CARACAS: More than 300 people were arrested for protesting and looting during an unprecedented weeklong blackout across Venezuela, an NGO for detainees critical of President Nicolas Maduro’s government said on Thursday.
Between the start of the blackout on March 7 and Thursday, “we are talking of 124 arrested for protesting” and “more than 200 other arrests for looting,” the Foro Penal NGO’s director, Alfredo Romero, told a news conference.
He said ‘anarchy’ reigned in Venezuela’s second city of Maracaibo during the power outage, with “generalised looting.”
A retailers’ association said some 500 stores in that city were pillaged during the power cut.
Power was mostly back to normal in Caracas since early this week, albeit with the frequent power dips that characterized the pre-blackout situation.
Maduro’s government asserted Wednesday that electricity had been fully restored across the whole country, but some western regions still experienced a lack of power.
The prolonged outage notably disrupted supplies of drinking water, forcing residents to wait for water trucks or scoop up effluent from sewerage pipes.
Maduro blamed the blackout on US ‘sabotage.’ But experts said steadily degraded infrastructure and a brain drain of qualified engineers was more likely.