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Venezuelan Journalist Luis Carlos Díaz Was Detained After Reporting On His Country's Blackout

Venezuelan journalist Luis Carlos Díaz has reportedly been detained by the local intelligence service after members of the regime accused him of being part of a US plot.

Posted on March 12, 2019, at 12:52 p.m. ET

Matias Delacroix / AFP / Getty Images

A journalist in Venezuela was reportedly detained on Tuesday on the heels of his critical reporting on the country's ongoing blackout.

For five days now, most of the country has been operating without electricity as a power outage roils a nation which is already in the midst of political, economic, and humanitarian crises. President Nicolás Maduro's government has blamed the perpetual darkness on "criminal minds" and said that the United States orchestrated an attack on the country's power grid. Outside experts believe the system's failure was due to lack of maintenance and years of corruption.

"They don't say it was an attack anymore," Luis Carlos Díaz tweeted on Monday in an example of his pushback on the regime's narrative. "Nor that there were two.

"No.

"The new figure is five (5) consecutive attacks against the electrical system, according to official spokespersons.

"It's the hyperinflation of excuses."

Ya no dicen que fue un ataque. Tampoco que hubo dos. No. La nueva cifra son cinco (5) ataques consecutivos contra el sistema eléctrico, según voceros oficiales. Es la hiperinflación de las excusas.

Soon after that tweet, his wife — fellow journalist Naky Soto — tweeted that she had not heard from Díaz and was getting concerned as he was no longer at the radio station where he had been working.

El caso es que @LuisCarlos no llegó y no me preocupé porque asumí que prefirió aprovechar la electricidad y la conexión de @Unionradionet quedándose allá, pero hace media hora me llamaron para avisarme que lo estaban buscando porque no está en la emisora #DóndeEstáLuisCarlos

The hashtag she used — #DóndeEstáLuisCarlos, or #WhereIsLuisCarlos — soon went viral in both languages.

Early Tuesday, the question was answered when on Tuesday morning, local journalists reported that he had been taken by Sebin, the country's intelligence service, and had his personal computer seized during a raid on his home. The reporter is allegedly being held in El Helicoide, a notorious prison in Caracas.

Venezuelan journalists saw this morning (3am in Caracas) Maduro's intelligence agents breaking-in the residence of Luis Carlos Díaz. Agents confirmed Luis Carlos was arrested and pointed their weapons to reporters who were trying to cover the break-in. #DondeEstaLuisCarlos https://t.co/AhRfQO6Fc0

Díaz has been in the regime's crosshairs for several days now. On Friday, he was the subject of a video published by prominent pro-Maduro politician Diosdado Cabello, accusing him of being part of a US-led plot called "Operation: Blackout."

Así fue como prepararon la derecha local y la derecha rancia gringa lo que ellos llamaron 'operación blackout", que busca colapsar al país saboteando el centro de operaciones de gerenación del Sistema Eléctrico Nacional, del que dependen la mayoría de los servicios públicos #8Mar

"Venezuelan authorities should immediately release Luis Carlos Díaz, return his confiscated equipment, and stop this absurd campaign blaming their own failures on critical journalists," Natalie Southwick, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Central and South America program coordinator, said in an emailed statement. "Without electricity, much of the Venezuelan public is already deprived of access to information from TV, radio, and the internet in the midst of an emergency. Harassing and jailing journalists will only exacerbate the crisis."



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