Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has pledged to respond to acts of "imperial aggression" as the county braces for pro and anti-government protests scheduled on the same day.
"The US empire, once again, underestimates the conscience and determination of the Venezuelan people. I assure you that every attempt [to express] imperial aggression will be met with a forceful response from the patriots that we love and defend, with courage, our Homeland," Maduro said on Saturday.
Although the embattled Venezuelan leader did not specify any names, his comments were apparently referring to the United States, which endorsed his political arch-foe Juan Guaido.
Maduro called for mass "anti-imperialist" demonstrations on 9 March, timed on the fourth anniversary of former US President Obama's executive order, which declared Venezuela a national security threat, paving the way for the slapping of sanctions on the South American country.
Incidentally, Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president on 23 January and called on Maduro to step down, also urged his supporters to take to the streets on 9 March to protest against the "usurpation" of power by Nicolas Maduro.
On Thursday evening, Venezuela was hit by a massive power outage, which Guaido said resulted from the "corruption" of Maduro's government. The authorities, on the other side, said the power cuts were caused by "sabotage" of country's biggest hydroelectric power plant.
Following the blackout, Maduro claimed that "US imperialists" were waging an "electric energy war" against Venezuela.
Maduro has been accused by the opposition and home and critics abroad of trampling on human rights and electoral rigging. The United States has imposed sanctions on his allies and Venezuela's state-owned oil giant, PDVSA, urging South American countries to ratchet up pressure on Maduro.
Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico, Bolivia and a number of other countries have reaffirmed their support for Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president.