Venezuela arrests five for electric system attacks

Five people have been arrested and 19 others are being sought after attacks against the National Electric System (SEN) between March 7 and 28, Venezuela’s Communication and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Tuesday.

Speaking from the Miraflores Palace, Rodriguez presented a report on the investigation into the attacks against the electric system which caused widespread outages in March.

The official also said that an expert involved in the attacks from March 25 to 28 is living in a residence belonging to an officer of the U.S. armed forces, while three other suspects are separately being sheltered in the United States, Spain and Colombia.

He said that during the past two years, more than 50 percent of the country’s electric substations have been sabotaged.

“Between March 7 and today, there have been 45 minor attacks and the government of President Nicolas Maduro is there confronting the situation,” Rodriguez said.

The Venezuelan government has denounced the “political motivation” behind the attacks. The outages, affecting other public services such as water, gas and transportation, have significantly affected the lives of Venezuelans.

The power outage on March 7 was the worst in the country, which plunged nearly the entire country in darkness for about five days while schools and offices were temporarily shuttered.