Rival rallies held in Caracas as Venezuela crisis intensifies | News

Thousands of people have once again hit the streets of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, in the latest rival displays for and against President Nicolas Maduro amid a deepening political crisis.

As a major blackout continued affecting much of the country for a third day, anti-government protesters on Saturday heeded the call of the Washington-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido for renewed rallies demanding Maduro step down.

Opposition supporters on Victoria avenue, in western Caracas, pushed against the shields of riot police, who eventually withdrew but maintained a large presence in the area.

“I am tired [of this situation],” Rosa Soriano, an opposition demonstrator, told Al Jazeera. “We can’t continue like this; I lost hope before, but now I believe a change is possible.”

Conversely, red-shirted Maduro supporters turned out for a rival rally near the Miraflores presidential palace, demanding the United States stop “sabotaging” and intervening in the country’s internal affairs.

“We are continuing the battle and victory over the permanent and brutal aggression against our people,” Maduro wrote on Twitter.

“Today, more than ever, we’re anti-imperialists. We will never surrender!”

His supporters said they wanted to let the “imperialism” forces that they were ready to defend the country.

“This is a project of life and hope for Venezuelans, the message we want to send to the world is that socialism is the [only] way in the country” Anibal Figueroa 48, an employee in the ministry of education, told Al Jazeera.

Major blackout

The oil-rich nation fell in darkness on Thursday evening, with government critics blaming the blackout on decades of mismanagement and corruption but the ruling Socialist party saying it was an act of US sabotage.

On Saturday morning, power went on and off in parts of Caracas, but other parts of the country continued being without power.

Hospitals in Caracas reported major problems over the past three days, while Julio Castro, who leads an NGO called Doctors for Health, said at least 13 people died amid the blackout. His statement could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers on Friday were left stranded after flights were cancelled at the capital’s Maiquetia airport.

In Puerto Ordaz, in southern Venezuela, people said they were struggling to deal with rising temperatures amid the blackout.

“Yesterday, it was difficult to be without power,” a resident, who did not wish to be identified, told Al Jazeera on Saturday. 

“We could barely rest as the temperatures were really high; we [practically] didn’t sleep all night, in all darkness, and just waiting with anxiety for this problem to get solved,” he added.

Still, government supporters accused the anti-Maduro front of not acting fairly.

“The Venezuelan opposition does not understand democracy,” Ricardo Leon, editor of El Silbon Information Agency, told Al Jazeera.

“When they have tried it, they have emerged winners – they even won the control of the National Assembly,” he added, referring to polls in 2015.

“We need to talk and through elections call for changes; we can’t solve our problems by letting external powers intervene. We do not accept an interference of that type.”

Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate in Caracas [AFP]

The growing political crisis comes against the backdrop of major economic uncertainty, exacerbated by years of recession and hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Tensions escalated in January, when Guaido declared himself interim president and called Maduro a usurper following last year’s presidential elections, which were largely boycotted by the opposition.

The president, on the other hand, argues that Guaido is a puppet of Washington, dismissing his claim to the presidency as a plan from US-led external powers to control Venezuela’s resources. Around 50 countries, including many Western states, have thrown their weight behind Guaido.

US President Donald Trump, an opponent of Maduro, has said a “military option” is on the table. Opposition leaders in Venezuela have also said all options are considered, but a number of Latin American neighbours have opposed to the idea of a US intervention as a way of resolving the turmoil.

Meanwhile, as the crisis keeps lingering, some analysts such as Javier Buenrostro argue the opposition is losing momentum internationally.

“I believe that international leaders are recognising that they rushed with this decision, and that maybe the conditions were not set for generating the change they were aiming for,” Buenrostro, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told Al Jazeera.

“Maybe a solution for this is for both sides to compromise. The opposition might need to accept that they can’t have an ‘all-or-nothing’ situation. Both of them might need to reach to a middle point,” he added.

Additional reporting from Alicia Hernandez in Caracas 


more recommended stories

  • Indonesia’s Prabowo challenges election result in court | News

    Defeated Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

  • India elections 2019: All the latest updates | India News

    Counting of votes is under way.

  • US charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with espionage | USA News

    The US Justice Department unveiled 17.

  • What you need to know about India’s BJP | India News

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is.

  • Pentagon ‘mulls sending thousands more troops’ to Middle East | News

    The United States‘ Department of Defense.

  • US House Speaker Pelosi says Trump is engaged in a ‘cover up’ | USA News

    Democrats in the United States House.

  • Washington says attacks ‘deterred’ as US-Iran tensions rise | News

    The acting US defence secretary says.

  • New Ukrainian President Zelensky calls early parliamentary polls | Ukraine News

    Ukraine‘s new President Volodymyr Zelensky called.

  • Water supplies restored to besieged Libyan capital Tripoli | Libya News

    Water supplies to the 2.5 million.

  • Trump loses lawsuit challenging subpoena for financial records | Trump News

    A US judge on Monday ruled.

  • North African filmmakers pushing boundaries at Cannes 2019 | France News

    This year’s Cannes Film Festival is.

  • US says warship sails in South China Sea amid trade tensions | News

    The United States military has said.

  • Saudi Arabia ‘seeks to avert war, ready to respond with force’ | News

    Saudi Arabia wants to avert war.

  • Eurovision vs Globalvision: An artistic response | Palestine News

    Bethlehem and London – Palestinian, Israeli.

  • Presidential hopeful Joe Biden calls for unity in inaugural rally | Elections 2018 News

    Former Vice President Joe Biden has.

  • US warns airliners flying over Gulf of ‘misidentification’ | Iran News

    US diplomats warned commercial airliners flying.

  • Australian election: Voting under way in key contest | Australia News

    Melbourne, Australia – Australians are heading.

  • An Iranian building bridges in wall-obsessed America | US & Canada

    A towering artist of his generation,.

  • Taiwan parliament to vote on same-sex marriage legislation | Taiwan News

    Amid deep divisions, Taiwan‘s parliament has.

  • The Philippines’ Duterte: In pursuit of an imperial presidency | Asia

    Although President Rodrigo Duterte‘s name was.

  • Venezuela government, opposition in Norway for crucial talks | News

    Envoys from the Venezuelan government and.

  • Alibaba earnings hint at China’s ability to weather trade war | China News

    China‘s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group reported.

  • Iran halts some commitments under 2015 nuclear deal | News

    Iran has officially stopped some commitments.

  • PNG assesses damage from magnitude 7.5 earthquake | Papua New Guinea News

    Authorities in Papua New Guinea have dispatched.

  • Palestinian campaigners call for mass boycott of Airbnb on May 15 | News

    A Palestinian campaign has called on.

  • Spyware discovered targeting phones through WhatsApp calls | News

    Spyware crafted by an “advanced cyber.

  • Senior Palestinian official says she was refused US visa | USA News

    A senior Palestinian official has said she.

  • Sweden to reopen rape probe against WikiLeaks founder Assange | News

    Julian Assange is to be investigated.

  • Small lead for Australian opposition as election nears: poll | Australia News

    Australia‘s opposition Labor Party retains a.

  • Gunmen attack hotel in Pakistan’s Gwadar, kill five people | News

    Islamabad, Pakistan – Gunmen have stormed a.

  • India election 2019: Sixth round of voting under way for 59 seats | India elections 2019 News

    Voters in Delhi and elsewhere in.

  • Houthi rebels begin withdrawal from key ports in Yemen | Yemen News

    Yemen’s Houthi rebels have begun a.