A lack of transmission-line maintenance may have been the immediate trigger for the power outage that left much of Venezuela in darkness on March 7, but it is a symptom of almost two decades of government mismanagement that has debilitated Venezuela’s power sector, draining its reserves of both human and financial capital and nudging it towards collapse.
Venezuela’s longest-ever blackout, which began on March 7 and lasted until at least March 12 in most of the country, aggravated an already dire humanitarian situation. Lisa Viscidi presented to a special meeting of the OAS Permanent Council about how grave government mismanagement of the power sector debilitated Venezuela’s grid, making electricity rationing a routine and power failures commonplace.
Across Latin America, the sustained decline in global oil prices has had a profound impact on economic growth, political stability and the viability of resource nationalism – when governments assert more control over the nation’s natural resources.
While Mexico’s oil and gas reform has stolen the limelight, the electricity reform is more critical to the country’s economic growth.
The results of Mexico’s energy reforms may fall well short of government promises and public expectations.
Natural gas has the potential to reduce Central America’s high energy costs and mitigate its dependence on imported oil.