(Bloomberg) -- The man seeking to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on residents of poorer areas south of the capital to protest his rule, as three blackouts in less than a month have virtually shut down the country. Many schools and businesses have been closed for five days.
“We will continue to hit the streets,” Juan Guaido, head of the National Assembly recognized as interim president by some 50 nations, told protesters Saturday in San Antonio de Los Altos. “All we have left to do is to conquer our freedom.”
Unlike other protests since January, Guaido did not call for huge rallies in the capital of Caracas but rather urged Venezuelans to protest at key locations or in their own neighborhoods. He traveled to several towns about an hour south of Caracas to urge them on.
“My food is rotting and my appliances are going haywire,¨ said Yolanda Bellorin, a retired lawyer protesting among her neighbors in Caracas’ Colinas de la California neighborhood. “All of my children live abroad and I can’t communicate with them. This has to end.”
Maduro, opposed by the U.S. but supported by Russia and China, also called for protests near downtown Caracas, drawing a couple hundred each.
Residents of the capital are now bracing for power rationing, a measure announced by Maduro’s regime as authorities try to fix the crisis-torn nation’s shaky grid. The government has tried to shield Caracas at all costs by diverting energy and resources, but few believe the capital can continue to be safeguarded from years of mismanagement and decay.
In fact, a third national outage darkened large parts of the country later Friday afternoon until the late evening.
Maduro has blamed the outages on sabotage, from a gunman who unloaded rounds into a “vital” transmission system to a “cybernetic attack” launched by the U.S., but offered no evidence. Experts have said the more likely case is years of lack of maintenance.
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