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Argentina Goes Dark

image credit: ID 58061610 © Veronika Peskova | Dreamstime.com

Most of Argentina’s 44 million inhabitants, along with many Uruguyans and Paraguayans, woke up without power on Sunday. The lights would finally come back on much later the same day. Public and transportation in Buenos Aires was halted, phone and internet connections were thrown out of whack, some water services shut down, and businesses were forced to close their doors.

At the time this is being written, authorities are still unsure of what caused the massive blackout. One theory floating around is that a power line at an Argentinian hydro-plant went down, sparking a chain of failures. Argentine Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui promised a thorough investigation during a press conference and predicted that it would become available in 10-15 days. He admitted that a cyber-attack couldn’t yet be ruled out, but stressed that he thought it was unlikely.

Argentina’s grid, which is interconnected with those of other South American nations, is now under international scrutiny. Energy officials from the country claim that the grid is especially sturdy, but not everyone is so sure. Some commentators claim the system has fallen into disrepair after years of stagnant rates and widespread economic problems. They argue that far from exceptional, localized failures are normal and a healthy system should be able to contain them.

The blackout seemed to compound an already grim mood that’s overtaken Argentina in the past couple of years. Mauricio Macri, the country’s conservative leader, has seen his ratings plunge in the wake of various austerity measures that have seemingly failed to curb one of the world’s worst inflation rates. This latest failure won’t do anything to calm Argentines’ nerves, many of whom are already comparing the blackout to that which plagued Venezuela a few months ago. Macri is up for election this fall, let’s see if he can hang on.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 24, 2019 8:25 pm GMT

Even when the cause is not malicious and the problem is solved, seeing just how much of an impact an outage can cause is definitely a bit harrowing. 

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