Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has called for widespread protests on Tuesday, March 12, as a nationwide blackout persists. In an address to the National Assembly, Guaidó declared a "state of alarm" after, according to the opposition, disruptions related to the power cuts resulted in the deaths of at least 12 people. It is unclear how many deaths have occurred as a result of power outages at hospitals and other care facilities. Nationwide demonstrations are set to begin at 15:00 (local time) on Tuesday, while President Nicolás Maduro has also announced the closure of schools and businesses.
Water service in Caracas was significantly disrupted on Monday, March 11, after officials disabled the city's water plants amid a lack of power to keep them operational. Reports depicted residents in San Augustín and other areas of the capital collecting water from broken pipes and the Guaire river. Approximately 75 percent of the country remained without access to the internet as of Monday evening and, while power has been restored to some areas of Caracas, much of the country remains without access to electricity. Meanwhile, violent protests and looting was reported in several cities, including in Baruta (Caracas), Barcelona (Anzoátegui state), Barquisimeto (Lara state), and Maracaibo (Zulia state), on Monday afternoon, and reports of shootings and other instances of violence are widespread. Additionally, an airline crew for Air Europa was caught in a shootout while traveling to their hotel in Caracas and on Saturday, March 9; none of the crew members were injured. The airline subsequently ordered its personnel to not spend the night in Venezuela.
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, has 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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