Thursday, June 6, 2013

Colombia: Update--Kidnapped Spanish Tourists Reportedly Not in Hands of FARC

As a follow-up to my postings of May 22 and 23, concerning the kidnapping of two Spanish tourist in the Department of La Guajira (close to the Venezuelan-Colombian border),  it is a known fact that the abductors previously demanded a “significant sum in euros.” Angel Sánchez Fernández, 49, and María Concepción Marlaska Sedano, 43, were abducted on May 17 in La Guajira, a Colombian province near the Venezuelan border.

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. 

As of June 3, the FARC denied that they kidnapped the two Spanish tourists in La Guajira province. The FARC also said that it has banned its members from kidnapping people "for economic purposes" since February 2012. 
 
Marlaska Sedano, 43, and Fernández, 49, were kidnapped in La Guajira after renting a car to visit a tourist site. The remote area of La Guajira, which borders Venezuela, is a region where criminal groups and gangs operate in large numbers because of cross-border operations. 

The kidnappers could also simply be common criminals, taking advantage of opportunity, and blaming it on the FARC.

Conversely, the FARC has publicly stated that they do not have the two Spaniards. Such a statement could also be a ruse.  

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.

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 Spanish government would be forced to ask the Venezuelan government for help.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for kidnappers to purposely not contact family members for weeks or months in order to build tension on the part of families.