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Opposition leader Guaido announces tour, giant rally to assert his power in Venezuela

Juan Guaido. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencia EFE Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Mar 10, 2019, 06.47 AM (IST)

The speaker of the Venezuelan legislature, Juan Guaido, recognized by some 50 countries as the acting president of Venezuela, announced this Saturday a tour of the country and a giant rally in Caracas to assert his possession of the power held since 2013 by the Chavista Nicolas Maduro.

"Let all Venezuela come to Caracas, because we need everyone united. At this time I announce my tour of all Venezuela to bring everyone to Caracas to achieve our goal," he told a gathering of followers in the southwestern part of the capital.

He promised to announce the date and time of his visits to the more than 20 federal states of Venezuela just hours before his arrival, to avoid the roads getting "jammed."

"That's when we will announce the date when we will all come together in Caracas to make use of our chance (to take power)," he said to the cries of thousands of people urging him to take over the presidential palace of Miraflores.

Earlier in the day, an anti-riot squad tried to scatter the protesters with tear gas and cordons that impeded them from reaching Victoria Avenue, scene of this Saturday's rally.

Guaido had to use a megaphone to address the thousands of people who had remained since the early hours at the area of the rally after protesters weren't allowed to install the platform from which he was to give his speech.

EFE observed that at least 200 members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) blocked access to the Francisco Fajardo Motorway, which connects the east and west of the capital, and kept the crowds from two other demonstrations from making even larger the one led by the opposition leader.

The militarized police also deployed 12 armoured cars which, however, were not used to repress the demonstration.

Guaido, meanwhile, mentioned the power outage that in some parts of the country has continued for 48 hours, and said that 16 states are still without electricity.

Some reports said that several states, where power had been reestablished after more than 30 hours without electricity, suffered another outage around 12:00 pm this Saturday.

The service had gradually been restored since Friday in the eastern and central states of Venezuela, though more than half the country has gone 48 straight hours without electricity.

"It's hard to say we're doing well when children die in our hospitals (for lack of electricity), and when our indigenous people are being massacred. We know what a crisis we're in and for that reason, we must keep fighting," he said.

He also warned that if the power outages continue, Venezuela could suffer a gasoline crisis.

Venezuela has been going through a time of severe political tension since last January, when Guaido cited certain articles of the Venezuelan Constitution to claim the authority to declare himself interim president of the nation, on grounds that Maduro had "usurped" the presidency.

The Chavista leader first took office in 2013 and was reelected last May in a controversial election that the opposition boycotted because it did not trust the honesty of Venezuela's current electoral system, with the result that the legitimacy of Maduro's second term is not recognized either by anti-Chavismo or by much of the international community. 

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'Let all Venezuela come to Caracas, because we need everyone united. At this time I announce my tour of all Venezuela to bring everyone to Caracas to achieve our goal,' Guaido said.