Venezuela to Kick Off Second Stage of Large-Scale Military Drills This Weekend

© AP Photo / Ariana CubillosSoldiers march during a military parade commemorating the 20th anniversary of the failed coup attempt by President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela
Soldiers march during a military parade commemorating the 20th anniversary of the failed coup attempt by President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela - Sputnik International
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Wednesday that the second stage of the country's military maneuvers would begin this weekend.

According to local media reports, the second stage of the large-scale military exercises includes securing the national electric power grids and water supply systems.

"This coming weekend, the military drills dubbed Ana Karina Rote are being resumed at their second stage", Rodriguez was quoted as saying as aired by state-run broadcaster on Wednesday. The first stage of the drills, dubbed Angostura, was held in mid-February.

The news comes on the heels of a blackout that has lasted for several days in the Latin American country due to reported sabotage at the major Guri hydroelectric power plant.

READ MORE: 'I Am a Soldier, Just Like You': Maduro Stresses Army's Readiness for Drills

Earlier this week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that local authorities had detained two people on suspicion of attempted wrecking of the country's power system, adding that Washington bore the most responsibility for the disruption of Venezuela's power grid.

Residents cross a street in the dark after a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, March 7, 2019. A power outage left much of Venezuela in the dark early Thursday evening in what appeared to be one of the largest blackouts yet in a country where power failures have become increasingly common. Crowds of commuters in capital city Caracas were walking home after metro service ground to a halt and traffic snarled as cars struggled to navigate intersections where stoplights were out. - Sputnik International
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The blackout hit crisis-torn Venezuela last Thursday as national electricity supplier Corpoelec reported about "sabotage" at the Guri power plant. Local media subsequently reported power outages in 21 out of 23 Venezuela's states. Maduro blamed the United States for waging an energy war against Venezuela. Washington denied having a role in the crisis.

Since January, Venezuela has been facing deep political turmoil. On 5 January, lawmaker Juan Guaido was elected the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other government branches have been refusing to recognize since 2016.

READ MORE: Juan Guaido Seeks to Sell Off Venezuela’s Oil Industry – Report

A woman takes part in a rally in support of the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela - Sputnik International
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On 23 January, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaido declared himself the country's interim president. Maduro, who was sworn in to his second presidential term on 10 January after winning the May election, which part of the opposition boycotted, called Guaido's move an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.

The United States immediately recognized Guaido, after which some 50 other countries followed suit. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in the meantime, voiced their support for the legitimate government of constitutionally elected Maduro. Mexico and Uruguay have refused to recognize Guaido, declaring themselves neutral and promoting crisis settlement via dialogue.

READ MORE: Venezuela Gives US Diplomats 72 Hours to Leave the Country

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