Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday instituted a plan to ration electricity as the troubled government scrambles to repair the country’s electrical system amid worsening economic and political conditions, NPR reports.
Maduro pleaded with the public to remain calm and resist violence as what he called “specialists, scientists and hackers” work to put an end to power and water outages.
“I have approved a 30-day plan to regulate the [electricity] output,” Maduro said in a televised address, explaining it will help curb the outages that have recently thrown the country into chaos for days at a time.
The announcement came on the heels of a fourth major power outage in the month of March that left Caracas and other major Venezuelan cities paralyzed without electricity, water or communications services.
Maduro blamed the Trump administration for orchestrating a series of attacks, saying the center of the electrical system was “penetrated by a virus and hacked by the North.” Without providing evidence, he said the attacks originated in Houston and Chicago and that Friday evening’s blackout was caused by an “electromagnetic attack,” NPR adds.
Maduro’s speech came hours after scattered protests had already erupted in neighborhoods around the capital and near the presidential palace in Miraflores – a result of a call to action by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who had urged demonstrations against the “usurper regime”.
“There is no sabotage, and there is no such rationing,” Guaido said in a pair of tweets, adding that the power blackouts have been triggered by outmoded infrastructure and poor upkeep due to the government’s corruption and neglect.
He also wrote that anti-Maduro leaders had spoken with Colombia and Brazil to import electric power while the government grapples with the crisis.
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s Supreme Court has called for Guaido to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity, in a move that could soon lead to his imprisonment.
On Monday, Supreme Court Justice Maikel Moreno said Guaido should be prosecuted for violating a travel ban, after the National Assembly leader toured several Latin American countries a few weeks ago, CNBC informed.
The pro-government Constituent Assembly is expected to back the request over the coming days.