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1 Apr, 2019 04:25

Maduro announces 30-day power rationing as Venezuela is gripped by blackouts

Maduro announces 30-day power rationing as Venezuela is gripped by blackouts

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has approved a 30-day plan to ration power across Venezuela until its power grid is restored. Caracas blames US-backed sabotage for crippling power outages that have led to water shortages.

Maduro announced the measure on Sunday, as the Latin American country was struck by yet another wave of blackouts. By capping the energy supply, the government hopes to "balance the [power] generation process, secure the transmission process as well as service and consumption processes across the country," he said.

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Emphasis has been placed on making sure that all residents have access to fresh water, he said. Maduro said that he expects school classes, called off in the wake of a major incident at the biggest hydroelectric power plant last week, to resume either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Earlier on Sunday, the government said that in addition to having schoolchildren stay at home for few more days, it is establishing an early work day that should end by 2:00pm. The latest massive outage last Monday saw Venezuelans cramming into overcrowded buses as they took off to get home in the evening.

Blackouts have become a common occurrence in Venezuela as it grapples with a severe economic crisis exacerbated by US sanctions that keep its fraying economy in a chokehold. Power outages plagued the citizens throughout the week and were reported on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The authorities in Venezuela blame "criminals" and "terrorists" for damaging power installations, allegedly incited by the US. Protests over the lack of access to power and water resources were reported in Caracas on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Maduro called on the Venezuelan Peace Squadrons (cuadrillas de paz), popular militia organizations allied with the government, to "defend peace" in the face of calls for unrest.

With Venezuela suffering its third major power outage since the beginning of March, officials in Caracas continue to blame “saboteurs” inside and outside the country. In particular, in the wake of the initial emergency, President Maduro and other high-profile authorities pointed to the US “trace.” They cited a tweet from US Senator Marco Rubio about backup generator failure even before the local authorities were aware of the problem.

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