Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a 30-day plan to ration electricity after nationwide power cuts that have inflicted misery on millions of people and ignited protests, including one near the presidential palace in Caracas.
The rationing plan will help deal with the outages that have also cut off the water supply and communications for days at a time, Maduro said on Sunday in a speech on national television in which he also warned against any unrest in reaction to the blackouts.
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“I have approved a 30-day plan to regulate the [electricity] output,” Maduro said as the country experienced its fourth major power outage in the month of March.
Maduro blamed the blackout on a “terrorist attack against the electricity system” by Washington and the “putschist opposition”.
Earlier on Sunday, Venezuela‘s Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said that public and private sector workers would stop working at 2pm (18:00 GMT) on Monday while school children will be given another day off while work continued to repair the network.
The opposition has attributed the power outages to a lack of investment in the national grid, poor upkeep and a failure to tackle repairs.
“There is no sabotage,” Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, wrote on Twitter. “They brought the electrical system to a collapse because they are corrupt and now they can’t resolve it because they are incapable,” the country’s self-declared interim president added.
Guaido, who has been recognised as Venezuela’s caretaker president by dozens of countries, including the United States, is trying to overthrow Maduro, who has presided over a massive economic crisis in the country and won a second term in a disputed election last year.
Hours before Maduro’s appeal for calm, protests broke out in neighbourhoods in the capital and other cities following a call by Guaido to demonstrate against the government’s failure to provide basic services.
Many took to balconies and building windows to bang pots in protest and shout curses at Maduro. They also burned rubbish and blocked roads.