The Candelaria hostel association on Thursday admitted to robberies in the Bogota district as well as the alleged April 13 sexual assault of an American tourist, an event that Metropolitan Police initially denied took place.
A press release from the Association of Housing of the Historic Center of the Candelaria states that on April 13, “four to five armed men entered a hostel intimidating and holding hostage guests and employees while stealing their belongings including passports, credit cards, laptops, cameras, money, etc. compounded by the fact that this time an American tourist was the victim of sexual assault under the threat of a firearm,” corroborating the victim’s testimony that was reported by Colombia Reports on Tuesday.
A public relations official for the Bogota Metropolitan Police, Carlos Arenas, initially denied that the sexual abuse had taken place. After being presented the victim’s testimony that has been corroborated by witnesses, the policeman said that no charges of sexual assault have been filed by the victim.
According to the victim and her friend, who was present and corroborated the victim’s story, after the incident police drove them to Bogota’s international airport without filing an official report on the robbery and the alleged sexual assault.
Arenas said the Metropolitan Police are investigating the April 13 robbery and that two suspects have been captured.
The police official also said that following the attack police have been in contact with the hostel association to discuss security measures for the tourist district.
Hostel association president German Escobar and member Oscar Payan told this website that the police have not been in contact with the hostel association since the April 13 robbery. Payan and Colonel Mariano Botero of the Bogota Metropolitan Police did speak on W Radio Wednesday morning.
As part of their statement the Candelaria Hostel Association admitted to security problems in the tourist district over the past eight months and said that they have made numerous attempts to contact local government and police to explain the situation and ask for help. According to the association, the authorities have so far not made an “effective response” to the situation.
Colombia Reports confirmed a letter sent to the Candelaria police commander and local government officials on January 14, 2011 from the hostel association describing the “grave problem” in the Candelaria and suggesting four measures authorities could take to improve security in the district including installing security cameras on the streets.
Hostel owners say they have asked local government for help in protecting the zone in the city heavily trafficked by tourists, but the response from the local mayor of Candelaria, Xinia Rocio Navarro Prada, has been “zero.”
The association of hotels and hostels in the district will meet to discuss plans to communicate with authorities to provide strategies and alternatives to address the issues affecting the most touristic sector and the largest generator of direct and indirect jobs in the locality.
According to several hostel owners, their guests have been victim to armed attacks inside the hostels on at least seven occasions in the past eight months.