Back-to-back robberies, slow state response suspicious, says Venezuelan freedom of expression NGO

For the second time in just over a week, the Caracas offices of Public Space, a Venezuelan freedom of expression NGO, were attacked. On Nov. 26, electronic equipment donated after the Nov. 16 robbery was stolen.

According to Director Carlos Correa, the attack was similar to the previous one, where the robbers forced open the doors and stole computers, monitors and other electronic equipment. This time, however, the robbers also stole surveillance equipment and videos from the first attack, according to the newspaper El Universal. The robbery was reported to the Corps of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations. "These back-to-back thefts and the state's slow response raise a lot doubts about those responsible and their motives," said Public Space in a statement on its website. "Public Space wants to reiterate its desire to continue its work promoting and defending human rights, especially freedom of expression and access to information," the NGO added.

Since July 2010, Public Space has been under investigation by the Public Ministry for receiving financial support from international sources, including the United States, designed to "promote spaces of attack against President Hugo Chávez." Correa has been the target of a government-supported smear campaign, and received death threats during a freedom of expression demonstration.