12th March, 2019
The Venezuela opposition leader, Juan Guaido, demanded the release of journalist Luis Diaz, whom President Nicolas Maduro’s government has reportedly accused of involvement with the country’s massive power outage.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also demanded the release of Diaz.
The five-day blackout affecting parts of Caracas and other regions has sparked water and fuel shortages.
Protest rallies have been held in several regions, while people desperate for food have also resorted to looting.
Diaz, who has Venezuelan and Spanish citizenship, and works for Union Radio News in Caracas, was held by intelligence agents on Monday, the CPJ quoted media reports as saying.
In a television show last week, Maduro’s right-hand man Diosdado Cabello showed a video clip of Diaz and accused him of “sabotage,” alleging he played a role in the power outage, according to CPJ.
“Venezuelan authorities should immediately release Diaz, return his confiscated equipment, and stop this absurd campaign blaming their own failures on critical journalists,” said CPJ Central and South America Programme Coordinator, Natalie Southwick.
“The persecution of journalists continues in Venezuela. @LuisCarlos has disappeared,” Guaido tweeted.
The opposition lead by Guaido attributes the power outage to mismanagement, while Maduro blames it on US sabotage, an allegation Washington has denied.
Two people were arrested after having been caught trying to manipulate the communications system of the large Guri hydroelectric plant, Maduro said late Monday.
The president also announced that school classes and work activities would remain suspended until Wednesday while the electricity grid was being repaired.
In another development, the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, warned on Tuesday against military action “from inside or outside’’ of Venezuela.
“The crisis that affects the country has political and institutional causes,” the EU foreign policy chief said at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.
“Its solution needs to be political, as well as peaceful and democratic. We believe no military development, from inside or outside of the country, would be acceptable,” Mogherini said.
“And a solution cannot be, and should not be, imposed from outside. We believe that an international initiative can help build a peaceful and democratic way out of this crisis.”