VENEZUELA (REUTERS) - Hours after Venezuelan opposition activists scuffled with police and troops on Saturday (March 9) morning, opposition leader Juan Guaido stood on the roof of a vehicle in Caracas and addressed supporters with a bullhorn, telling them they would organise continued, massive protests despite efforts by authorities to prevent organizers from setting up a stage earlier in the day.
"We've said it before, the regime wants to wear us out, the regime wants to wear us out, brothers and sisters. And, yes, the road has been very long, the road has worn us out, but we will never tire in the search for freedom, and we will stay in the streets," Guaido said to throngs of supporters assembled in a Caracas street.
Prior to Guaido speaking, the activists scuffled with police and troops, as electricity remained intermittent after the country's worst blackout in decades.
The OPEC nation was plunged into darkness on Thursday evening in what the governing Socialist Party called an act of US-sponsored sabotage but opposition critics derided as the result of two decades of mismanagement and corruption.
Much of the country remained without power on Saturday morning, including the presidential palace of Miraflores, which was running on back-up power generators, according to Reuters witnesses.
Venezuela, already suffering from hyperinflation and widespread shortages of basic goods, has been mired in a major political crisis since opposition leader Juan Guaido invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, calling Maduro a usurper following the 2018 election, which Maduro won but was widely considered fraudulent.
Maduro says Guaido is a puppet of Washington and dismisses his claim to the presidency as an effort by the administration of US President Donald Trump to control Venezuela's oil wealth.