Widespread power outages continue across Venezuela as of the night (local time) of Friday, March 8. While power has been restored to some areas, residents in Caracas continue to report blackouts in the city. Businesses and schools were closed on Friday in an effort to help restore electricity and it is unclear if the disruptions will continue over the coming days. Venezuela's Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino López, also announced on March 8 that additional security forces will be deployed to secure power stations and keep the peace during the blackout.
In response to the outages, opposition leader Juan Guaidó is calling for supporters to protest in Caracas on Saturday, March 9. Demonstrators will gather at 10:00 at Plaza Altamira, Distribuidor Santa Fe, and Centro Venezolano Americano (CVA) before marching to Avenida Victoria. Counter-protests by government supporters are also possible. Heightened security measures and localized traffic disruptions are expected around all demonstration. Clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
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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