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Kidnapped Costa Rican diplomat in Venezuela freed

April 10, 2012

A Costa Rican diplomat kidnapped in Venezuela on Sunday night was liberated, the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday morning.

Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Roverssi said during an interview on Radio ADN 90.7 that Costa Rican attaché Guillermo Cholele had been freed. Venezuela’s interior minister, Tareck El Aissami, confirmed that Cholele had been rescued and is in “good physical condition.”

“Costa Rican diplomat freed. In good physical condition and health. Under police protection and about to be reunited with relatives,” El Aissami posted on his Twitter account.

Roverssi said he was informed of the news at 4 a.m. He added that no ransom was paid, and that Cholele was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Officials said armed assailants intercepted Cholele’s vehicle in eastern Caracas late Sunday and forced him into a van, in the latest in a string of high-profile kidnappings.

El Aissami in a separate tweet praised the police for quickly solving the kidnapping, and said details about the case would be forthcoming at a press conference later Tuesday.

The abduction was a major embarrassment for Venezuela, which has seen a rash of abductions, including several of officials from the diplomatic world. The kidnapping occurs three months after Mexico’s ambassador to Venezuela and his wife were kidnapped in the Venezuelan capital. The couple was freed unharmed less than than 24 hours later.

Kidnappings and crime in general have remained on the rise in Venezuela in recent years. Between July 2008 and July 2010, 23 kidnappings per day were reported, according to the National Institute of Statistics. In 2009, there were 16,917 kidnappings in Venezuela, although estimates by some nongovernmental organizations are higher.

Bolivia’s military attaché also was briefly kidnapped, as was the son of the Vietnamese ambassador. Chile’s consul general was shot and beaten in November, the victim of a two-hour-long “express kidnapping.” And in one of the most high-profile abductions, kidnappers late last year seized U.S. professional baseball player Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals, who ultimately was rescued by security forces.

Kidnappings in Venezuela are a lucrative business and more often than not go unpunished. They are usually resolved after relatives pay a ransom to captors.

Officials in Costa Rica said in a statement that news of Cholele’s release had brought “great relief” to his relatives, as well as to the Foreign Ministry in San José.

Roverssi asked the Venezuelan government to take more preventative measures to protect diplomats in the country.

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