Guaido calls for march as Venezuela blackout drags on
CARACAS, VENEZUELA: Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido called for a nationwide march on Caracas to crank up the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, as the country endured its third night largely without power.
The massive blackout crippling the oil-rich but economically troubled South American nation has fuelled the political standoff between Mr Guaido, who is recognised as Venezuela's leader by more than 50 countries, and Mr Maduro, who is clinging to power.
No national data was available about the impact of the power outage, but non-governmental organisations said at least 15 patients with advanced kidney disease died after they stopped receiving dialysis treatments in darkened hospitals.
As night fell on Saturday, the power across much of the country - which first went off last Thursday - was still not on. Businesses stayed shut, hospitals struggled to operate, and public transport barely functioned.
Mr Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly, earlier told thousands of supporters he would embark on a nationwide listening tour before leading a march on the capital.
"Once we've finished the tour, the organisation in every state, we'll announce the date when all together, we'll come to Caracas," Mr Guaido said.
Security forces had prevented the opposition from setting up a stage at their original protest site, arresting three people.
Mr Maduro also rallied his supporters.
Wearing red, they protested against "imperialism" at a march that marked four years since the US branded Venezuela a "threat" to its security and imposed sanctions.
He said almost 70 per cent of power had been restored by mid-day, when a "cyber attack" was reported at a major power plant.
"That disturbed and undid everything we had achieved," he said.
Mr Francisco Valencia, director of the Codevida health rights group that reported the 15 deaths, said some 10,200 people were at risk because dialysis units had switched off.
"We are talking about 95 per cent of dialysis units, which today likely hit 100 per cent, being paralysed, due to the power outage," he said.
Late on Saturday, entire families parked their cars along the main highway in Caracas in the hopes of capturing faint cell phone service to check on loved ones and get the latest news. - AFP