Yesterday afternoon, agents with the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (National Bolivarian Intelligence Service, SEBIN) arrested a journalist named Luis Carlos Diaz while he was heading home from his place of work.
Diaz was held incommunicado for approximately eight hours. Then, during the overnight hours, he was brought to his home in handcuffs by SEBIN agents, who proceeded to search the home. At the conclusion of the search, they took Carlos with them.
Diaz is married to Naky Soto, another Venezuelan journalist. She published this video explaining what had just happened:
Soto: It’s 4:17 AM on March 12. The SEBIN raid on my house, which was conducted with Luis Carlos present, is over. They brought him here in handcuffs. I’m joined by Rafael Uzcategui from PROVEA and Marco Ruiz from the National Syndicate of Press Workers [SNTP]. I’m asking you to join me this morning at 11:00 AM at the Public Ministry to demand the full release of Luis Carlos Diaz Vazquez, lawyer and human rights activist. I’ll see you there at 11:00 AM.
Shortly after Diaz’ arrest, social media users including prominent journalists like Luz Mely Reyes began to report that he had been detained in connection to the ongoing blackout, and that the Maduro regime was implicating him in causing the outage.
Diaz’s arrest comes at the same time that a team from the United Nations Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is in the country to assess the situation in Venezuela. OHCHR head Michelle Bachelte tweeted a message of concern about the detention:
I am deeply worried about the alleged detention of the reputable journalist [Luis Carlos Diaz] by Venezuelan intelligence services, and for his well-being. The technical mission from the [OHCHR] in Caracas has asked the authorities for urgent access to Diaz.
At a demonstration outside of the Public Ministry, Soto said that it was “unbelievable” that this was happening to her husband, and claimed that Diaz had been beaten and threatened by the SEBIN:
They hit him with his helmet and told him that they’d bring a corpse to the house to accuse him of murder.
Manipulated Video Possible “Evidence” in Carlos’ Detention
This past Friday, the Con El Mazo Dando Twitter account released a video of Diaz speaking during an interview and called him a “fascist influencer”.
In the edited video, Diaz talks about a “blackout” (using the word in English). Below, the video along with my translation:
Tweet: This is how the local right-wing and the rancid gringa right-wing planned what they called “operation blackout”, which is trying to collapse the country by sabotaging the operational centre of the National Electrical System, on which a majority of public social services depend #8Mar
Diaz: How is this blackout carried out? What’s the estimate for how long we’ll be left without communication? What should we do? How should we remain informed during this moment? [Cuts off] What happens during a blackout? The first lesson from the Arab Spring is that once they’re applied from [the government], it’s too late. When they’re applied, people are on another level now. The second is that immediate effect is that people take to the streets. That always happens. What should you do, in case you don’t have anything? Go outside, and record. That’s the moment when your memory should be clear, because you’re going to have to take videos, take pictures, interview people and see what’s happening until light returns [repeated several times].
From the context of Diaz’ words, it is clear that he is referencing the internet censorship that governments deployed during the Arab spring.
Twitter user @felixfarias01 shared a more complete version of the interview, which confirms this fact.
Diaz: … which says that once this [the government] is close to collapsing, these people will probably deploy a total blackout informativo [literally “informational blackout”, as in mass internet disruptions]. In other words, they’ll flip the internet switch and bring down [online] media.How is this blackout carried out? What’s the estimate for how long we’ll be left without communication? What should we do?…
The video used by El Mazo Dando–which is a weekly television show hosted by PSUV VP Diosdado Cabello–omits Diaz’s mention of the term “information blackout”, and instead claims that he was talking about an electrical blackout.
AG Confirms Guaido Under Investigation Over Blackout
Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced today that he had ordered the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) to launch an investigation into interim president Juan Guaido after alleging that he had somehow participated in causing the blackout.
We’ve launched a new investigation that is added to the one that we began on January 29 against the citizen named Juan Guaido over his alleged participation in the attack against the electrical service.
Without giving any names, Saab also suggested that Guaido and others were in the government’s sights for allegedly “inciting” the looting and other violence that has resulted from the days-long blackout.
In speech, Maduro Provides More Details on Blackout
During a speech that aired last night, a visibly shaken Maduro provided new details on the ongoing blackout.
Maduro–who is usually relatively calm and collected during his speeches–fidgeted at the podium and spoke at an uncharacteristically fast pace, suggesting a heightened level of stress.
Below, Maduro’s address with a translation of the section where he lays out his version of the blackout (starting at approximately 7:30):
Maduro: Venezuela is probably the first country in the world to suffer from a U.S. attack on its electrical system using cybernetic technology. We’re now in an advanced phase, freeing the brain [sic], restoring the whole map of the brain [sic]. The time will come when we will show this to you.
Compatriots, the second method of attack was electromagnetic. Mobile machines that emit electromagnetic signals, and on the transmission lines–those big cables you see from the highway, with giant towers–they put them there on the towers, the big cables. The emit elevated electromagnetic frequencies and this knocks the transmission offline. And when you knock the transmission offline–when the electric highway of the country is undergoing the normalization process–they interrupt and reverse the recovery process.
This is what they’ve done (…) The third method of attack was physical, as I call it. Burning. Exploding different systems. The direct burning of substations. Burning stations.
Maduro’s claims run contrary to the assessment of electrical engineers and other experts, including the head of the nation’s electrical workers’ union, Ali Briceño, who has said that the blackout occurred due to a fire at a poorly-maintained site.
Desperate Residents Collect Water from Contaminated River
Yesterday, a group of desperate Caracas residents decided to collect water from a sewage pipe that feeds into the Guaire, a highly contaminated waterway that runs through Caracas.
The scene was captured by journalists and passers-by:
At some point, the National Guard arrived on the scene to stop people from getting the water. A woman recorded the reaction of some of the individuals at the scene:
Man in blue and white: [unintelligible] to get food for our children, but they won’t let us because they don’t feel like it? This country is shit. Maduro should go to hell.
Woman recording: Why did they kick you out?
Man in blue shirt: Because they [pointing to the soldiers] don’t want us getting water from here because it makes them [the government] look bad. They look bad because we’re getting water from here. It’s like they don’t have children of their own.
Man in black hat: How are you helping? (I think he’s talking to the soldiers)
Woman recording: Were you able to get some water?
Man in black hat: [Sounds like he’s saying, “Yeah, this is all I could get since yesterday”]
Man in blue shirt: You have to burn money here to [unintelligible]
Woman recording: Were you able to get water?
Young Man in yellow shirt: [unintelligible]
UPDATE: TeleSur is claiming that the water that the people were collecting is actually from a “spring” that runs down from the Avila river.
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