CARACAS, Venezuela – The Latest on Venezuela's political crisis (all times local):
Venezuela's government says electricity has been restored in most of the country following nationwide blackouts this week.
Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez on Thursday gave an upbeat assessment of efforts to restore Venezuela's fragile grid, though some areas remained without power.
Schools and public offices were still closed, but there was more traffic in the streets of Caracas and many people were able to make electronic payments for the first time in days.
Venezuela is suffering from hyperinflation and cash is scarce, so most people use debit cards to make even small purchases.
The latest blackouts started on Monday, inflicting more hardship on Venezuelans who were only starting to recover from outages earlier this month.
The Venezuelan government on Thursday said it has barred opposition leader Juan Guaido from holding public office for 15 years, though the National Assembly leader responded soon afterward that he would continue his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
The announcement by state comptroller Elvis Amoroso, a close ally of Maduro, cited alleged irregularities in the financial records of Guaido and reflected a tightening of government pressure on an opposition movement backed by the United States and dozens of other countries.
"We're going to continue in the streets," Guaido said soon after Amoroso's statements on state television.
The power struggle between Maduro and Guaido has intensified the sense of crisis in Venezuela, which suffered its worst blackouts earlier this month and then another round of power outages that paralyzed commerce this week.