Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Venezuela in Turmoil: Pro and anti-govy protests held in Caracas

Venezuela in Turmoil: Pro and anti-govy protests held in Caracas

Riot police blocked protesters as thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday with tensions rising between opposition leader Juan Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro after crisis-wracked Venezuela emerged from the chaos of an electricity blackout.

Guaido has asked foreign countries to ramp up pressure on Maduro and to help get humanitarian aid into the country.

"Miraflores, Miraflores!" chanted Mr Guaido's supporters in response, a reference to the presidential palace now occupied by Mr Maduro. They make visits to foreign ministries to the most remote from Venezuela countries.

"Intervention, intervention!" cried his supporters.

"Not a president, not anything", said Maduro, who accused Guaido and his USA allies of sabotaging Venezuela's Guri Dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric stations and the cornerstone of Venezuela's electrical grid.

Police overnight had blocked the demonstration's organizers from setting up a stage at the site of the rally, opposition legislators said via Twitter.

Maduro also rallied his supporters.

Guaido is trying to force out Maduro - whose re-election in May he deems illegitimate - in order to set up new elections.

The 35-year-old leader of the National Assembly said he anticipated more government efforts to sideline and intimidate the opposition.

In a defiant tweet early on Saturday he vowed to battle the "brutal aggression against our people", adding: "We will never surrender".

After a failure at the Guri hydroelectric power plant left much of the country without power on Thursday night, Venezuelan authorities managed to restore power to "many parts" of the country.

Residents cross a street in the dark during the power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 7.

"Today we have restored power supply in 70 per cent of the country's territory, but at noon, another cyber attack was committed against one of the facilities, which until then worked perfectly". Media subsequently reported power outages in 21 of Venezuela's 23 states.

The Venezuelan opposition and USA officials say Maduro's attempts to pin blame on his political adversaries is absurd, and that government corruption and mismanagement over many years caused the blackout and wider deterioration of the economy.

Furthermore, hundreds of passengers were left stranded as flights were cancelled at Caracas' Simón Bolívar International Airport owing to the electricity disruption.

Shops remained closed in Caracas and elsewhere on Friday due to the massive power outage.

"The problem is food, I'd bought meat and it's going bad".

Meanwhile US officials, including a vocal proponent of regime change in Venezuela, Senator Marco Rubio, blamed the socialist policies of Maduro's government for letting the country's infrastructure crumble to breaking point.

Problems have been exacerbated by hyperinflation the International Monetary Fund says will reach 10 million per cent this year.

Ecuador's Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming 79 Venezuelans had died as a result of the power cut, which Mr Rodriguez denied.

Critics blame the government for failing to invest in maintaining the electrical grid, although the government often blames external factors when the lights go out.

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