Colombia: Seven abducted near border with Venezuela


Seven people, including Venezuelans, have been abducted by alleged FARC insurgents in northeastern Colombia, near the two countries’ borders, authorities said Monday.

They are residents of El Tara, a community in the northern province of Santander.

“Some are doing business, others are Venezuelans working in the fields, they are well-known people,” the mayor, Jair Zeus, told a local radio station, without specifying when or where they were abducted.

Police Chief Carlos Martinez, chief of police in the area, added that “Lenin Quintero Mogiano, also known as Pedro, is one of the commanders of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a former rebel organization disbanded after the peacekeepers in 2016) are believed to be responsible for the abduction. “

A video uploaded to social networking sites that is considered evidence that the abductees are still alive by the local authorities depicts the hostages in a forest while two armed men in uniform are guarding them.

A second sequence of the same video shows “Commander Pedro” warning Venezuelan migrants crossing the border and settling in Colombia.

“Welcome to all those who want to work and do the right thing, but we know that there are people in the area who sell drugs, there are drug addicts, thieves, rapists, extortionists,” warns the rebel commander, who wears a former FARC emblem. “Help us locate them to prosecute them or to correct them,” he added.

According to the mayor of El Tara, a “humanitarian committee” was formed, consisting of representatives of the local authorities and the Catholic Church, to negotiate the release of the hostages.

Northern Santander, which borders Venezuela, especially the Catatumbo region, is now one of Colombia’s worst-hit areas.

In the area where coca production is booming, several armed organizations are competing with each other: FARC insurgents, ELN (National Liberation Army guerrillas, extremists), far-right paramilitaries, and drug-trafficking gangs.

In early October, a teenager and a child from Venezuela were executed by unknown individuals after being accused of stealing from a store in the neighboring Thimphu community.

Colombia is currently home to some two million Venezuelans who have fled their homeland due to the deep economic and political crisis.


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