Maduro Vows to Respond to 'Imperial Aggression' as Mass Protests Loom Large

© REUTERS / Carlos BarriaVenezuela's President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro - Sputnik International
The political crisis in Venezuela has come to an impasse, with Nicolas Maduro refusing to budge and opposition leader Juan Guaido, backed by a string of Western and South American countries, so far failing to mobilise enough compatriots to oust the president.

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.

In this 18 February, 2015 photo, storage tanks stand in a PDVSA state-run oil company crude oil complex near El Tigre, a town located within Venezuela's Hugo Chavez oil belt, formally known as the Orinoco Belt - Sputnik International
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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.

READ MORE: Cabinet Minister Says Venezuela's Blackout May Be Caused by US Cyberattack

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.

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