Venezuela’s communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, announced on Wednesday, March 13, that power has been “100 percent restored” across the country, with some areas still experiencing localized outages. President Nicolás Maduro has ordered public workers and businesses to resume operations on Thursday, March 14, after suspending services almost a week ago. Schools are also set to reopen on Friday, March 15. During his address, Rodriguez announced that the military will conduct exercises over the coming weekend focused on protecting the National Electric System (SEN) and water systems. Military units will be deployed to around 114 electric power service stations during the exercise.
Tensions remain high in the country as opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for widespread protests on Tuesday, March 12, in response to the blackouts. Looting and other instances of violence were reported in various cities across the country during the power outages. On Wednesday, retailers in the city of Maracaibo reported that more than 500 shops were looted. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday, March 11, that all remaining American diplomatic personnel have been withdrawn from the country due to the deteriorating situation.
Public demonstrations in support of Guaidó or Maduro are likely to persist over the coming days. A heightened security presence is expected in the vicinity of all such demonstrations and clashes between protesters and security forces, as well as arrests, are likely.
The nationwide blackout, which started on the afternoon of March 7, caused disruptions to transportation and water distribution systems as well as cut telecommunication services. According to officials, the most recent outage has been linked to a failure at the Guri hydroelectric dam. The government has claimed the outages were caused by an act of "sabotage" by the United States; 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 Venezuela are advised to monitor developments to the situation, adhere to instructions issued by their home governments, keep battery-operated devices fully charged whenever possible, remain vigilant for criminal behavior and avoid conspicuous displays of wealth, refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media, and avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest. In addition, individuals are advised to be cautious when driving or crossing streets if traffic signals are not functional.
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