Economy

Massive Venezuela power outage raises tensions amid crisis

Massive Venezuela power outage raises tensions amid crisis

Venezuela's government is struggling to cope with a massive electricity blackout that has paralysed much of the country as President Nicolas Maduro blamed the chaos on USA sabotage.

The power cut was believed to have hit up to 23 of the country's 24 states, though with mobile networks and internet largely out of action, the situation in some areas was unclear.

Mr Maduro is struggling in the confrontation with Guaido, who has declared himself interim president and is now backed by some 50 countries led by the United States.

Washington this week revoked the USA visas of senior Venezuelan officials and said on Wednesday it had identified efforts by Maduro to work with foreign banks to move and hide money.

The opposition blames Maduro's socialist policies for Venezuela's hyperinflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.

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

Maduro, who succeeded revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez after his death in 2013, won last year's presidential election amid accusations of irregularities, suppression of critics and a boycott by much of the opposition.

Some lawmakers pressed Abrams, who was appointed to his current position in January, about granting temporary protected status (TPS) for Venezuelans in the United States.

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Venezuela plunges into darkness amid widespread outage

Guaido tweeted that Venezuela has plenty of hydroelectric plants and more. Venezuela can still contest the award. While power started to return to some parts of Caracas officials are so far unable to fully restore the supply. It was not immediately clear if the power shortages affected oil operations in the OPEC nation. State oil company PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.

In Caracas, scores of people walked through the streets early in the morning due to the closure of the metro, while others took the few buses that were circulating. "All the more reason to give them TPS". U.S. Vice President Mike Pence flew to Colombia Feb. 25 to meet with Guaido and his supporters and reassert the United States' support for the opposition leader.

"Everyone is hoping that with Guaido, the country will go back to being normal", said Yamila Oliveros, a 53-year-old architect. That when I open the tap, water comes out.

"This is the second day I've spent here and now there is no light", said Guerra.

A man on a motorbike gestures against police forces during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela March 9, 2019.

Meanwhile, backers of President Nicolas Maduro planned to hold a rival demonstration as power returned to many parts of Venezuela after the country's worst blackout.

Maduro, who maintains that Guaido is part of a US -backed plot to oust him, tweeted Saturday that "each act of imperialist aggression will meet an overwhelming response".

At the same time, supporters of Maduro held a rival demonstration in a separate district of the Venezuelan capital that drew a mass of people protesting against the US and its "brutal aggression" against the South American country. Maduro has consistently attributed major power outages to sabotage by opposition adversaries, without providing evidence. They have not updated their timetable.

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