Venezuela still in dark | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 12, 2019

Venezuela still in dark

Opposition leader Guaido wants 'state of alarm' declared

  • Military reconsidering their support for Maduro: Bolton
  • Govt suspended school and business activities


Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido was set to ask lawmakers yesterday to declare a "state of alarm" over the country's devastating blackout in order to facilitate the delivery of international aid -- a chance to score points in his power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro.

At least 15 patients with advanced kidney disease were reported to have died since the massive power outage began on Thursday, as hospitals struggled to provide emergency services and the threat of spoiling food supplies put many on edge.

"We must attend to this catastrophe immediately. We cannot turn away from it," said Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the National Assembly who in January declared himself interim president, triggering a power struggle in the oil-rich South American country of 30 million.

On Sunday, he told reporters he would convene an emergency session of the opposition-controlled National Assembly to declare the "state of alarm" -- setting up another test of wills with Maduro.

Last month, Maduro used the military to block an opposition bid to bring in more than 250 tons of supplies over land from Colombia and Brazil.

On Sunday, the embattled president -- who has presided over a calamitous economic collapse that has left people in need of basic food and medicine -- vowed not to back down.

"This macabre strategy to bring us to a confrontation will fail," he wrote on Twitter.

Power was restored late Sunday in some areas of the capital Caracas, sparking enthusiastic cheers. But already twice so far, the restoration of electricity has been fleeting.

Businesses and schools remained closed yesterday.

Guaido has called for more street protests yesterday to pressure Maduro to step down.

"You have the right to go into the street, to protest, to demand, because this regime is letting Venezuelans die," he said Sunday, appealing to the armed forces "to stop covering for the dictator."

In Washington, National Security Advisor John Bolton suggested members of the military were reconsidering their support for Maduro. "There are countless conversations going on between members of the National Assembly and members of the military in Venezuela, talking about what might come, how they might move to support the opposition," Bolton said in an interview on ABC's "This Week."

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