Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Venezuelan judge moves to strip opposition leader's immunity

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Patty Aguilar | 03 April, 2019, 18:22

Guaido - recognised as Venezuela's interim president by some 50 countries - is locked in a power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro that has drawn in neighbouring states as well as superpowers such as the USA and Russian Federation.

The measures are a stark admission by the government - which has sought to blame repeated blackouts in March on sabotage - that there is not enough electricity to go around, and that the power crisis is here to stay.

The Associated Press quotes Maduro as saying on Sunday the rationing would help the government deal with the blackouts that have also affected adversely water supply and communications.

The blackouts have worsened the dire economic and living conditions in a country that is witnessing a political showdown between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized as interim president by the United States and some 50 other countries. "But we're using it", added another.

"I haven't had water at home for 15 days", said Maria Rojas, a 57-year-old looking for a water source to fill her jugs.

The change came as Maduro reiterated plans for a 30-day "load administration" plan, which he first mentioned last week and which Venezuelans widely assume will be a way to ration electricity.

Maduro on Sunday said the country would begin a program of "load administration", which Venezuelans on social media interpreted as a program of power rationing, without providing details on when it would start.

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"To achieve consistency in the provision of electricity, the Bolivarian government chose to maintain the suspension of school activities and establish a workday until 2:00 pm in public and private institutions", Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on state television.

Guaido dismissed the Maduro-stacked high court and Constituent Assembly as illegitimate and continued his calls for Maduro to step down.

Venezuelans are struggling to understand an announcement that the nation's electricity is being rationed to combat daily blackouts.

In his speech, Maduro said "colectivos" and other pro-government groups should keep order as Venezuela grapples with the blackouts, which he has blamed on USA -led sabotage without offering clear evidence.

Jose Aguilar, a Venezuelan consultant living in the United States, said the problems with the power grid run deep.

Maduro's critics and local electrical engineers consulted by Reuters said the blackouts were due to years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance of the country's electrical infrastructure.

With cooking pots, whistles and flags, dozens of residents spontaneously took to the streets in scattered protests.

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