by rationing supplies across the country," opposition leader Juan Guaidó said on Twitter. "But their failure is evident: They destroyed the system and they don't have answers."

    Netblocks, a group monitoring internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela was knocked offline with national connectivity at just 6% after the latest cuts.

    Normally non-stop state TV was also knocked off the air, but was transmitting again on Tuesday,

    A blackout in March left millions of Venezuelans without water or phone communication for nearly a week, heightening tensions in a country locked in a political and social crisis.

    President Nicolás Maduro has been under growing international pressure to step down since opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidó launched a campaign in January to oust him, with backing from more than 50 nations, including the United States, that consider Maduro's re-election invalid.

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    Venezuela was once a wealthy oil nation, but an estimated 4 million residents have emigrated, tired of shortages of electricity and water, as well as food and medicine.