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Venezuelan Blackout Claims 21 Lives, Opposition Leaders Blame Maduro Regime

Venezuela was thrown into darkness over the weekend as power failed across the South American government. Power went out abruptly on Thursday night leading to chaos and desperation in a country already facing a prolonged and debilitating crisis. The blackout worsened the already troubled mess gripping Venezuela. So far, 21 people have died because of the blackout according to opposition leaders.

Power outages have left Venezuela crippled since they were first reported on Thursday afternoon.

Venezuelans continue to flee the failing South American country with no hope for a future in their homeland. Some parts of Venezuela have been without power for almost five days. The power outage is the last straw for some Venezuelans who have been holding out for Venezuela’s success and President Nicolás Maduro’s inevitable defeat.

The power outage has devatasted the already strained and failing healtchare system in Venezuela.

Credit: @MariaCorinaYA / Twitter

María Corina Machado, an outspoken member fo the opposition party, tweeted about the reality of what the power outage looks like for the vulnerable people in Venezuela.

“And the babies in incubators? And the patients in intensive care? And those who require dialysis today? And those who need to keep their chemotherapy medications in the refrigerator? You are responsible for these deaths,” Machado tweeted. “You will face justice.”

One video of a woman carrying her 22-pound 19-year-old daughter’s body is showing the human toll the crisis and political struggle is causing in Venezuela.

According to Daily Mail, Elizabeth Díaz watched her daughter die in her arms during the power outage. The daughter was suffering from cerebral paralysis and severe malnourishment when she fell ill on Saturday. Despite going to two different medical facilities, Díaz was turned away by medical professionals due to the power outage and walked to a local morgue. Her daughter’s body is still in the morgue since she can’t afford a burial for her daughter.

Venezuelans living abroad has tweeted the impact the power outage has had on their family’s lives.

Credit: @gabyurdaneta / Twitter

The Venezuelan blackout is being blamed on mismanagement and corruption within the Maduro regime that has crippled the Venezuelan economy. Venezuelans have taken to the streets in recent years demanding that Maduro step down as the country’s president but he has refused to let go of power.

Maduro and his government officials are blaming the blackout on an orchestrated cyber attack led by the U.S. government and the opposition.

“The power outage and the devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans is not because of the USA,” tweeted Mike Pompeo, the Secretart of State, in response to Maduro’s claims of U.S. interference. “It’s not because of Colombia. It’s not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else. Power shortages and starvation are the result of the Maduro regime’s incompetence.”

Doctors are working in the dark to help patients in need during the blackout.

The Venezuelan government has not given citizens nor the international community an indication of how long the power will remain out in the country. Videos of women giving birth in dark hospitals throughout the country are being shared on social media.

There are reports that newborn babies and vulnerable patients are dying in hospitals in Venezuela due to the lack of power.

The blackout was reportedly caused by a failure at the San Geronimo B substation.

San Geronimo B produces 80 percent of the electrical power for Venezuela and the substation has been down since Thursday. There is no idea when the substation will be back online. Employees are the substation were sent home indefinitely as the country stayed dark throughout the weekend.

President Nicolás Maduro is claiming that the government is fighting to get the elctical system back online.

Credit: @NicolasMaduro / Twitter

“We continue to wage a strong battle to free the National Electrical System,” Maduro tweeted. “Progressively, we are working to prevent and protect the system from attacks intending to block the reconnection. With hard work, love, and resistance, we will overcome.”

Interim President Juan Guaidó took to Twitter to share is concern about the ongoing crisis.

Credit: @jguaido / Twitter

“Without light, water, food, the desperation can lead people to a limited state of taking sustenance for themselves,” Guaidó tweeted. “The reports coming out of various cities are consistent of the usurping regime continues to impede on the solution of the crisis.”

There is no end in sight, according to some experts, and the world waits to see if Venezuela will find their way out of this power crisis.

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

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Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

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Puerto Rican’s are no stranger to referendums. Since 1967, they’ve had five chances to make their opinions known on U.S. statehood and each and every time, their voice hasn’t been listened to. Congress has failed to take up the issue after each referendum and local leaders are often guilty of using the referendum simply to drudge up support for their candidates.

But this upcoming referendum is different in that it comes at a crossroads for Puerto Rican politics. The island has been plagued by natural disasters, political scandals, and unprecedented hate crimes. Even Bad Bunny is letting his thoughts out on the referendum and many others have lots to say on the issue.

For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state?

On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Republican governor, Wanda Vázquez, announced yet another vote on the question (the sixth since 1967 and the third since 2012). It’s a move that comes amid growing frustration with the island’s territorial government and its relationship with the mainland.

However, it’s a question that also outraged the island’s independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party – which supports the status quo.

But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment.

“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” Vázquez said. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”

The upcoming referendum is just the recent in a long line of previously failed ones.

In the past, voters have been asked more than one question and presented with various options, including independence or continuing with the current territorial status – but none of them have ever been as direct as the upcoming one scheduled for the November 3 general election.

However, many on the island see the referendum as little more than a political move by the governor’s New Progressive Party to get voters out on Nov 3 – to boost her party’s candidates.

The New Progressive Party has been rattled with scandal after scandal and many are ready for change.

The past few years have not been good for the party – or the island for that matter. A string of devastating hurricanes, a severe debt crisis, ongoing corruption scandals that even forced a pro-statehood governor to resign, earthquakes, and now a global pandemic – have all led to challenging times in Puerto Rico. To some observers, the idea seems to be: Let’s dangle the illusion of a yes or no statehood referendum (nonbinding) that is already dead on arrival?

Many also feel that Gov. Vasquez is not truly authorized to make such a decision since she was never actually elected to the office. Instead, she became governor after Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign following massive protests.

Meanwhile, the Republican government on the island doesn’t even have the support of the Republican-led federal government. The Trump administration’s blunt response was basically, “The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order.”

This coming November, there will be plenty of incentive to vote “no” and punish the Vázquez administration. Even prominent figures such as Bad Bunny are jumping into the fray against her leadership.

What would statehood mean for Puerto Rico?

Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge the referendum because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. And while the island is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states. Many believe the island’s territorial status has contributed to its struggle to recover from the hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as worsened its economic crisis, largely caused by decades of heavy borrowing and the elimination of federal tax incentives.

The US, Colombia Deny Any Involvement In What Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Calls Failed Invasion

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The US, Colombia Deny Any Involvement In What Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Calls Failed Invasion

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused both the U.S. and Colombian governments of trying to stage an invasion. President Maduro accused made the accusations towards the beginning of May when two Americans were arrested with a group of other people.

Both the U.S. and Colombia have denied any report of an attempted coup on Venezuela.

On May 3, a group of Venezuelan rebels and two Americans allegedly began a coup attempt in Venezuela. They began on the northern tip of the country and reportedly had plans to take control of Maracaibo and Caracas. They were all immediately captured and 8 Venezuelans in the group were killed during the conflict.

According to the Daily Mail, Jordan Goudreau, 43, was involved with the coup and told a close friend about it. It is alleged that Goudreau bragged about having a contract with the U.S. government to protect oil interests in Venezuela.

The mercenaries behind the attempted coup claim to have done security for a President Trump rally in 2018.

Goudreau, who has been described as the mastermind of the coup attempt, owns the security company Silvercorp. An old Instagram post shows the Florida-based company running security for a Trump rally back in 2018. The company has since deleted the Instagram posts after news broke about their failed attempt to train Venezuelan rebels and capture the South American country.

“He came out to Colorado,” Drew White, Goudreau’s former business partner told Daily Mail. “He said he had a deal from the State Department to protect oil interests in Venezuela. He was saying it was handed to him directly. He was saying it was directed and passed down by the State Department, that it was a legitimate operation and they also had some private funding backing, which isn’t unusual with these kinds of things. Essentially he was like, ‘We’re going to topple Maduro.’ At that point I was like, ‘This doesn’t seem legitimate” and we broke ways.”

Goudreau claims that the Trump administration and Venezuelan resistance leader Juan Guaidó green-lit the operation.

The U.S. and Venezuela have had a contentious relationship over the past few years. The political unrest in Venezuela has continued to draw criticism from the international community as Venezuelans have protested for a new leader. When the relationship with Trump soured, Maduro began to claim that the U.S. was attempting to overthrow the government.

Both the U.S. and Colombian governments have denied any involvement in the alleged coup.

Reports state that the group of men attempting to topple the Venezuelan government did nothing to hide their plan. The security group was tweeting their plans to the open-world alerting anyone with a Twitter account to their plans. SilverCorp USA has since deleted their Twitter account. Experts and officials have decisively denied any collaboration between the mercenaries and the two governments.

“There is no way that I can see any kind of U.S. involvement,” Fernando Cutz, who served as a Latin America adviser on the National Security Council under both Obama and Trump, told the Huffington Post. “There were no logistics, the numbers were a joke, they clearly didn’t have any intel. A group of high schoolers would have done a better job.”

Social media has spent time dragging the security company over its failed coup attempt.

There is still a lot of speculation swirling around the “coup.” However, Goudreau’s friend is pretty sure that the missions was not as official as Goudreau claims.

“He’s a good man,” White told Daily Mail. “He was the best man at my wedding. We have a lot of history together and it never seemed like he was lying like that. But once you started looking at it, none of it really added up. He kept asking to meet with people for funding. But typically with a State Department contract, the funding is shored up. You might have some private entities helping here and there. But it was pretty obvious that it was not a state-sanctioned activity.”

READ: Venezuela’s President Maduro And Opposition Leader Guaidó Are Allegedly In Secret Talks And The World Wants To Know The Details