The Colombian air force on Wednesday successfully repatriated 32 Colombian fisherman who were detained by Nicaragua two weeks ago.
A Colombian air force Casa C295 plane touched down briefly at the airport in the Nicarguan coastal city of Bluefields to collect the Colombians.
The fishermen were detained by the Nicaraguan navy on April 22 and 23 in disputed waters. The Central American nation claims the men were in Nicaraguan waters, while Honduras says that one of the three boats was in Hondurean waters.
Colombian authorities claim that the fishing boat, the “Laura Anny,” was detained while in Colombian waters.
An engineer aboard the “Laura Anny,” Ulises Serrano, told his family last week that the incident amounted to “kidnapping,” arguing that his boat was in Colombian waters when it was stopped. Other detainees complained of poor treatment by Nicaraguan authorities.
Until the boat is returned to Colombia, authorities will not be able to determine exactly where it was when the Nicaraguan navy detained it.
The Colombian government protested the detention of the boat, claiming it was “illegal,” and “a flagrant violation of the norms and principles of international law.”
There is a long-running dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua over maritime rights. Nicaragua announcedin April 2008 that it would detain any Colombian fishing boats that entered the disputed area in the Caribbean.
Relations between the nations became frosty after the Nicaraguan government gave asylum to three guerrillas from the FARC and a Mexican female student, the only survivors of the Colombian military’s attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1, 2008.