Opposition protesters and pro-government demonstrators have been out on the streets of Caracas, as a political crisis deepens. President Maduro is facing unprecedented pressure to stand down, with the U.S. and 53 other countries backing a rival president, Juan Guaidó.
At the opposition rally, we saw a concerted attempt by protestors to pressure officers to defect and abandon their loyalty to President Maduro.
“Neither of us have a future under this government”, one woman screamed at the police.
The security forces did eventually back down, retreating from the demonstrators, before regrouping.
A few miles away, another demonstration was organized, this one by the Maduro government. Its ruling party often stages rallies at the same time as opposition gatherings, to show it still can muster support.
But the authorities are facing a serious test.
Venezuela is entering the third day of a massive power cut, the longest and most widespread in its history.
It has paralyzed much of the country. Flights have been canceled. Fuel is running out. Many hospitals are entirely without power.
The Maduro government blames the United States, alleging that has been the target of a cyber-attack.
The U.S. has said the responsibility for the power cut lies firmly with President Maduro
“The nation-wide power outage throughout Venezuela is a reminder that the country’s once, quite sophisticated infrastructure has been plundered and allowed to decay under Maduro’s misrule”, said Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy on Venezuela, in Washington.
The pressure is now on the government to get the lights back on before this crisis enters a dangerous new phase.