Diplomat freed after Venezuela kidnapping ordeal

Apr 10, 2012, 11:14 PM

Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – A diplomat from the Costa Rican Embassy in Venezuela was freed by his captors after a kidnapping ordeal that lasted more than a day, and the government said it is reinforcing security for diplomats in the country.

Guillermo Cholele, the trade attache for the Costa Rican Embassy, appeared on state television Tuesday thanking authorities for their work hours after his abductors released him. He also publicly thanked his captors for “returning me alive.”

“It’s a great satisfaction to be back,” Cholele said during a televised meeting with Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami.

The justice minister said that no ransom was paid and that the diplomat was in good health after being picked up by police in a town south of Caracas. He added that “police pressure” led the abductors to free him.

A newspaper deliveryman found Cholele and took him to a police station, El Aissami told reporters. He said the authorities have identified suspects in two criminal groups and hope to start making arrests soon.

He said they also found the diplomat’s vehicle, in which he had been abducted, abandoned in Caracas.

El Aissami’s account differed somewhat from that of Miranda state police chief Eliseo Guzman, who said police were on a regular nighttime patrol when they found Cholele at about 2 a.m. Tuesday walking near a gas station in the town of Charallave south of Caracas, where his captors released him.

“He was a little disoriented,” Guzman told The Associated Press. He said the diplomat had a small cut on his head.

Guzman said in a telephone interview that Cholele told police his captors had kept him blindfolded in a vehicle as they drove around for about an hour before freeing him.

Guzman said he thinks the kidnappers probably abandoned the diplomat because they were under pressure as police searched for them.

Other diplomats have also been kidnapped in Venezuela recently.

In January, Mexican Ambassador Carlos Pujalte was abducted together with his wife. They were freed four hours later, and prosecutors said the following week that three suspects were arrested in the crime. In November, Chile’s consul in Caracas was briefly kidnapped and was released by his captors about two hours later. He was shot and wounded during the ordeal.

El Aissami said the government is committed to ensuring the security of diplomats in the country, and announced that the national police are training a force of about 600 additional officers to assist in diplomatic security.

“This situation evidently commits us to accelerating those plans even more,” El Aissami said. He said the authorities plan to meet with the diplomatic corps in the coming weeks to discuss security.

Costa Rica’s ambassador, Nazareth Avendano, said that Cholele was abducted on Sunday night as he was arriving at his home in eastern Caracas.

Cholele was taken him away in his vehicle, which has diplomatic corps license plates. The Foreign Ministry said the abductors had called the diplomat’s home after the kidnapping and demanded a ransom.

Avendano said the diplomat has been based in Venezuela for six years and lives with his wife and two children.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo said in the statement that the news of his release “brings enormous tranquility” to the family and the government.

El Aissami said Cholele and another Costa Rican official met with prosecutors who are investigating the crime. He also said, without giving details, that Cholele’s home recently was burglarized.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
21 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
22 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
22 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
28 days ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Diplomat freed after Venezuela kidnapping ordeal