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Offices of Venezuela's National College of Journalists robbed repeatedly

In the past twelve months, representatives of the regional offices of Aragua, Anzoátegui and Nueva Esparta of the National College of Journalists (CNP in Spanish) reported that alleged criminal elements had broken in and robbed equipment from the facilities and adjacent offices. Direct attacks on the regional offices have been recorded in the three states. The representatives alleged that the complaints have been formally filed and that there is little surveillance in the area.

On August 20, 2014, unidentified subjects forcibly entered the CNP office in Anzoátegui. The attack took place in the wee hours of the morning, while the watchman was asleep.

The yet-to-be-identified individuals entered by tampering with a window. Among the stolen objects were the monitors, keyboards and speakers of four computers in the “Pedro Manuel Vásquez” library. On previous occasions, the objects seized were hydraulic pumps, air conditioning cables and other things.

“We are in a dangerous area”, Maira Martínez, the secretary of the regional section office, said. Yet, this has not been an isolated incident. In fact, one employee told IPYS Venezuela that this is the tenth time the office has been stripped of assets so far this year, despite having requested aid from the state security corps.

In Aragua, theft is also recurrent. During the weekend of August 16 and 17, 2014, an undetermined number of criminal entered the building of the National College of Journalists in Aragua, breaking the padlock to the entry hallway towards the offices located on the top floor, as documented on the union's information blog.

It is important to remember that this is an area of scarce police vigilance, which explains the fact that on other occasions the CNP Aragua has suffered quantifiable losses in equipment and materials and high investments have been made to replace them. Previous robbery attempts and thefts have taken place since 2011 and were repeated in September 2012 and October 2013. The institution's directors have made sure that these events do not go unnoticed; after each and every robbery, complaints have been filed at the state's police headquarters.

Despite the complaints filed and a petition for support from the police force, the damages to the structure this time have forced the directors to make a new investment: the installation of a new glass door reinforced with a metal forged structure.

The latest theft so far has been in Nueva Esparta, in May. On August 22, 2014, Sonia Palacios, secretary of the CNP in that state, informed IPYS Venezuela that the office was entered into three months ago, for the sixth time this year. “The last time was the worst”, Sonia said.

This time the criminals broke the rail gate of the main door and some garden pots.

The computers were not stolen but some articles in the library such as mugs and coffeemakers were taken. In previous episodes, the headquarters were striped of water taps, light bulbs and external lamps. “It gave me the impression that they were saying 'Keep quiet'”, the secretary said, as if stating a warning.

Sonia also indicated that getting police to monitor their office is difficult despite the fact that the institution is on a main avenue, close to the Nueva Esparta stadium of the Bravos de Margarita. “We have gone to the regional and municipal police”, Palacios said, but they have received no response.

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