March 12 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said schools and businesses will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday because energy officials are still struggling with a blackout that has paralyzed the nation since last Thursday.
"I expect that between tonight and tomorrow we will have a more stable result," Maduro said during a televised speech, El Nacional newspaper reported Tuesday.
Maduro made the comments as the few areas in Venezuela with electricity are receiving, at best, intermittent service.
Public transportation was brought to a halt and the population is picking up water in containers from unsafe sources, as the power failure has cut off access to safe water from pumps.
National Assembly leader and self-declared interim leader Juan Guaido called for protests Tuesday afternoon to put pressure on the government to solve the energy crisis, which has affected hospitals by interrupting some vital services, such as dialysis.
"I call for Venezuelans to go and protest to their closest avenues and streets. The end of the usurpation depends on our massive and organized mobilization," Guaido said.
There have been at least five incidents of attempted looting, with at least 50 arrests reported.
Guaido said Monday that looting is a consequence of the government preventing a solution by not making a transition of power possible. The National Assembly has declared Maduro's presidency illegal and vacant, and wants him to step down.
"Without light, water, and food the despair can drive our people to a state on the edge to obtain nourishment for their own," Guaido said in an El Nacional report.
Venezuelan State Attorney Tarek William has said that Guaido's comments appear to be inciting crimes against property, adding that he would be investigated for participating in alleged sabotage.
Maduro's government has claimed that the cause of the blackout is a cyberattack launched from the United States, as well as attacks on electric substations. However, Guaido has blamed the Maduro's government's inefficiency for the blackout.
Maduro said Tuesday that his country's efforts to try to recover electricity are affected by "high frequency electromagnetic" interference that is interrupting the efforts to normalize electricity, according to an audio of his speech in Telesur, a television channel financed by Caracas.
He said he ordered flights over the country and other actions to neutralize the alleged cyber and electromagnetic attacks as of Tuesday morning.
According to a report in El Tiempo, experts in the Venezuelan electricity system said it could not have been target of a cyberattack because it is an analog system and is not digital. The power failures are more likely the consequence of poor maintenance, experts said.
Maduro said that the opposition is taking advantage of the blackout to seek a coup. Maduro has in recent years blamed the country's ills on the United States.
Venezuela is going through an economic and political crisis that has led some 3 million to flee the country in recent years. The country suffers from hyperinflation and political violence has taken the country's homicide rate soaring to the highest level in all of Latin America starting in 2018.