Guaido calls mass demos in Venezuela to protest blackout

Posted March 13, 2019

Describing the situation in Venezuela as a "catastrophe", he said the blackout had claimed "dozens" of lives since it began on Thursday. Desperate residents are fetching water from a polluted river and drainage pipes, with schools and businesses closed and stores unable to keep cold and fresh whatever food is on hand. Generators have alleviated conditions for some of the critically ill.

"Donald Trump is most responsible for the cyber attack on the Venezuelan electricity system", Maduro said in a broadcast from the Miraflores presidential palace on Monday night. However, Russia, China, Turkey, and a number of other countries condemned the move and expressed support for the legitimate president, Maduro. He also said two people who were trying to sabotage power facilities were captured and were providing information to authorities, though he gave no details.

Pompeo sought to counter claims that the chief USA concern is Venezuela's oil, and argued again that Maduro's grip on power was weakening as the country continues to suffer through extended power and water shortages.

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Maduro's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Tuesday that they were behind the departure of remaining USA diplomats, ordering them to leave after talks over their continued presence broke down Monday.

The US says it is pulling its last remaining diplomats from Venezuela, saying their continued presence at the embassy in Caracas had become a "constraint" on US policy as the Trump administration aggressively looks to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"The situation there is deteriorating", he said. Guaido tweeted about reports of looting in some cities, but details were hard to confirm.

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Mr Pompeo said that "India has been incredibly supportive of our efforts on Iran" where the USA has imposed strict sanctions after backing out of the multi-national agreement for Tehran to end its nuclear programme. There were widespread reports of looting on Monday in the city of Maracaibo. The majority of the country's Internet network remained offline.

Pompeo added that Russian Federation joins Cuba in showing contempt for the rule of law and prosperity in Venezuela.

Adding to tension over Venezuela's fate, the last US diplomats in Venezuela prepared to head home as relations between the United States and Maduro deteriorated further.

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The crisis in Venezuela further deteriorated after on January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country's Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country's capital of Caracas. Maduro accuses Guaido and the United States of plotting an invasion.