Juan Guaido Calls for Blackout Emergency Decree, Confirms 17 Dead
Juan Guaido Calls for Blackout Emergency Decree, Confirms 17 Dead. (Photo Credits: IANS)

Caracas, March 11: The head of Venezuela's opposition-controlled Parliament, Juan Guaido, who has been recognised as the country's interim president by about 50 governments around the world, has 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 on Sunday 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, reports Efe.

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 stabilise the electric grid.

Most of Venezuela has been without electricity since Thursday at 5 p.m., when the Guri hydroelectric facility -- the country's most important such installation, providing service to 70 per cent 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 on Sunday said 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 criticised 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. Venezuela Crisis: Opposition Leader Juan Guaido Lands in Caracas, Faces Arrest.

Guaido also confirmed 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.

Meanwhile, The New York Times on Sunday reported that the fire that destroyed humanitarian supplies in an aid convoy heading for Venezuela most likely was caused when an opposition member mishandled a Molotov cocktail, thus discounting the prevailing narrative that the Maduro regime had caused the blaze.

The daily, which examined video images along with other material to reconstruct the February 23 incident, said that a thrown Molotov cocktail was the most likely cause for the fire that destroyed some 40 tons of aid -- ostensibly a shipment of medicine -- on board several trucks.