Guaido calls for march on Caracas as crippling blackout drags on

Leroy Wright
March 13, 2019

An investigation carried by local Venezuela outlet Caracas Chronicles concluded on Sunday that the power cut across the country was caused by overheating in the country's largest and most important power lines.

Caracas Mayor Erika Farias told Venezuela's Telesur television that electric power has been "progressively" restored starting early Sunday after the blackout last Thursday - more than 72 hours ago - affected much of the country.

The blackout has intensified the toxic political climate, with opposition leader Juan Guáido blaming alleged government corruption and mismanagement and President Nicolás Maduro accusing his United States-backed adversary of sabotaging the national grid.

At the opposition rally, Guaido said he would not invoke an article of the Venezuelan constitution allowing the congress to authorise foreign military operations within Venezuela "until we have to". He has been recognized as Venezuela's legitimate leader by the United States and most Western countries, but Maduro retains control of the armed forces and state functions.

"There are countless conversations going on between members of the National Assembly and members of the military in Venezuela; talking about what might come, how they might move to support the opposition", Bolton said. The deals have drawn scrutiny from the opposition and its allies overseas as Venezuela's economic crisis worsened.

"We must attend to this catastrophe immediately".

So far, the military has stuck with Maduro. He did not specify any measures the US government may take.

US Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams confirmed that Washington is pressing India to stop buying Venezuelan oil.

Venezuela plunges into darkness as state powers lock horns
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a rally in support of his government in Caracas. Miraflores Palace Handout via REUTERS

Food rotted in refrigerators, people walked for miles to get to work.

"This is driving me insane", said Naile Gonzalez in Chacaito, a commercial neighborhood of Caracas.

However, in the states of Zulia, Aragua, Carabobo, Tachira and at least 11 more of the country's 23 states, residents are still in the dark.

He cited reports that the deaths of 17 hospital patients, 15 of them in the city of Maturin, were linked to the outage, but did not provide details. He said the government was rationing electricity.

"We once had the best electricity system in the world - the most vigorous, the most robust, the most powerful - and those who now administer the system have destroyed it", he said.

State oil company PDVSA said on Sunday that fuel supplies were guaranteed. Reuters was unable to independently verify the figure, and the government's Information Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

CARACAS - Venezuelans woke up to a fourth day of an unprecedented nationwide blackout on Sunday, leaving residents concerned about the impacts of the lack of electricity on the South American country's health, communications and transport systems.

Venezuela is already struggling with hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

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