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Cablegate: Black-Out Hits Fifty Percent of Venezuela

VZCZCXRO2528
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RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHCV #0598 1211943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301943Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1048
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7776
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 2745
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1021
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2836
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS CARACAS 000598

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

HQ SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
TREASURY FOR MMALLOY
COMMERCE FOR 4431/MAC/WH/MCAMERON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON PGOV VE
SUBJECT: BLACK-OUT HITS FIFTY PERCENT OF VENEZUELA

REF: A. 2007 CARACAS 132
B. CARACAS 341

1. (SBU) Summary: On April 29, a black-out caused chaos for
several hours in thirteen Venezuelan states. The BRV
described it as a failure in the national grid system due to
a forest fire near key, high tension lines. The incident
drew attention to the lack of investment in Venezuela's
largely state-owned electricity sector. End Summary.

2. (SBU) According to General Hipolito Izquierdo, President
of the National Electrical Corporation, the power failure
resulted from a forest fire close to high tension lines. He
stated service has been restored in 85 percent of the
country. Media reports indicated the black-out was due to
poor operations and maintenance at the large hydroelectric
plant Raul Leoni in the state of Bolivar.

3. (SBU) The black-out hit Caracas during rush hour, causing
chaos throughout the city. Passengers were trapped in the
city's Metro, and traffic came to a stand-still. Rumors flew
that a coup was in progress. The Minister of Justice and
Interior was quick to state there was no emergency in the
country, just a partial lack of electrical service, which was
being restored.

4. (SBU) An oil executive told us on April 30 service was
halted at Maracaibo International Airport due to a lack of
back-up generators. The airport had emergency lighting but
airline personnel were unable to check passengers in since
their computers did not function.

5. (SBU) The BRV has been promising to increase investment in
the country's electricity sector. In March 2008 the
president of state-owned Electricidad de Caracas (EDC)
announced they would invest USD 3.3 billion, but gave no
details. (Note: EDC was formerly owned by US firm AES before
its nationalization in 2007 (ref A.) End Note.) On April 9
Chavez announced he would use 1 billion dollars from a joint
fund with China to improve service in the electricity sector.


6. (SBU) In spite of these promises, the Electrical Workers
Federation of Venezuela (FETRAELEC) has led strikes and
demonstrations in recent months to highlight the
deteriorating power infrastructure. FETRAELEC President
Angel Naves has stated that "actions of higher profile" are
needed to direct attention to the state of Venezuelan
electrical plants (ref B.)
DUDDY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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