More blackouts hit Venezuela as opposition, government rally

More blackouts hit Venezuela as opposition, government rally

Local media and Twitter users reported that the outage was affecting the capital of Caracas as well as 15 of the country's 23 states.

"They always say the same thing", said Carlos Ramos, an economist who was waiting to see a doctor outside the darkened lobby of a Caracas hospital.

Despite worldwide outcry at Maduro's decision to turn back the aid convoy, Elliott Abrams, U.S. President Donald Trump's special representative for Venezuela, on Friday ruled out the use of force to deliver humanitarian assistance.

Although the embattled Venezuelan leader did not specify any names, his comments were apparently referring to the United States, which endorsed his political arch-foe Juan Guaido.

Much of the country remained without power on Saturday morning, including the presidential palace of Miraflores, which was running on back-up power generators, according to Reuters witnesses.

Generators at a Caracas children's hospital failed, with staff reportedly working overnight using their mobile phones for light.

The only one of Brazil's 27 states not connected to its national grid, Roraima gets half its supply from the Guri plant.

"The electricity war declared and directed by the imperialist United States against our people will be overcome!" "I assure you that every attempt [to express] imperial aggression will be met with a forceful response from the patriots that we love and defend, with courage, our Homeland", Maduro said on Saturday.

Both Guaido and Maduro, who are locked in a bitter power struggle for the right to lead the oil-rich South American nation, have asked their supporters to fill the streets of Caracas and other cities.

Marielsi Aray, a patient at the University Hospital suffering from an aggravated infection, died at dawn on Friday after her respirator stopped working, her uncle Jose Lugo said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shot back saying only Maduro was to blame.

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

"Maduro's policies bring nothing but darkness", he added in a separate message, then, "No food". Sabotage is burning food and medicine. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez described it as a cyberattack on the dam's operating system which signals to machines whether to boost or diminish power based on capacity and demand. "Now, no power. Next, no Maduro".

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.

Venezuelan opposition activists scuffled with police on Saturday morning in the run-up to a rally meant to keep up pressure on acting President Nicolas Maduro. The capital's global airport was hit, according to social media posts from would-be travelers. Others posted photos of long lines of cars at gas stations in hopes of getting fuel. A man anguished that he'd gone 17 hours without hearing from his mother.

Authorities quickly blamed the outage on anti-government saboteurs.

Netblocks, a non-government group based in Europe that monitors internet censorship, said Saturday that the second outage had knocked out nearly all of Venezuela's telecommunications infrastructure.

However the BBC's Will Grant in Caracas says the blackout has affected public transport and mobility in the capital city and may have an impact on turnout. Business owners griped over losses certain to compound an already bleak economic outlook.

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