Attacks continue against news media offices in Venezuela

Two Venezuelan news outlets suffered attacks from armed men in the past three days.

In Caracas, the offices of digital news site Crónica Uno, an initiative of freedom of expression organization Espacio Público, were targeted on Aug. 22.

A man entered the offices of Espacio Público around 8 a.m. and asked for the director of the organization and a maintenance employee by name, according to the news site. He said that employees of Crónica Uno, which is located in the same building, were waiting to get into the news site's offices, according to Crónica Uno. The maintenance worker met him at the offices on a different floor, but he was with another person wearing a hood and carrying a gun.

The two forced the Espacio Público employee, along with another person who later interrupted the robbery, into a bathroom, the site reported. The unknown duo stole TV and computer equipment from the offices over the next hour, telling the building concierge that they were “moving,” the news site reported.

Two days later, in Trujillo in northwest Venezuela, the offices of Diario de los Andes were attacked on the newspapers 38th anniversary.

Two people on a motorcycle shot about 30 times at the front door of Diario de los Andes early in the morning of Aug. 24the publication reported. No one was hurt.

Photos published online by Diario de los Andes, show bullet holes in windows, walls and doors.

“We are a media outlet, we strive to do good journalism. We will wait for the outcome of the investigations,” the publication wrote.

It added that the national police are investigating.

According to Espacio Público, inmates from the local prison recently had called and said that they would send a reply to an investigation the newspaper had published about the prison.

The Press and Society Institute (IPYS for its initials in Spanish) Venezuela said it recorded at least 23 robberies of media outlets from the beginning of this year to July 31, 2016.

The Special Rapporteurs at the UN and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recently sent a letter to the Venezuelan government expressing concern about the deterioration of media freedom, specifically calling attention to a variety of events, including attacks on media outlets.

For example, the buildings of newspapers Correo del Caroní in Bolivar and El Nacional in Caracas were hit with excrement in June. That same month, a grenade was thrown at the offices of El Aragüeno in central Venezuela, but luckily did not detonate.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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