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On 7 March, Venezuela was hit by a mass power cut. Around 70% of the country was plunged into darkness, with internet access and phone signal unavailable during the blackout. Within three minutes, the US Senator, Marco Rubio, broke the news on Twitter, before any other news source had reported on it. He clearly had prior knowledge of the power cut. How? Its cause was a US cyber attack on Venezuela.
Cyber warfare is relatively new. Its most famous and direct use was the case of the Stuxnet virus. This was used by the US and Israel to target Iranian nuclear energy facilities, destroying around one fifth of them before it was discovered and stopped in 2010. Whilst this demonstrated the capability of cyber warfare maneuvers to target industrial infrastructure, its scope was relatively limited by comparison to the attack in Venezuela. This demonstrates that cyber warfare can, effectively, be used to cast a whole population into chaos. Coupled with a more traditional military intervention, the effects could be devastating.
It is important to understand that cyber warfare attacks of this nature are by no means "nonviolent". In point of fact, they directly target some of the most vulnerable people by cutting power to hospitals. As a consequence of the US' attack on Venezuela's electrical grid, the opposition claims that 21 hospital patients have died - 6 of them children. If this is so, then their blood is on the US' hands, with both the power outage and the lack of fuel to power back up generators due to sanctions wholly its responsibility.
Although the US has denied any role in the matter, the Maduro government has made clear it will be presenting evidence to the world shortly. Power is still unavailable in many places in Venezuela, despite the Maduro government's attempts to restore it. This is due to further sabotage on the electrical grid, the latest on a generator in Barura, Caracas, in the early hours of 11 March.
It is the duty of all anti imperialists and communists to denounce the US' cyber attack on Venezuela. They represent a drastic escalation of the US' recent coup attempts and an answer to the US-backed fascist opposition leader Juan Guaido's recent requests for military intervention. We must be clear: cyber warfare is war; the US has committed an act of war. With the Trump administration maintaining that "all options are on the table", the US State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo's announcement today that all US diplomatic personnel will withdraw from Venezuela as their presence is a 'constraint on US policy' and Guaido's call for a national emergency, we must act now to prevent further escalation.
Hands off Venezuela!