Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments this weekend on widespread power outages in Venezuela came back to bite him after the “German Dam” he said exploded turned out to be the name of a journalist covering the issue.
“Today another transformer explosion at the German Dam in Bolivar State caused another massive blackout,” the Florida Republican tweeted Saturday. “The result? Critically ill patients have died, the #Caracas metro remains out of service & few if any flights have arrived at or departed from Caracas in over 20 hours.”
Rubio is correct that there was an explosion that cut off electricity in some areas. A transformer exploded in the Sidor substation in Guayana, a city in the Venezuelan state of Bolívar. That information was reported by a journalist by the name of Germán Dam, who Rubio seemed to think was an actual, literal dam.
Dam responded to Rubio’s misleading tweet confirming “an important transformer exploded in Bolívar and that, in part, again collapsed the Venezuelan Electric System; however it was not in a dam, much less german.”
“My name is Germán Dam, I am one of the journalists who published the information,” he said.
Several people on Twitter poked fun at the misunderstanding, a lighthearted break from the concern over Venezuela’s current blackout. Others highlighted the danger of politicians not doing their homework before making such statements.
Rubio’s tweet still remained up as of Sunday afternoon, the second post in a thread about the power outages in Venezuela.
The blackout that began Thursday has left much of crisis-stricken Venezuela without power, including the capital of Caracas, which has since regained some electricity. The state-owned power operator blamed the outage on “sabotage” at the Guri Dam, a hydroelectric station vital to Venezuela’s power grid.
Electricity outages are not uncommon for the country, where the economy is collapsing and there are food and medicine shortages. Critics have said corruption and lack of infrastructure investment left Venezuela’s power grid in poor condition. But the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro said last week the outages were due to “the electric war announced and directed by American imperialism against our people.”
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez described the outage as a cyberattack on the Guri Dam’s operating system. He even specifically blamed Rubio, who has been vocal in calling for regime change in the South American country. Rubio responded to Rodriguez via Twitter, calling him the “Baghdad Bob” of Caracas.
Rodriguez “revealed I caused the nationwide & ongoing electric power outage in #Venezuela,” Rubio tweeted. “My apologies to people of Venezuela. I must have pressed the wrong thing on the “electronic attack” app I downloaded from Apple. My bad.”