Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has acknowledged that there can only be a change of government with the support of the armed forces – however, military chiefs have so far remained loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, BBC writes.
Guaido declared himself interim leader in January and says he is supported by “almost 90%” of Venezuelans, and he also has backing from the United States.
On Sunday Venezuelan authorities said they would shorten the working day and keep schools closed due to power cuts. Offices would stop working at 14:00 local time “to achieve consistency in the provision of electricity,” Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on state TV.
Guaido told the BBC that the frequent power cuts and water shortages – which have hit hospitals, public transport, water and other services – were driving intense public anger against Maduro’s government.
“We have a situation now with protests in more than 20 districts of the capital, Caracas, and in all Venezuelan states. People are demanding that power and water supplies be restored, but also for the usurper, Nicolas Maduro, to go, which is the main message,” he said.
The government has claimed the blackouts are the result of sabotage in an effort to force Maduro from office. However, Guaido said Maduro could not be removed unless Venezuela’s military abandoned him, BBC added.
“The support and the backing of the armed forces will be necessary in order to achieve democratic and peaceful change in Venezuela in all areas, including to protect protesters from the pro-government armed militias,” he said.
Guaido – who the government says will be barred from holding further public office for 15 years – dismissed the recent reported arrival of Russian troops in Venezuela as a “provocation” by Maduro to “try to show some sort of support that he really doesn’t have.”
Meanwhile, electricity slowly returned in most areas of Caracas on Saturday after Venezuela struggled through the third major blackout of March, CNN reported.
Power went out around 7 p.m. Friday. Sirens, car horns and alarms echoed throughout the dark streets before generators began kicking in.
The situation is much worse in the barrios and poorer areas of the capital, and especially outside Caracas, with many struggling with intermittent service since the first major blackout. Blackouts have become a daily occurrence across Venezuela as the economic crisis has worsened.