(Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)
- Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro announced a 30-day plan to ration electricity after a series of major blackouts.
- The announcement came shortly after protesters blocked roads and burned trash on the street.
- The power outages have paralyzed the country, leaving millions without light, water, or internet access.
- A Caracas resident told Business Insider that the humanitarian crisis is taking a toll on her mental and physical health.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Sunday announced a 30-day plan to ration electricity after a series of blackouts paralyzed the nation, leaving millions without light, water, or internet access.
A power outage on Friday was the third to plunge the country into darkness in less than a month.
In response, protesters climbed on balconies, blocked roads, and burned trash to demonstrate against the government’s inability to restore the electric grid, The Associated Press reported. Government supporters known as "colectivos" showed up on motorcycles to threaten some protesters.
Maduro said on national television that services around the system would return gradually with his new rationing plan.
On Twitter, he repeated his longstanding claim that "terrorist attacks" by the United States and the opposition are damaging the power system. The socialist leader has said that his rivals launched cyber attacks on the electric grid.
"I call on the Venezuelan people to preserve peace and remain in loving resistance to definitively to combat the electricity war," he said.
But Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader trying to oust Maduro, has said corruption, neglect, and brain-drain have left the country’s once impressive electric grid in a state of disarray.
"We all know the 30-day ration system is a farce," he said about the government plan. "No one believes them. That’s why they need to go."
The continuous blackouts have brought most of the country to a standstill. Reports from the country say that food is rotting in warm refrigerators, many hospitals are struggling to keep patients alive as their backup generators fail, and spotty internet connections are making communication difficult.
"Caracas is in chaos without public services," Marcel Madera, an 18-year-old student told INSIDER. "We don’t even have subways, so everyone has to walk."
Roxanna Vitali, a 22-year-old sociology student living in Caracas, told INSIDER that the blackouts are the last straw of what is already a crippling humanitarian crisis.
Like many Venezuelans, Vitali often skips meals and avoids buying meat as shortages caused food prices to skyrocket. Her underpaid professors regularly cancel classes. She says she does not even think of buying clothes: a month’s minimum wage does not even cover a t-shirt.
"The truth is we all have a limit. Now it’s not only food, clothes or banal things. Now we don’t even have basic services," she said.
The constant anxiety has taken a toll on her physical and mental health, she said: "Worry is the master, and us Venezuelans are its slaves."
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