Venezuelan blackout victims 'murdered' by government, opposition leader says

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A man sells yuca as residents shop for food, mainly non-perishable to store, following a nationwide blackout, in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2019.

Angry residents of the Caracas neighbourhood of Chacao yesterday set up barricades along streets to protest about the continued outage.

Ms Francisca Rojas, a 62-year-old retiree living in Caracas, said: "I've spent three nights in a lot of distress".

Food is scarce and no power means no refrigeration.

Lines extended for blocks at fuel stations as drivers queued up for gasoline and busses waited fill up with diesel.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido said he will ask lawmakers on Monday to declare a "state of alarm" over the country's devastating blackout in order to facilitate the delivery of global aid.

Much of Venezuela, including parts of the capital Caracas, remained without power on Monday for a fifth day, crimping vital oil exports and leaving people struggling to obtain water and food. He also posted a video that showed him with a two-way radio, purportedly talking to military commanders and governors. "This macabre strategy to bring us to a confrontation will fail", he wrote on Twitter.

Venezuela suspended school and business activities on March 11 amid a continuing blackout, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a televised broadcast, the second such cancellation since power went out last week.

He said the military should accept an amnesty offer from Mr. Guaido as well as the opportunity for relief from USA sanctions. They say government corruption and mismanagement caused the decay of Venezuela's infrastructure over many years. US officials have dismissed the allegation as absurd.

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The National Assembly, controlled by the opposition, should declare a national emergency in a special meeting on Monday, Guaido demanded on Sunday.

A neighboring shop selling home goods such as plastic chairs was also looted.

The country's Health Minister Carlos Alvarado on Sunday denied the deaths, saying the government quickly responded with a contingency plan. More than 1.2 million Venezuelans have already fled seeking refugee in nearby countries.

In spite of USA pressure, India has refused to stop dealing with Maduro's government, noting that a sovereign country can not be ordered to recognize Guaido as legitimate leader.

Referring to Cuba, the US envoy described it as "a parasite that has been feeding off Venezuela for decades" by taking its oil while offering intelligence and other protections for Maduro.

At a competing march organized by the Socialist Party to protest what it calls US imperialism, Maduro blamed the outages on "electromagnetic and cyber attacks directed from overseas by the empire".

Asked whether India had agreed to stop buying oil from Maduro's government, Abrams said: "I don't want to characterize the discussions, which continue". He said those that were open only accepted cash, but he didn't have enough because the bank only allows small withdrawals and debit card payments aren't possible because of the outage.

Get the Monitor Stories you care about delivered to your inbox. "Everything dark. Only some areas are operating with a generator", said Sol Dos Santos, a 22-year-old whose daughter is hospitalized.

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