Venezuela’s Guaido pledges more protests over power, water shortages

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Monday called on supporters to continue taking to the streets to protest power and water shortages, as the government of President Nicolas Maduro appeared prepared to begin a rationing program.

Scattered protests continued throughout several working-class neighborhoods of the capital Caracas on Monday, with small groups of people blocking roads demanding water be returned after a week of intermittent blackouts that have left many areas without electricity.

That followed demonstrations around Caracas on Sunday night when police fired gunshots after residents set up burning barricades, according to Reuters witnesses. The oil-rich South American country has been hit by two waves of crippling blackouts since March 7.

“Every time the power goes out, or we do not have water, or we do not have gas, guess what we are going to do?” Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, said at a rally at the country’s Catholic University. “We are going to protest, we are going to make demands, we are going to take to the streets of Venezuela, because it is our right.”

Power outages over the weekend prompted Venezuela’s main oil terminal, Jose, to halt operations including crude exports, the lifeblood of its economy. It was the third time in a month that the port, which only restarted applications last Friday following last Monday’s blackout, had stopped operations due to lack of electricity.

Guaido invoked the country’s constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. He has been recognized by most Western and South American countries as the OPEC nation’s rightful leader.

Maduro, who calls Guaido a puppet of the United States, has said that he should “face justice,” but has not openly called for Guaido’s arrest.

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