[News] Venezuelan Government Announces Arrests over Electrical Blackouts

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Thu Apr 25 10:26:40 EDT 2019


  Venezuelan Government Announces Arrests over Electrical Blackouts

By Paul Dobson - April 24, 2019

Merida, April 24, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/>) – Venezuelan authorities have arrested 
five people in connection with the recent electrical outages in the 
country, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez told press Tuesday.

Among those arrested is Otoniel Ramos Sanchez, ex-director of 
automatization, technology, information and telecommunications at one of 
the subsidiaries of state-run electrical corporation CORPOELEC in 
Bolivar State, where the electrical problems ofMarch 7-12 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14374> and March 25-29 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14404> originated. Ramos Sanchez had 
allegedly been suspended by CORPOELEC two years ago.

“The investigations concerning the cyber attacks in the Guri 
Hydroelectric Complex [in Bolivar State] are advancing,” Rodriguez told 
reporters. “[Sanchez] has been charged already, is currently answering 
questions and has given us a lot of information about his accomplices,” 
he went on to say.

Venezuela’s government claim that the initial national blackout of March 
7, which left some parts of the country without power for as long as 
five days, was aresult of a sophisticated cyber attack 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14374> against Guri’s automatized 
system, allegedly originating from the US cities of Houston and Chicago.

Thesecond major outage <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14404>, which 
started on March 25, was blamed by Venezuelan authorities on a sniper, 
who allegedly caused an explosion and fire in the Guri Dam’s switchyard. 
The Guri Dam currently supplies over 70 percent of Venezuela’s 
electricity. President Maduro was quick to blame “US imperialism” for 
both of the attacks.

Apart from the five arrests, Rodriguez indicated that a further fourteen 
people have been implicated in the attacks, and are currently being 
sought by authorities.

Among those named by the minister are Julio Acuña Núñez, who is believed 
to have fled to the USA, Ramon Garcia, who reportedly lives in Spain, 
and Miguel Angel Freitas, who allegedly works for a cybersecurity firm 
in Colombia. Rodriguez also drew special attention to Jesus Landoni, 
claiming he left Venezuela on April 8 en route to the US and currently 
lives in a US Air Force official’s house. Landoni was in charge of 
security at the Guri Complex at the time of the blackouts.

“There are Interpol arrest warrant requests issued for those people 
implicated in the attack, who live in the US, Colombia and Spain,” 
Rodriguez informed.

      Electrical grid close to ‘lasting equilibrium’

The repair work on the country’s electrical grid has seen workers from a 
range of other public industriesflock 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14409> to Bolivar State to provide 
assistance. Rodriguez vowed that the system is now more stable and is 
“close to a long lasting equilibrium.”

He also denounced 45 smaller attacks against electrical infrastructure 
since March 7. Since 2017, the grid has also had to deal with 280 
deliberate forest fires set close to transmission lines and attacks 
against 50 percent of the substations, he added.

Following the blackouts,electricity rationing 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14415> has been applied to many parts 
of Venezuela and the electrical grid has struggled to return service to 
the entire country. Western states such as Barinas and Zulia continue to 
suffer day-long blackouts on a regular basis, exasperating existing 
problems inpublic transport <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14380>, 
water pumping systems, rural irrigation systems, commerce, industry, and 
other areas.

Venezuela’s electric grid has suffered from years of underinvestment, 
poor maintenance and brain drain, with US-led sanctions 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14434>compounding problems by making 
it difficult to acquire repair parts and service equipment. US sanctions 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14268>have also led to fuel shortages 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14135> which reportedly stopped 
backup thermoelectric plants from being brought online. It has 
beenestimated <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14425> that the March 
blackouts cost the economy US $2.9 billion, or 3.3 percent of 
Venezuela’s GDP.

      Russia points the finger at the US

Russian authorities are assisting in the investigation of the two major 
blackouts, and indicated this week that they agree with the Venezuelan 
government’s assertion that the US government is behind the outages.

to Russia Today on Monday, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander 
Fomin claimed that “[An] operation called 'Blackout' is underway, a 
man-made shutdown of energy facilities, which also negatively affects 
the atmosphere in the country and only aggravates the existing crisis, 
mainly the economic crisis.”

“[Washington] does not sit idly and is employing other tactics including 
a broad range of techniques developed for hybrid wars and colour 
revolutions,” he went on to explain.

Fomin also blamed Washington for training violent anti-government 
elements and applying economic pressure via unilateral sanctions. In his 
judgement, however, the attacks will be unsuccessful, and will only 
“unite more people around the Venezuelan government."

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