Venezuela left in the dark, again


Just a week after a nation-wide blackout left several states without electricity for hours, Venezuela's capital of Caracas and at least two other states were left in the dark again.

"Transmission crews are working to restore service in areas of #Caracas," said Venezuela's National Electrical Corporation, Corpoelec, on its Twitter feed Monday. Thousands of Twitter users had been complaining of no electricity since 4 a.m. that morning.

Additionally, two other states, Anzoategui and Tachira, also reported blackouts.

Monday's blackout is the second one to affect the country in less than 10 days. On Friday, June 27, a power plant failure knocked out electricity across a big swath of Venezuela, darkening the lights at a nationally televised presidential speech and forcing a suspension of subway and train services around the country. The outage affected at least 14 of the oil-rich South American country's 23 states. Venezuela has been affected by seven large-scale blackouts in the past five years, in what analysts have dubbed a nationwide electrical emergency.

Openly critical newspaper sold to unknown buyer

The Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, one of the largest in the country, has been sold to a little-known Spanish firm, becoming the third major local media that changes hands in less than a year and a half.

El Universal is one of only three remaining national newspapers openly critical of Venezuela's socialist government and one the country's oldest and most prestigious dailies. The move increases fears that dwindling space for critical, independent media in this strife-torn country could soon disappear. Pressure on the media has increased this year, amid the political unrest and protests against a crumbling economy and spiraling violence.

El Universal was sold to a "Spanish group," said Elides Rojas, editor of the newspaper, to the Associated Press. Rojas did not disclose the identity of the buyer, claiming confidentiality reasons.

Rojas said that with the purchase of El Universal, the Spanish group will make its first foray into Venezuela and plans to make other investments in different areas.

The new president of the publication, Jesus Abreu Anselmi, addressed the newsroom Friday, giving assurances that the buyers had no government links and that the newspaper's editorial line wouldn't change.

Abreu confirmed the buyer is Epalisticia, a Spanish company, but gave no additional details. Little information is available about this unknown company, which the Spanish media says was formed with the sole purpose of purchasing El Universal.

A newsprint shortage combined with government harassment of journalists and media it accuses of plotting its overthrow has made the task of running a Venezuelan newspaper increasingly difficult. In the past year, more than a dozen Venezuelan papers have closed or reduced their print editions because of a lack of dollars to buy newsprint. 

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