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Maduro blames the United States as power cuts grip Venezuela

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Maduro blames the United States as power cuts grip Venezuela
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Residents of the Venezuelan capital Caracas have taken to the streets to protest as power cuts gripping the country enter their third day.

Some participants in a spontaneous demonstration say it’s not directed against their president.

"It's because of the blackout,” says one. “Not because of Maduro, not because of anything else. We are here calmly peacefully because we want electricity.”

But others do include politics in their list of grievances.

"We have a complete lack of services," says another resident. "We are tired of not having electricity, we are tired of not having food, we are tired of repression, we are tired of the transport system, all these calamities".

President Nicolas Maduro told a rally of supporters that his government is doing everything possible to restore power but he blamed the worst blackouts in decades on the United States-backed opposition.

"Attacks of this type are made by the country's opposition, the extreme right-wing,” he said. “They are without any doubt the intellectual and material authors of this attack - it used high-level technology that only the United States possesses."

In the south of the capital, the opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido rallied his supporters. He outlined plans to broaden the geographical base of his movement.

"I and members of congress are going on a nationwide tour throughout Venezuela," he said. "to bring everyone to Caracas".

Meanwhile, medical NGO Doctors for Health reported that at least 17 hospital patients had died as a direct result of the power cuts.