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Venezuela sees nationwide blackout ahead of rival rallies

Carlos Jasso, Reuters | Electrical cables are seen dangling above a street during a blackout in Catia slum in Caracas, Venezuela March 8, 2019.

Venezuela has seen its second night of widespread power cuts, ahead of a weekend of pro and anti-government protests as self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido continues his defiance of Nicolas Maduro’s government.

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The blackouts, which started on Thursday, have been caused by problems at a major hydroelectric plant. While government critics say corruption and lacklustre investments have left the power grid in a state of deterioration, Maduro says the problem is a creation of his political enemies.

"We had to go out to buy food because the stove doesn't work; we have been without electricity for more than 24 hours and we're worried about the insulin we've got in the freezer," one woman said.

Hospitals are also struggling to cope. Many are relying on generators but only have enough fuel for another day or two.

Blackouts are not uncommon in Venezuela - but this one is unusually long.

For his part, Maduro blamed the outage on US sabotage of the country's electrical grid, while his rival Guaido blamed what he called a "corrupt and incompetent regime".

Click on the video player above to watch FRANCE 24's report. 

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