Some 65 Colombian nationals were deported from Venezuela on Monday, claiming mistreatment at the hands of Venezuelan authorities, reported Colombian media sources.
The group has appealed to the Colombian Foreign Ministry, claiming to have been held in cells, separated from their families, and then forcibly removed from the country, against the terms of their tourist visas, according to Caracol Radio.
Personal items, such as mobile phones, were reportedly taken and “lost” during the deportation process.
One of those affected told Caracol Radio, “we are here in Cucuta, [a city on the Colombian side of the Venezuelan border] without clothing, food and waiting for the ministry to provide us with some guidance.”
Colombia Reports was unable to reach any spokesmen from the Colombian Foreign Ministry for comment, but the unannounced and apparently unjustified deportations could have to do with ongoing anti-government protests that have gripped the major urban centers in Venezuela since last Wednesday. Venezuela has closed international and national media outlets in the wake of violent confrontations between government forces and protesters, and shutdown Twitter, a medium many inside Venezuela were using to share news about the protests.
The deported Colombian nationals were taken both from cities near the Colombian-Venezuela border, such as San Cristobal, and from locations further inside the country, like the capital of Caracas.
Family members of some of the deportees are reportedly still in Venezuela with no means of contact.
Details are still unclear in terms of what, if anything, the Colombians did to draw attention from Venezuelan authorities, or how exactly the visitors were rounded up.
The deportees are reportedly being held in Cucuta, a city on the Colombian side of the Venezuela, and a popular crossing point for goods and travelers.
- 65 colombianos fueron deportados de Venezuela (Caracol Radio)
- Colombianos deportados de Venezuela denuncian abusos (El Espectador)