The Colombian Foreign Ministry announced Monday that it will officially complain to Venezuela about the detention and mistreatment of two Colombians by the Venezuelan army.
According to a ministry press release, a Colombian man, Adelis Pabon, and his son, Naiker Pabon, who has hearing and speaking impairments, were detained by members of the Venezuelan army while travelling in their boat on the Arauca river, on the Venezuelan side of the border, in the Apure state. The soldiers are identified as members of the Sucre Battalion.
The ministry alleges that Naiker Pabon, who is a minor, had difficulty responding to the soldiers due to his disabilities, and as a result was physically and verbally abused by them.
The Colombian Consulate in El Amaparo, Venezuela, inquired where the two detainees were, and Venezuelan authorities in the area allegedly denied knowing the Colombians’ whereabouts.
The Colombians claim that they were held for a time by the Venezuelan army, a claim that the Venezuelan army denies.
The press release alleges that the Venezuelan soldiers confiscated the motor from the Colombians’ boat.
Adelis Pabon said his son had head and neck pain where the Venezuelans hit him. Pabon said they were detained by Venezuelan authorities who wanted to know why they were on the Venezuelan side of the border.
The Colombian Consulate in El Amaparo will formally complain to Venezuelan authorities over the matter.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry says it will notify regional multilateral organizations about the Colombians’ detention and alleged mistreatment.
This is the latest in a series of accusations by Colombia, of Venezuelan mistreatment of Colombian citizens. Last week the Colombian government issued a statement advising its citizens against travel to Venezuela.
The press release was issued following Venezuela’s arrest of eight Colombians accused of espionage, whom President Alvaro Uribe has personally defended, saying that they were not spies but “tourists.” Uribe alleges that the Colombians were targeted because of their nationality.
Diplomatic ties between Colombia and Venezuela were severed in 2009, after Colombia signed a controversial pact with the U.S. which grants the Americans access to seven Colombian military bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that the pact is part of a scheme by the U.S. to undermine sovereignty in the region.
Colombia and Venezuela have intermittently clashed since Chavez took office more than a decade ago. Venezuela often complains about spillover from Colombia’s long guerrilla war, while Uribe’s government says Chavez has not done enough to stop FARC guerrillas from taking refuge over the Venezuelan border.
A former guerrilla alleged on Saturday that Chavez met with FARC leaders on Colombian territory in 1998.