Venezuelans struggle to understand power rationing plan

Venezuelans struggled on Monday to understand an announcement by President Nicolas Maduro that the nation's electricity is being rationed to combat daily blackouts.
Office worker Raquel Mayorca said she didn't know if her lights were off because of another power failure — or whether it was part of the government's plans.
"We are worse off now more than ever," she said, adding that the power was out on one side of the street, but working on the other. "We do not know if the light went out due to a blackout, or whether they took it away because of the rationing."
A day earlier, Maduro said that he was instituting a 30-day plan that would balance generation and transmission with consumption. He also called on Venezuelans to stay calm, but provided no further details.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Juan Guaido continued his calls for Maduro to step down and appeared to use the blackouts as political capital, saying years of neglect by the socialist government had left the grid in shambles.
"We must unite now more than ever," said Guaido at a Caracas university on Monday. "We must mount the biggest demonstration so far to reject what's happening."
As the lack of electricity became the latest sticking point in an ongoing political standoff, however, many Venezuelans simply found themselves wondering what the newly announced rationing plan would entail.
With few details, it was difficult to assess how effective the plan would be in restoring a consistent supply of power in the long term. Some electricity experts have also said there are no quick fixes to Venezuela's fragile power grid, presenting the prospect that electricity could be shaky and unreliable for the foreseeable future.
Since a massive power failure struck March 7, the nation has experienced near-daily blackouts and a breakdown in critical services such as running water and public transportation. Classes have been intermittently suspended for nearly a week, while workdays tend to end in the early afternoon so millions aren't stranded due to cuts to the Caracas metro service.
At the same time, frustrated residents are increasingly unable to find water, make phone calls or access the internet.
On Sunday, a mass of protesters took to the streets only to be threatened by contingents of alleged government supporters known as "colectivos" who appeared on motorbikes and quickly dispersed them. Videos posted on social media also showed armed paramilitary groups opening fire to drive residents inside.
Many had resigned themselves to a bleak reality.
"I haven't had water at home for 15 days," said Maria Rojas, a 57-year-old homemaker looking for a water source to fill her jugs.
"You try to find water in the street that more or less safe to drink."

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