Colombia’s consul in Caracas said Sunday that Venezuelan authorities
briefly detained a few dozen Colombians as they waited to get
identification cards that are regularly distributed by the consulate.
The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Colombia and
Venezuela over Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s decision to seek
closer ties with the United States.
Officials from the
Venezuela’s Justice Ministry, which oversees the city’s police forces,
could not be reached for comment about the detentions. Calls to the
ministry’s press attache went unanswered.
Consul Maria Elvira
Cabello told the Globovision television channel that between 20 and 30
Colombians, including an official from Colombia’s diplomatic mission,
were held at a police station for several hours before being released.
Police also took computers belonging to the consulate and passports
from some of those detained, she said.
Cabello said police told
her the consulate should have requested permission to distribute the ID
cards, but she said the mission had notified authorities. Similar
initiatives have been organized in the past without incident, she said.
“This took us by surprise because it’s a frequent endeavor that we undertake every month,” Cabello said.
Relations between the South American neighbors have been up and down for several years, and now in another dip.
government is working on an agreement with Washington that would give
the U.S. military access to seven Colombian bases for 10 years.
socialist president, Hugo Chavez, calls the pending accord a threat to
the his country and the broader region, and he is urging fellow Latin
American leaders to pressure Uribe and U.S. President Barack Obama to
abandon the plan.
Colombia denies the deal poses a threat to
other countries, saying the U.S. troops will be helping in the fight
against cocaine gangs and leftist rebels. U.S. officials say the number
of U.S. personnel in Colombia will not surpass the current limit of
1,400 by the U.S. Congress. (AP)