San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican diplomat kidnapped in Venezuela

A Costa Rican diplomat was kidnapped Sunday night in Venezuela, the Foreign Ministry confirmed. The kidnappers are asking for a large ransom in exchange for Guillermo Cholele, who was taken by strangers while walking toward his car.

Costa Rican Ambassador to Venezuela Nazareth Avendaño, in Caracas, said the embassy received a phone call about the kidnapping and the ransom amount, and that the kidnappers ensured that Cholele remains in good health.

Avendaño said via the press release that there would be no other comments on the incident at this time, and authorities in Caracas and San José are taking the situation “very seriously and have begun speaking with security authorities and leaders” in Venezuela about coordinating the safe return of Cholele.

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.

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