Venezuela blames US for power outage

7 Mar 2019

Venezuela has announced a cyber-attack on its hydroelectric power operations caused power outage in the country. The cyber-attack was attributed to the USA by President Maduro as an act of ‘the electric war announced and led by the US imperialism against our people’ on Twitter. This was promptly denied by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Maduro stated that Venezuela suffered another cyber-attack on 9 March. On 11 March, the Venezuelan government ordered US diplomatic personnel to leave Venezuela in 72 hours, as their presence ‘represents a risk for the peace, unity and stability of the country’. The US Department of State has confirmed it is withdrawing its personnel on 11 March. The electric service was restored on 12 March and stabilised in its entirety within the following days. Maduro announced that a special commission will be created to investigate the cyber-attack, with Venezuela asking for the support of the UN and countries with experience in cyber-attacks such as China, Russia, Iran, and Cuba. He also revealed that the attack originated from US cities Chicago and Houston. On 13 March, Maduro stated the sabotage was threefold, and included a cyber-attack on the central hydro plant Guri, an electromagnetic attack on the transmission lines and physical attacks to substations to generate fires and short circuits. Experts, on the other hand, consider the lack of proper maintenance and negligence to be the cause ot the power outage. On 21 March, Maduro stated that the electric war continues.

Explore the issues

Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.

The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda.


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