Venezuelan police searching for Costa Rican diplomat kidnapped in Caracas
CARACAS, Venezuela, Wednesday April 11, 2012 – Venezuelan police launched an investigation Monday following the abduction of a Costa Rican diplomat on Sunday night.
The Costa Rican embassy’s trade attaché, Guillermo Cholele, was snatched from his diplomatic car outside his home in eastern Caracas and allegedly forced into a van.
Costa Rica “considers these events extraordinarily serious,” a foreign ministry statement released in San Jose said. Kidnappers have contacted Cholele’s relatives in Costa Rica seeking ransom, the statement added.
The statement also noted that Mr Cholele needed medication for a heart condition and high blood pressure.
Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami said an investigation was underway and being handled at the “highest level ... to achieve the release of the Cost Rican official.”
Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Roverrsi said: “For me, this kidnapping is organized crime and unfortunately Caracas is one of the most dangerous cities in the world and this is not an isolated case.”
Cholele is the third diplomat to be kidnapped in recent months in Venezuela.
In January, Mexican ambassador Carlos Pujalte and his wife were briefly kidnapped in Caracas before being released.
Last November, the Chilean consul in Caracas was abducted, beaten and shot in the leg before being released.
Just last month, Karen Berendique, the teenage daughter of a Chilean diplomat, was shot dead by police. Officers said she had failed to stop at a roadblock.
Venezuela has some of the highest rates of murder and kidnapping in Latin America, with Caracas particularly affected.
The opposition coalition, which is hoping to topple President Hugo Chavez in the October elections, has made crime and insecurity key issues in its campaign.
For its part, the government has launched a programme to clean up the police and disarm the population in response to soaring crime.
Venezuela’s murder rate – 48 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010 – is almost five times higher than the world average.