Venezuela's Maduro announces power rationing amid blackouts

Valery Sharifulin  TASS

Valery Sharifulin TASS

Ankara has reiterated its support for the legitimate government of Venezuela under President Nicolas Maduro, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, on Monday.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro announced 30 days of electricity rationing on Sunday, after his government said it was reducing the length of the workday and keeping schools closed due to devastating blackouts plaguing the country.

In a televised address, Maduro said he had no choice but to take drastic measures while his government rebuilt key sections of Venezuela's national grid following a succession of crippling power failures since 7 March.

He did not detail how it would work but said there would be "an emphasis on guaranteeing water service".

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. Street lights and traffic lights go dark, pumps at fuel stations stand idle, and cell phone and internet service is non-existent.

"We are worse off now more than ever", she said, adding that the power was out on one side of the street, but working on the other.

But people try to find it wherever they can: from springs, leaky pipes, gutters, government-provided tankers, and the little that flows through the Guiare River in Caracas.

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"We don't buy that "chirolita" they have as president," Maradona said comparing the U.S. president Donald Trump to a famous 1970s Argentinian ventriloquist dummy.

"This is going to continue". 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.

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", Al Jazeera reported.

The Venezuelan human rights group Provea said Maduro's so-called "peace squads" were actually paramilitary gangs tasked with spreading violence and shooting protesters.

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

"Once again a nationwide blackout is affecting our quality of life", he told AFP.

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