Thursday, May 23, 2013

Colombia: Update--Kidnapping of Spanish Tourists Involve Significant Ransom Demand

As a follow-up to my posting of May 22, concerning the kidnapping of two Spanish tourist in the Department of La Guajira (close to the Venezuelan-Colombian border), police now report that the abductors have demanded a “significant sum in euros.” 

Angel Sánchez Fernández, 49, and María Concepción Marlaska Sedano, 43, were abducted last Friday (May 17) in La Guajira, a Colombian province bordering Venezuela.

COMMENT: Even though many observers attribute the kidnapping to rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which admittedly is responsible for the majority of abductions-for-money in Colombia, at this point there is no confirmation as to who the kidnappers actually are. 

The kidnappers could also simply be common criminals, taking advantage of opportunity. 

Marlaska Sedano is related to Spanish National Court Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska.

Generally speaking, the kidnapping of foreigners in Colombia often can bring in a ransom approaching six figures in dollars or euros, and in some cases, demands can approach seven figures.

Considering that the kidnapping of foreigners can occur almost anywhere in rural Colombia, most foreign tourists generally stay close to major cities and towns.

It is assumed in this case that the kidnap victims thought that they blended in well to the Colombian culture, although their Spanish accent would have been a dead giveaway that they were not Colombian. Hence, whoever kidnapped them had determined that they were high-value targets.

A factor that could easily complicate the rescue of the two Spaniards is if they were taken into Venezuela, in which case the Colombians would have to depend on Venezuelan cooperation, which is often unpredictable.