Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that the family-run ice cream shop, owned by eight Colombians detained by his nation on suspicion of espionage, is a front. The socialist leader said that the authorities had seized computers and satellite phones from the business’ premises in the Venezuelan state of Barinas.
“They were running around the country taking photos,” Chavez said, adding that some of the Colombians detained were carrying Colombian army identification.
I’m not accusing the Colombian army nor its government … because the identification could be false … but they [Colombia] will have to explain,” the socialist leader said.
Chavez said he will increase army patrols around electrical plants because “who knows how many of the blackouts have been caused [by sabotage].”
Venezuela is in the midst of an energy crisis because drought has reduced the water levels in hydroelectric plants which supply electricity to the country.
The Colombian family accused of espionage was arrested in Venezuela after Canadian-Colombian doctor Luis Carlos Cossio took a photo of Venezuelan military telecommunications tower.
According to Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami, Venezuelan officials found photos of other Venezuelan military telecommunications towers, roads, bridges and highways on Cossio’s camera.
Cossio’s family claims that the dual citizen is an avid photographer and is not a spy, though he worked for a time as a doctor in the Colombian army.