Nationwide blackouts continued on Saturday, March 9, after power was restored to parts of Caracas and other areas around the country. According to media reports, traffic lights are functioning in some areas the capital but the metro system remains closed. Some areas have been without electricity for over 48 hours and the blackout is affecting healthcare facilities. A local NGO claims that at least 15 patients have died after their dialysis units shut off when hospitals lost power. Internet monitoring organizations also reported that 96 percent of the country is without access to mobile telecommunication networks after the most recent power outage.
Also on Saturday, supporters of President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó held rival demonstrations under a heavy security presence. Guaidó spoke to supporters from the back of a truck after security forces blocked access to the original rally site with anti-riot vehicles. At least three people were arrested while attempting to assemble a stage at the site. During his speech, Guaidó announced he will launch a nationwide tour before organizing a national march on Caracas. Maduro also gave a speech outside of the Miraflores presidential palace, blaming the US and saboteurs for attacking electrical substations on Saturday. Further demonstrations are possible in Caracas and other urban areas throughout Venezuela in the coming days.
The blackout, which started on the afternoon of March 7, affected over 20 states, causing disruptions to transportation and water distribution systems, and telecommunication services. According to officials, the most recent outage has been caused by a failure at the Guri hydroelectric dam. Power outages are common in Venezuela, including in the capital. The government often claims the outages are caused by an act of "sabotage;" however, past outages that had been blamed on attacks were later attributed to infrastructural deficiencies.
Venezuela is experiencing an ongoing crisis spurred by President Nicolás Maduro's inauguration to a second term as president on January 10 following last year's contested election, prompting the National Assembly to declare a national emergency. At least 50 foreign governments, including the US, Canada, and Brazil, among others, have since recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim head of state. Guaidó has reportedly coordinated several deliveries of humanitarian aid from neighboring states which have been blocked by the Maduro regime.
Individuals in affected areas are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to keep battery-operated devices fully charged whenever possible. In addition, individuals are advised to be cautious when driving or crossing streets if traffic signals are not functioning.
Individuals in Venezuela are advised to monitor the political situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media, and adhere to all instructions issued by their home governments.
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