Venezuela president blames U.S. for massive power outage there

At times 70 percent of Venezuela has been without power during the past few days. (CNN Photo)

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) — Venezuela’s embattled president and his opposition rival held dueling rallies in the capital Caracas on Saturday as the country struggled with an ongoing power outage affecting 70 percent of the country.

Parts of Venezuela remained without power after 70 percent of the nation had an outage Thursday and officials warned that hospitals were at risk.

Addressing supporters Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro blamed the US for the blackout, saying the grid had been sabotaged, while the US has attributed the outage to the Maduro regime’s “incompetence.”

In a defiant speech in another part of Caracas, Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, assured followers that all options were on the table to get Maduro out of office.

Using a megaphone and standing atop a bridge — after police dismantled the stage he was supposed to use — Guaido said constitutional options to promote regime change would only work if the opposition continued to protest regularly and called on citizens to travel to Caracas to protest.

Guaido also said that Article 187 of the Venezuelan Constitution is under consideration and will be activated “at the appropriate moment.” Article 187 states that the National Assembly has the power to authorize the use of Venezuela military missions abroad or to allow foreign missions in the country.

He asked his supporters to remain strong in the face of the power outage.

“We have been reporting the electrical crisis for years, and now, we have to alert in a responsible manner that this could also become the gasoline crisis, in addition to the water crisis we already have.”

Meantime, Maduro insisted that the country’s power grid had been “hacked” and “sabotaged.” Maduro told supporters that almost 70% of power had been restored in the country Friday afternoon, but that progress was put off-track by an “international cyber-attack” carried out by the “US government” and Venezuela’s opposition.

Maduro announced changes inside Corpoelec, Venezuela’s National Electric Company. The first step, he said, was to “clean” the company to get rid of “traitors” and “infiltrators.”

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