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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 The document, originally made public by WikiLeaks, was put together by Srdja Popovic at a Belgrade-based US government-funded “democracy promotion” organization called the Center for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.

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.

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