Connect with us

topNews

Venezuela’s Guaido calls for massive protest as blackout drags on

Published

on

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday called on citizens nationwide to travel to the capital Caracas for a protest against socialist President Nicolas Maduro, as the country’s worst blackout in decades dragged on for a third day.

Addressing supporters while standing atop a bridge in Caracas, Guaido – the leader of the opposition-run congress who invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January – said Maduro’s government “has no way to solve the electricity crisis that they themselves created.”

“All of Venezuela, to Caracas!” Guaido yelled while standing atop a bridge in southwestern Caracas, without saying when the planned protest would be held. “The days ahead will be difficult, thanks to the regime.”

Activists had scuffled with police and troops ahead of the rally, meant to pressure Maduro amid the blackout, which the governing Socialist Party called an act of U.S.-sponsored sabotage but opposition critics derided as the result of two decades of mismanagement and corruption.

Dozens of demonstrators attempted to walk along an avenue in Caracas but were moved onto the sidewalk by police in riot gear, leading them to shout at the officers and push on their riot shields. One woman was sprayed with pepper spray, according to a local broadcaster.

The power flickered on and off in parts of Caracas on Saturday morning, including the presidential palace of Miraflores, according to Reuters witnesses. Six of the country’s 23 states still lacked power as of Saturday afternoon, Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello said on state television.

“We’re all upset that we’ve got no power, no phone service, no water and they want to block us,” said Rossmary Nascimiento, 45, a nutritionist at the Caracas rally. “I want a normal country.”

At a competing march organized by the Socialist Party to protest what it calls U.S. imperialism, Maduro blamed the outages on “electromagnetic and cyber attacks directed from abroad by the empire.”

“The right wing, together with the empire, has stabbed the electricity system, and we are trying to cure it soon,” he said.

Several hundred people gathered at the rally in central Caracas for a march to denounce the crippling U.S. oil sanctions aimed at cutting off the Maduro government’s funding sources.

“We’re here, we’re mobilized, because we’re not going to let the gringos take over,” said Elbadina Gomez, 76, who works for an activist group linked to the Socialist Party.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country’s rightful interim ruler, attends a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CLINICS IDLE

Julio Castro, a doctor who heads a non-government organization called Doctors For Health, tweeted that a total of 13 people had died amid the blackout, including nine deaths in emergency rooms.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the deaths or whether they could have resulted from the blackout. The Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Clinics in the sweltering western state of Zulia, which suffers chronic regional blackouts, had scaled back operations after nearly 72 hours without power.

“We’re not offering services and we don’t have any patients staying here because the generator is not working,” said Chiquinquira Caldera, head of administration at the San Lucas clinic in the city of Maracaibo, as she played a game of Chinese checkers with doctors who were waiting for power to return.

Venezuela, already suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods, has been mired in a major political crisis since Guaido assumed the interim presidency in January, calling Maduro a usurper following the 2018 election, which Maduro won but was widely considered fraudulent.

Maduro says Guaido is a puppet of Washington and dismisses his claim to the presidency as an effort by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to control Venezuela’s oil wealth.

Former mayor and exiled opposition activist Antonio Ledezma on Saturday called on Guaido to seek United Nations intervention in Venezuela by invoking a principle known as “responsibility to protect.”

The U.N. doctrine sometimes referred to as R2P was created to prevent mass killings such as those of Rwanda and Bosnia and places the onus on the international community to protect populations from crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

“President @jguaido, (you should) formally request Humanitarian Intervention, applying the concept of R2P, to stop extermination, genocide and destruction of what’s left of our country,” Ledezma wrote via Twitter.

At the opposition rally, Guaido said he would not invoke an article of the Venezuelan constitution allowing the congress to authorize foreign military operations within Venezuela “until we have to.”

Slideshow (32 Images)

“Article 187 when the time comes,” Guaido said. “We need to be in the streets, mobilized. It depends on us, not on anybody else.”

Trump has said that a “military option” is on the table with regard to Venezuela, but Latin American neighbors have emphatically opposed a U.S. intervention as a way of addressing the situation.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Mayela Armas and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas, Isaac Urrutia in Maracaibo, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

topNews

Thousands attend NZ vigil, rally to fight racism, remember Christchurch victims

Published

on

By

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – Thousands gathered in New Zealand’s cities on Sunday to protest racism and remember the 50 Muslims killed by a gunman in Christchurch and as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a national remembrance service to be held later this week.

People attend a vigil for victims of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

About 15,000 turned out for an evening vigil in Christchurch in a park near the Al Noor mosque, where a suspected white supremacist killed more than 40 of the victims. Several more people were killed at the nearby Linwood mosque.

Many non-Muslim women wore headscarves at the vigil, some made by members of Christchurch’s Muslim community, to show their support for those of Islamic faith as they had at similar events last week.

Ardern said on Sunday that a national remembrance service would be held on March 29 to honor the victims, most of whom were migrants or refugees.

“The service will be a chance to once again show that New Zealanders are compassionate, inclusive and diverse, and that we will protect those values,” Ardern said in a statement.

The prime minister has been praised for her leadership following the attack. She swiftly moved to denounce the incident as terrorism, toughen gun laws and express national solidarity with the victims and their families.

The vigil started with an Islamic prayer, followed by a reading of the names of the victims, which included students from the nearby Cashmere High School.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can,” Okirano Tilaia, one of the school’s pupils, told the crowd. “Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can.”

Earlier in the day more than 1,000 people marched in a rally against racism in central Auckland, carrying “Migrant lives matters” and “Refugees welcome here,” placards.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s 4.8-million population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

As New Zealand continued to mourn and ask questions about how such an attack could have happened in the peaceful Pacific nation, the victims’ families spoke about their losses.

Shahadat Hossain, whose brother Mojammel Haque was killed in the attack, arrived in New Zealand on Saturday to bring his brother’s body back to Bangladesh.

“I can’t describe how I felt when I saw my brother’s lifeless body,” he told Reuters. “I was devastated.”

Farid Ahmed, who was at the Al Noor mosque when the shooting took place, escaped but his wife, Husna, was killed. On Sunday, he went door-to-door, thanking his neighbors for their support.

    “They came running… they were crying, they were in tears,” he said of his neighbors when they found out that Husna had died.

“That was a wonderful support and expression of love, and I am feeling that I should also take the opportunity to say to them that I also love them.”

Reporting by Jill Gralow Natasha Howitt, Charlotte Greenfield in Christchurch, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, James Redmayne and Tom Westbrook in Sydney; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Sam Holmes

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue Reading

topNews

Almost 400 people winched from stricken cruise liner off Norway

Published

on

By

OSLO (Reuters) – Rescue services had airlifted 397 people to safety from a luxury cruise liner with engine trouble off the coast of Norway by Sunday morning and were preparing to tow the vessel to a nearby port.

The Viking Sky, with 1,373 passengers and crew on board, sent out a mayday signal on Saturday as it drifted towards land in the Norwegian Sea.

The ship was carrying 915 passengers, of whom “a large number” were from the United States and Britain, according to the rescue services.

Some 17 injured passengers had been taken to hospital, a local rescue coordinator told a news conference early on Sunday, while others suffered minor cuts and bruises.

One was taken to St. Olav’s Hospital in the town of Trondheim, which is central Norway’s most advanced medical facility. Others were taken to local hospitals in the region.

“Many have also been traumatized by the experience and need care when they arrive on shore,” the Norwegian Red Cross said in a statement.

The airlift had gone on through the night. The ship has been able to restart three of its four engines on Sunday morning but still needed assistance.

“The evacuation continues at the request of the vessel … they need tugboats to get to port,” rescue service spokesman Per Fjeld said, adding that the plan was to bring the Viking Sky to the town of Molde.

Rescue services have begun to attach lines to the ship from tugboats to begin towing it towards the port.

BROKEN WINDOWS

Stormy weather conditions had improved in the early hours of Sunday, with winds blowing at 14 meters per second, down from 24 meters per second previously, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The wind speeds are expected to fall further during Sunday.

Images and film posted by passengers on social media showed furniture sliding around as the vessel drifted in waves of up to eight meters (26 feet), and passengers earlier described the ordeal.

Slideshow (3 Images)

“We were having lunch when it began to shake. Window panes were broken and water came in. It was just chaos. The trip on the helicopter, I would rather forget. It was not fun,” American passenger John Curry told public broadcaster NRK on Saturday.

The stretch of water known as Hustadvika and surrounding areas are known for fierce weather and shallow waters dotted with reefs.

Viking Cruises, which owns the ship, on Saturday said the safety of passengers was its top priority. The company was not immediately available for further comment on Sunday.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Jane Merriman/Keith Weir

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue Reading

topNews

Rescue services prepare to tow stricken cruise ship off Norway to port

Published

on

By

OSLO (Reuters) – Evacuation from a luxury cruise liner with engine trouble off the coast of Norway continued for a second day on Sunday, with 397 people airlifted off the vessel, while rescue services prepared to tow the ship to a nearby port, rescue workers said.

The Viking Sky, with 1,373 passengers and crew on board, sent out a mayday signal on Saturday as it drifted towards land in the Norwegian Sea.

“The evacuation continues at the request of the vessel … they need tugboats to get to port,” rescue service spokesman Per Fjeld said, adding that the plan was to bring the Viking Sky to the town of Molde.

Rescue services have begun to attach lines to the ship from tugboats to begin towing it towards the port.

The ship has been able to restart three of its four engines but was still requesting assistance.

Stormy weather conditions had improved in the early hours of Sunday, with winds blowing at 14 meters per second, down from 24 meters per second previously, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The wind speeds are expected to fall further during Sunday.

The stretch of water known as Hustadvika and surrounding areas are known for fierce weather and shallow waters dotted with reefs.

Viking Cruises, which owns the ship, on Saturday said the safety of passengers was its top priority. The company was not immediately available for further comment on Sunday.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: