CARACAS PLUNGED INTO DARKNESS
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday called on citizens nationwide to travel to the capital Caracas for a protest against socialist President Nicolas Maduro, as the country’s worst blackout in decades dragged on for a third day.
Addressing supporters in southwestern Caracas, Guaido – the leader of the opposition-run congress who invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January – said Maduro’s government “has no way to solve the electricity crisis that they themselves created.”
“All of Venezuela, to Caracas!” Guaido yelled while standing atop a bridge, without saying when the planned protest would be held. “The days ahead will be difficult, thanks to the regime.”
Activists had scuffled with police and troops ahead of the rally, meant to pressure Maduro amid the blackout, which the governing Socialist Party called an act of U.S.-sponsored sabotage but opposition critics derided as the result of two decades of mismanagement and corruption.
Dozens of demonstrators attempted to walk along an avenue in Caracas but were moved onto the sidewalk by police in riot gear, leading them to shout at the officers and push on their riot shields. One woman was sprayed with pepper spray, according to a local broadcaster.