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Nationwide blackouts become the norm in Venezuela

Published
Her face painted in the colors of the national flag, a supporter of opposition leader Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president, waits for his arrival in Los Teques, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido addressed the crowd while Maduro loyalists gathered for what was billed as an

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Another day, another blackout.

Power went out across Venezuela on Sunday, just as it did on Saturday, and the day before that.

But while some electricity had returned by Sunday afternoon, jittery Venezuelans weren't so much celebrating the lights coming on as wondering when the next outages would flick them off.

"No one can put up with this. We spend almost all day without electricity," said Karina Camacho, a 56-year-old housewife who was about to buy a chicken when electronic payment machines stopped working. "There's been no water since (last) Monday, you can't call by phone, we can't pay with cards or even eat."

As the latest blackout unfolded, many took to balconies and building windows to bang pots in protest and shout curses at President Nicolas Maduro, who they consider responsible for the power failures.

Others responded to a call by opposition leader Juan Guaido to demonstrate against the government, blocking roads and burning rubbish until "colectivos," or frequently armed government supporters, appeared to arrive on motorbikes. Some of the protests occurred near the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, in a direct challenge to Maduro.

The ongoing blackouts now mark another point of tension in a country paralyzed by political and economic turmoil, compounding a humanitarian crisis and deepening a prolonged standoff between two political parties vying for power.

Netblocks, a group monitoring internet censorship, said network data showed just 15 percent of Venezuela was online after the latest power cuts struck, while water supply, phone service and internet continued to be shaky and unreliable.

On Twitter, Guaido reiterated his claim Sunday that government neglect and corruption had had left the electrical grid in shambles after years of mismanagement.

"There is no sabotage," the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly wrote. "They brought the electrical system to a collapse because they are corrupt and now they can't resolve it because they are incapable."

Maduro alleges U.S.-led sabotage is the cause, citing "imperial aggression" without offering up clear evidence. On Twitter, he encouraged supporters to refer to a bulletin which explained the electrical failure as a result of an international effort to have Venezuela considered a "failed" state.

The United States and dozens of other countries support Guaido's claim that Maduro's re-election last year was illegitimate. The U.S. has imposed oil sanctions and other economic penalties on Venezuela in an attempt to force him out of power, but he has yet to show signs of backing down

The latest outage comes just weeks after Venezuela experienced nationwide blackouts on March 7 which shut down schools, offices and factories and paralyzed nearly every part of the once oil-rich country of 31 million.

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Associated Press writer Jorge Rueda contributed to this story.

Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters at a rally in Los Teques, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido took his campaign for change to one of the country's most populous states on Saturday, while supporters of the man he is trying to oust, President Nicolas Maduro, held a rival demonstration in the capital after another nationwide blackout. (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)
A supporter of Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, with a message on his torso that reads in Spanish:
Government supporters march during an anti-imperialist rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took his campaign for change to one of the country's most populous states on Saturday, while supporters of the man he is trying to oust, President Nicolas Maduro, held a rival demonstration in the capital after another nationwide blackout. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Government supporters march during an anti-imperialist rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took his campaign for change to one of the country's most populous states on Saturday, while supporters of the man he is trying to oust, President Nicolas Maduro, held a rival demonstration in the capital after another nationwide blackout. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Government supporters march during an anti-imperialist rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took his campaign for change to one of the country's most populous states on Saturday, while supporters of the man he is trying to oust, President Nicolas Maduro, held a rival demonstration in the capital after another nationwide blackout. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Her face painted in the colors of the national flag, a supporter of opposition leader Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president, waits for his arrival in Los Teques, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido addressed the crowd while Maduro loyalists gathered for what was billed as an
Her face painted in the colors of the national flag, a supporter of opposition leader Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president, waits for his arrival in Los Teques, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido addressed the crowd while Maduro loyalists gathered for what was billed as an "anti-imperialist" rally in the capital. Such dueling demonstrations have become a pattern in past weeks as Venezuela's opposing factions vie for power in a country enduring economic turmoil and a humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
A supporter of Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, with a message on his torso that reads in Spanish:
A supporter of Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, with a message on his torso that reads in Spanish: "Venezuela with Guaido," attends an opposition rally a rally in Carrizal, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido addressed the crowd while Maduro loyalists gathered for what was billed as an "anti-imperialist" rally in the capital. Such dueling demonstrations have become a pattern in past weeks as Venezuela's opposing factions vie for power in a country enduring economic turmoil and a humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters at a rally in Los Teques, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido took his campaign for change to one of the country's most populous states on Saturday, while supporters of the man he is trying to oust, President Nicolas Maduro, held a rival demonstration in the capital after another nationwide blackout. (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)
Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters at a rally in Los Teques, Miranda State, Venezuela, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Guaido took his campaign for change to one of the country's most populous states on Saturday, while supporters of the man he is trying to oust, President Nicolas Maduro, held a rival demonstration in the capital after another nationwide blackout. (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)