CARACAS – Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaido announced on Saturday an upcoming gathering of world leaders in the South American country to address what the opposition calls a humanitarian emergency in the oil-rich nation.
“We will have a great global encounter here in Venezuela of leaders to talk about the situation in Venezuela, about the humanitarian emergency, about the solution and the alternatives for change in Venezuela,” he told thousands of supporters in Caracas.
The speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly provided no details about the date of the encounter and did not name the participants, but his press team said that more information would be provided in the coming days.
The rally Guaido addressed in the capital was one of more than 350 planned demonstrations across Venezuela to denounce the leftist regime of Nicolas Maduro for a series of nationwide power blackouts, including one that lasted five days.
Guaido, recognized as interim president by the United States and more than 50 other countries, urged public employees to come to the National Assembly on Monday to activate the next phase in “Operation Freedom,” the name he gives to the effort to oust Maduro, whose May 2018 re-election the opposition and its foreign allies deem illegitimate.
“Everyone into the streets for the definitive phase of the end of the usurpation,” Guaido said.
The assembly speaker said that police used tear gas to break up an opposition protest in the western state of Zulia and briefly detained two lawmakers.
As Guaido spoke in eastern Caracas, hundreds of regime supporters marched to the presidential palace, on the other side of the capital, to listen to a speech by Maduro.
He expanded on his regime’s previous claims that the power failures plaguing Venezuela in recent months were the result of sabotage orchestrated by Washington.
“We have discovered new sources of attack, from Chile, Colombia, cyberattacks supported by the government of the United States have been carried out to damage the electrical system of Venezuela,” Maduro said.
A massive power failure on March 7 kept virtually the whole country in the dark for five days until the regime managed to regain control of the situation and restore electric service.
The regime said at the time that sabotage at the Guri hydroelectric complex, which supplies 70 percent of Venezuela’s electricity, was to blame for the blackout.
The opposition, however, blamed the Maduro regime for failures in the system, saying that the poor management of the grid was the real cause of the outage.
“They have resorted to cybernetic terrorism, they have resorted to electromagnetic terrorism against the transmission lines,” Maduro said on Saturday, exhorting countries around the world to demand an end to the US campaign against Venezuela.
“Enough of the aggressions of Donald Trump against the people of Venezuela!” he said.
The US has had sanctions in effect against Venezuela since 2015, but the punitive measures were ratcheted up after Trump became president in 2017.
On Friday, Washington imposed sanctions on 34 oil tankers involved in transporting crude from Venezuela.
China, Russia and India are among the group of countries that continue to support Maduro.