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Guaido to ask Parliament to decree blackout emergency, confirms 17 dead

The head of the Parliament, Juan Guaido, speaks with reporters after holding a press conference at the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, 10 March 2019. EFE-EPA/ Rayner Pena

The head of the Parliament, Juan Guaido, speaks with reporters after holding a press conference at the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, 10 March 2019. EFE-EPA/ Rayner Pena

EFE

The head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled Parliament, Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as the country’s interim president by about 50 governments around the world, on Sunday announced that he will ask lawmakers to decree a “state of emergency” to deal with the “catastrophe” being experienced by the country as a result of a power blackout that now has lasted some 70 hours.

Guaido said at a press conference at the National Assembly in Caracas that the legislative body “will go into emergency session (on Monday) to evaluate a state of national emergency and take (appropriate) action.”

“We’re going to ask Parliament (to decree the emergency). We must attend to it immediately,” Guaido insisted without specifying what powers the interim government he heads would be able to accrue to itself if the decree were to be approved.

He said that the opposition was maintaining “talks” with a German company with the ability to immediately provide electrical plants and other supplies needed to stabilize the electric grid.

Most of Venezuela has been without electricity since Thursday at 5 pm, when the Guri hydroelectric facility - the country’s most important such installation, providing service to 70 percent of the national territory - went down.

The Nicolas Maduro government said at the time that the installation had been the target of a “cyberattack” launched by the United States, the country his regime habitually blames for all of Venezuela’s serious problems.

But Guaido said Sunday that the blackout was not caused by sabotage and pointed to lack of investment and poor management as the true causes of the prolonged shutdown of the electric grid.

In addition, he criticized the response of the Maduro regime to the crisis and for refusing to fully inform the public of the cause of the problem and efforts being made to resolve it.

“How is it possible that at this time there’s no report of what is happening at Guri?” Guaido said.

In addition, he reiterated his call to the armed forces to turn their backs on Maduro and stop repressing the people who are turning out to demonstrate around the country demanding an end to the country’s crisis.

“You already know that the one who was commander in chief failed, that he can’t speak for himself, that he won’t even show his face,” Guaido said, directing his words to the military.

Electrical power outages are ongoing problems in Venezuela, a country that has been suffering amid an economic, social and political crisis despite the fact that it has the largest proven petroleum reserves on the planet, along with other resources.

Guaido also confirmed Sunday that 17 people have died in hospitals around the country due to the blackout.

“There are 17 confirmed dead, 15 of them in Maturin, but because of the lack of communications we haven’t been able to monitor 17 of the 40 hospitals that are normally monitored,” the opposition leader said during his press conference at the National Assembly.

On the social networks, however, many people are reporting that there could be about 40 fatalities resulting from the blackout, many of them dialysis patients.


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