CARACAS—The Venezuelan regime said Juan Guaido, the country’s head of congress and recognized by U.S. and others as the legitimate president, would be barred from public office for 15 years on March 28.
Guaido has called for fresh protests on March 30 against regime leader Nicolas Maduro, following a blackout this week that left the country without power for days.
Cities across Venezuela recovered electricity on March 28 after the blackout, the second major one in less than a month.
Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has challenged Maduro and his socialist party for power. He invoked the country’s constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, arguing Maduro’s May 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Most South American and Western nations have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
In February, Venezuela’s state comptroller, Elvis Amoroso, launched an audit of Guaido for allegedly lying on his personal financial disclosures and receiving funds from unauthorized sources.
In a March 28 state television address, Amoroso said Guaido had not explained the source of funds he used to pay for foreign trips he took since joining the assembly.
Amoroso said his office had decided to bar Guaido from public office for up to 15 years, the maximum for public servants who commit irregularities.
At a rally, Guaido questioned the validity of Amoroso’s role.
“The only body that can appoint a comptroller is the legitimate parliament,” he said.
To deal with the power outages, Maduro has announced a plan of “load management” for the coming days, without providing details. Generally, load management refers to the process of balancing the supply of electricity on a network with the electrical load.
After blaming a “cyberattack” by the United States for the first outage, Maduro said this week’s blackout was caused by a gunman linked to the “perverse, diabolical right-wing” who fired on the Guri hydroelectric facility that provides electricity to most of the country.
But local electricity experts, as well as government critics allied with Guaido, said the outages were due to years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance as Venezuela’s economy spiraled into a hyperinflationary collapse.
By Vivian Sequera & Luc Cohen