Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro introduces month-long electricity rationing



Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday announced a 30-day plan to ration electricity following nationwide power cuts that have inflicted misery on millions of people and ignited protests, including one near the presidential palace in Caracas.

"We have small children and we aren't able to give them a drop of water to drink", said Caracas resident Maria Rodriguez.

"We're confronting monsters who want to destroy Venezuela", Maduro said, blaming the electricity crisis on "sabotage" the United States and the opposition.

The opposition party claimed that the government put little investment into Venezuela's national grid and continuously failed to fix it. Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said that while the network is being repaired, employees in the private and public sectors would end work at 2 p.m. EST Monday and students would get another day off from school.

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A day earlier, Maduro said that he was instituting a 30-day plan that would balance generation and transmission with consumption.

"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 opposition, led by Guaido, has attributed the power outages to a lack of investment in the national grid, poor upkeep and a failure to tackle repairs.

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Footage also circulated on social media that appeared to show paramilitaries and police special forces searching a housing estate for protesters in Barquisimeto, Venezuela's fourth largest city.

They also sparked protests, reinforced by calls to people to take to the streets by National Assembly president and opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"To achieve consistency in the provision of electricity, the Bolivarian government made a decision 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.

Venezuelans are struggling to understand an announcement that the nation's electricity is being rationed to combat daily blackouts. Maduro, for his part, has blamed the first major blackout that sank Venezuela into darkness for days on the USA, calling it a sabotage attempt seeking to topple him from power.

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

Demonstrations by Venezuelans angry about the blackouts broke out Sunday in Caracas. Many took to balconies and building windows to bang pots in protest and shout curses at Maduro.

Maduro has given the "colectivos" a green light to contain protests that he describes as violent mobs aiming to oust him from power.

At the same time, frustrated residents are increasingly unable to find water, make phone calls or access the internet.

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