11 March 2019 — Peoples Dispatch
Special report produced by Misión Verdad on the cyber attacks on Venezuela’s central hydroelectric plant, which left at least 80% of the population without electricity
Between the afternoon of March 8 and the early morning of March 10, Venezuela was the victim of a new sabotage attack, the biggest in its republican history, this time on the Guri hydroelectric plant, which left at least 80% of the population without electricity, with the aim of undermining any attempt by the Venezuelan government to stabilize the economy and curb the insurrectionary context the United States and its minions, like Juan Guaidó, are trying to bring to fruition in the country.
1. Preparing for shock. Prior to the sabotage that shook the entire National Electric System, leaving much of the country without electricity during the last two days, several moves and pronouncements announced that they would resort to such an action of brute force.
Guaidó’s false epic return lasted less than expected on the front pages; with the arrival of the “interim president” there were no critical defections in the Armed Forces (FANB) that together with widespread social revolt would install him in Miraflores to get hold of power. That round of recovery (his glorious arrival in Maiquetía), after the defeat on February 23, the day on which he took for granted the entry of “humanitarian aid,” had no effect beyond the temporary media frenzy. As a result, Guaidó returned to the uncomfortable starting point of two months ago. Worn out by the February 23 defeat and without concrete actions of presidential command that would catapult him domestically, the orchestration of the following operations would be entirely run by the United States.
An excited as usual Marco Rubio, announced hours before the blackout that “Venezuelans will live the most severe shortage of food and gasoline,” revealing he had knowledge that some kind of shock would happen in the next few hours. For its part, the Russian government issued a statement alerting that “the United States is developing a backup plan that seeks to introduce trained illegal armed groups in Venezuela in order to carry out sabotage and other subversive activities. The ongoing dirty war was alerted by both sides of the geopolitical conflict over Venezuela.
Rubio’s self-fulfilling prophecy came true in a generalized blackout that had an expanded impact on the country’s banking, telecommunications and vital public services network (hospitals, water supply, transportation, etc.), hindering their functioning for as long as possible and paralyzing the population’s routine activities. In short, a covert attack on the gravitational centre of the Venezuelan electricity system, planned to intensify social and economic discontent, thus reviving the “humanitarian crisis” and “failed state” narrative, with which they hoped to reactivate Guaidó’s flagging’s leadership.
But this tendency to appeal to anti-political options and unconventional warfare when political resources fail is neither new nor recent (it suffices to remember the continued attacks on the electricity system when the colour revolutions of 2014 and 2017 began to ebb away). In his own way Bloomberg hinted at this in its latest report. Guaidó’s wear and tear, his inability to lead a reasonably serious transition process, clears the way for attacks such as the one against the Guri system, armed violence, irregular Contra Nicaraguan-style war, to become “legitimate” and “urgent” alternatives to confront Chavismo. Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, the father of the mercenary war against Nicaragua in the 1980s, has ample knowledge of these forms of war.
2. Embargo and sanctions: weapons of mass destruction. In addition to the historical vulnerabilities of an electricity system dependent on oil revenues, there has been a ferocious policy of financial sanctions that has diminished the capacity for public investment in strategic branches of the State. Venezuelan money seized by the United States is worth 30 billion dollars, which, using Guaidó’s “parallel government” as a tool, has left the country without liquid resources to deal with the difficulties brought about by the sanctions. Meanwhile, Guaidó uses the embargoed money, allegedly, to scurrilously cancel some interest on the foreign debt.
The national electricity system has been under attack for an explosive mixture between disinvestment, intensified by the financial blockade, loss of specialized technical personnel due to salary depreciation and systematic sabotage operations, the latest always put into effect when the political offensive is recovered by Chavismo. Chris Floyd, author of The Empire Burlesque, was right to designate financial sanctions as a “holocaust”: the use of this weapon of mass destruction in countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria, shows that the damage to the crucial infrastructure of the world’s poorest countries, such as Iraq, Iran and Syria, is similar to an intense bombing campaign with cruise missiles.
In this sense, the blackout is an extension of the embargo against Venezuela, of U.S. policy of restricting imports, blocking accounts and obstructing access to liquid money in the international financial markets and in its own oil market, prohibiting the payment of exports to Venezuela. The blackout is also a metaphor for the state of siege under which the country is maintained and how the financial blockade, which hinders the use of money to recover an already weakened national electricity system that sustains the country’s oil and economic activity, is a substitute for military weapons.
3. The modality of the cybernetic coup and crime against humanity. At first, and this is what Guaidó would make known with his call for a “national strike” last Tuesday in front of some public administration unions, a forceful action would precipitate this announced paralysis. The modality of manufacturing a situation of collapse, as when the Credicard payment platform in 2016, annulled its system to interrupt all commercial and economic activities in the country, this time was executed by expanding its radius of affectation.
The burden of stress and discontent is sought to induce in the population, as fuel to stimulate a situation of generalized anarchy, which could somehow be channeled into violent protests in favour of Guaidó. This indicates that the strategy of chaos (through cyber sabotage and craft focused on critical infrastructure that make the country work) is used as a tool of massive shock in order to wear the population down. The operation is not only of electricity war, because its consequences cover all the routine activities of Venezuelan society, to which access to the food, to hospital service and to basic communications is obstructed. The violent outbreaks they sought to ignite quickly became extinct in a climate of collective exhaustion that awaited the arrival of electricity.
A crime against humanity seen in the light of the Rome Statute and international law, while seeking the physical destruction of a population group using as weapons of war the basic elements of its subsistence.
Marco Rubio and Mike Pompeo reacted jokingly to the blackout with a charge of humiliation and sadism that accurately reflects the motivations and underlying strategy of the coup against Venezuela: as the “Guaidó plan” fails to achieve its objectives of achieving the fracture of the FANB that oust Maduro, the civilian population (without ideological discrimination) becomes a prime victim of the continuous covert military aggression led by the United States.
This cybernetic coup against the national electricity system implies a de facto military aggression, an extension of the one that occurred on the Colombian-Venezuelan border on February 23.
4. It is not an end in itself: conditions for irregular warfare. Since Guaidó’s return his media projection has become marginal. This premeditated reduction of its visibility contrasts with the increasing weight that the Southern Command, John Bolton, Marco Rubio and Mike Pompeo have in terms of the orientation of regime change. In this sense, the harmful effects of the blackout fit perfectly with the narrative of “humanitarian crisis”, under which the Southern Command and Venezuelan ultra-right, since 2016, mobilize the “urgency” of activating a device of “humanitarian intervention” that neutralizes the prohibition of the U.S. Congress, the UN Security Council and the pragmatic consensus for the non-intervention that has been emerging in Latin America.
However, the blackout as such is not an end in itself. On an operational level, it would seem, especially because of the blackout generated by the interruption of the electricity system, that rather this is a maneuver to sharpen the country’s vulnerabilities and measure the military response capacity of the Republic’s defensive systems in the face of irregular and mercenary military action, which would take advantage of the information blockade to cover up armed incursions, its operational map and those directly responsible on the ground.
Therefore, at the level of the theatre of operations of the war against Venezuela, the blackout translates into the generation of a diffuse and confusing panorama that would favour the execution of false flag operations, paramilitary incursions and other violent actions that precipitate a state of generalized commotion, which could be presented as the triggering event of a preventative military intervention, either to “stabilize the country due to the humanitarian crisis” or to “save Venezuelans from a situation of failed state” in “humanitarian crisis”. Within this narrative framework, Julio Borges, Antonio Ledezma, Juan Gauidó and the war cabinet against Venezuela, work hand in hand protected by the doctrine of controlled chaos of US manufacturing.
With the blackout, they seek to give physical concreteness to the “humanitarian crisis”, not only at a propaganda level, but also taking advantage of the human casualties and complications of a various types generated by the sabotage operation.
5. Characteristics of the aggression. This time there was no attack on substations or electricity transmission lines, as had been tried on different occasions, according to CIA sabotage manuals against the Sandinista Nicaragua of the 80s, already declassified.
It should be noted that the software used (called Scada) in the Automated Control System (SCA), that operates the functioning of the engines, is the one created by the company ABB, which has not worked in the country for years. This ABB company, which in Venezuela worked as ABB Trilateral Consortium (ABB Venezuela, ABB Canada, ABB Switzerland), designed a Guri modernization project at the end of the last decade, during the government of Hugo Chávez, in which it describes in depth both the system under attack and the basic organization of Guri.
Geopolitical analyst Vladimir Adrianza Salas, in an interview with TeleSur, relates the attack with the consortium. He explained that the Guri dam “requires a control system that is technically called ‘scada system’, which is nothing more than a system of supervision, control and data requisition that allows, from a computer perspective, to control all the elements of energy generation. If you sabotage this, you sabotage the operation. But to sabotage this you need two things: either you must have access from the outside or you must have internal complicity to modify the processes.
Precedents of this type are found in countries directly attacked or pressured by the United States, such as Iraq and Lebanon, where blackouts have been systematic and consecutive, one after the other for tens of hours. The “aftershocks” in the interruption of the energy supply would respond to these sequences of offensives that have already been experienced in other contexts of asymmetric and irregular warfare.
The creation of hacker armies and cyber-war materials by the CIA and NSA has been documented by this website: we reviewed a documentary explaining the origin of the Stuxnet virus, which should point to the corridors of these U.S. intelligence agencies. That cyber-attack instrument aimed both at sabotaging nuclear research facilities in Iran and at installing a circumstantial picture that could lead to an attack on Iran’s automated national electricity network (analogous to the Guri system), in the event of a declared war between Washington and the Islamic Republic.
President Nicolás Maduro, in the evening hours of March 9, was certain that this was the biggest attack against Venezuela in the last 200 republican years, after the attack on the national electrical system was extended intermittently at 60 hours.
6. Slow down recovery trends. The blackout occurs amid trends in recovery at different scales, at an economic level, a decline in prices of sensitive food has reduced the tension at the beginning of the year, while at a financial level the restructuring of the exchange market has managed to contain one of the variables of induced inflation: the rise in the price of currencies on the black market. These tendencies have favoured the political stability of the country, amid unconventional aggression and threats of military intervention, taking away from Guaidó not only the power of convocation, but also the capacity of maneuver to capitalize the generalized discontent caused by the sanctions.
Thus, the blackout seeks to curb these tendencies of social, political and economic recovery, aggravating by means of a generalized boycott the means of payment, access to food and hospitals and the normal development of Venezuelan society. Similarly, the aggressiveness of the attack aims to weaken the country’s oil and industrial production.
7. The country’s conscience (remember 2002-2003) and the pulse of intervention. Just as in 2002, the Venezuelan population has experienced a generalized baptism of fire. A sabotage operation aimed at precipitating a generalized chaos, which puts at risk the health and food of the people, the economic activity of the country, its telecommunications and our most basic routines, takes us back to the landscape of the oil sabotage of the years 2002-2003, where the opposition of that moment, the same ones that manage an intervention together with the United States and Colombia today, executed a state of siege paralyzing the oil industry.
The reaction of the population, psychologically attacked during the last years in order to stimulate them to a civil war that makes an intervention possible, has been adverse to the calculation of sabotage. Calm has been imposed, the use of portable stoves in buildings and neighbourhoods for cooking, the mobilization of the country’s physical resources to deal with the most pressing emergencies, but above all the generalized vocation of the country not to fall into a provocation that seeks to lead to a civil and armed confrontation. The violence was defeated as in 2002-2003, that landscape that marks our contemporary history today offers the lesson that after a test of fire has been overcome, where the brutality of the coup is of massive impact, the cohesion of the people is reaffirmed.
At the close of this publication, Juan Guaidó is trying to channel the impact of the blackout to “declare an extraordinary emergency” in the National Assembly, because according to him “the time has come to take the step,” flirting with the idea of using the Constitution to legitimize an intervention. Precisely in this orientation as a way of closing the cycle of sabotage, it can be seen that the end of the blackout endeavors to fabricate the conditions of anarchy, chaos and absence of vital services, to press for a “humanitarian intervention” on Venezuelan soil, with the approval of the National Assembly and the “coalition of Latin American countries”, ready to take forceful action, which John Bolton is arming.
That pressure, however, is specific and staggered. In view of the arrival of the technical mission of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the blackout will seek to be channeled towards a deepening of the “humanitarian crisis” file in Venezuela, which, if well managed and promoted in the media, could result in a change of position at the level of the region, of the UN itself, of the U.S. Congress, on the “urgency” of a “humanitarian relief” action requested by the “parallel government.
A maneuver that lowers the curtains for Guaidó, who is trapped in an ill-conceived plan and dependent on the chain of command of the war cabinet against Venezuela in Washington, must be sacrificed in order to give way to war. A sufficiently convincing image of the sacrifice is that a politician uses a lever of state power, in this case the National Assembly, to legitimize a foreign military intervention. A suicide accompanied by sectors of the Caracas ultra-right, direct sons of the first Spanish colonizers, who are clamouring for the activation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that destroyed Libya, Kosovo, Iraq, and other regions that the United States has plundered to maintain its status as a world power.
But the blackout must be another lesson, and it must force us to look at the social codes and collective and solidarity habits that emerged in 2002-2003, weapons as a historical and spiritual community at our disposal to maintain the thread of life of our homeland’s history.
Translated by Francisco Domínguez.
March 10, 2019