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Artist's home raided near Quito, Ecuador

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 13 July 2015.

On 13 July 2015, unidentified persons broke into the house of artist and caricaturist Vilma Vargas, in the town of Chambo, Chimborazo province, located approximately 215 Km from Quito. The intruders breached the house's security systems and left upside-down drawers and trampled paintings and portraits in their wake. Vargas, who is known on social media for her critical drawings of the government, claimed that this strange intrusion to her home could be a veiled message of intimidation because of her work.

Speaking to Fundamedios, the caricaturist, whose Twitter address is @Vilmavargasva, said that she had been traveling and on returning to her home found that the garage door was open and the security systems had been breached. “They took out a metal door that was built-in, they hacked at the wall, took out a window, got into the house and ransacked everything, including books, paintings, drawings, clothes, but took nothing (…) The thugs' actions inside the house made it seem like they were looking for something in every corner, because there was no drawer that had not been looked through, everything was a mess”, commented the baffled artist.

Vargas also said that the thugs would have had at least four to six hours to hack at the wall and breach all the security systems, including a very robust door and bars on her windows. She claimed that they would have had time to take everything, but did not, leading her to believe that their ultimate objective was to leave a clear message of intimidation.

The artist recalled that more than a year ago she opened an account on social media to express her personal opinions through drawings in a kind of catharsis for the situation faced by the country. She has often been critical of politics and the current government and because of this has received several insults from followers. “Even government people have let me know that my drawings cause annoyance through direct messages on Twitter. They have told me that my drawings lie and have even hinted at how I should draw, but I never answered those messages and even ignored that kind of intimidation, but now I'm worried, because this was not an intrusion that can be attributed to common criminals”.

Vargas said she is scared and sad, because she knows that this has possibly been a veiled message, even though she is convinced that she has not been committing any kind of treachery by stating a very personal opinion on what is going on in the country's politics.

After the intrusion, Vargas tried to report the event to no avail. She went to the local police on the same day that she found her home had been broken into, but the authorities said they could not respond to her call because their car was broken. Moreover, when she attempted to file a formal complaint at the town prosecutor's office, she was told that they could not receive it because the system did not recognize her home address.

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