The kidnapping of a congressional candidate of the MIRA party on Wednesday is a clear sign that smaller parties participating in Colombia’s elections are not granted the same electoral rights as their mainstream counterparts, MIRA’s campaign manager said Thursday.
The disappearance of Botello — and the subsequent phone call by unknown kidnappers demanding the withdrawal of MIRA’s congressional representative Gloria Stella Diaz — is a clear case of a politically motivated kidnapping and the government should do everything in its power to find him, campaign manager Samir Bedoya told Colombia Reports.
According to Bedoya, the local authorities are now handling the case as a kidnapping, “but the national government is still treating it as a ‘disappearance’ and I don’t understand that,” he said.
“This is a political move because it is not convenient for (Colombian) President Santos to have a candidate kidnapped in the middle of a peace-process,” Mr Bedoya said, referring to the current peace talks in Cuba between the government and the FARC rebel group.
Bedoya, who received the phone call by the kidnappers, said that the 48 hours given to them to remove Diaz as a candidate is the time given to the Colombian national government to assure the safe return of Botello.
“We are not responsible for his life. The responsibility falls on the national government, and it is frustrating that a political movement like ours with Congressional representatives can’t have the same guarantees that is afforded to others (politicians),” he said, adding that during their campaign they have received no support from local or national authorities regarding recent death threats made against candidates.
Although the local authorities in the state of Norte De Santander intensified their search and have asked for the cooperation of the public — as well as the Venezuelan security forces — authorities claim that questions still surround the case, local media reported.
The National Protection Unit (UNP) director, Andres Villamizar, posted on his twitter feed that “for reasons as yet unknown, the candidate went out without his bodyguard” referring to the information divulged by MIRA that Botello had asked his bodyguard — assigned by the UNP — to take a rest for the night.
Villamizar traveled to Norte de Santander on Thursday to meet with local lawmakers.
— Andres Villamizar (@villamizar) February 14, 2014
In the past few weeks a number of Colombian political parties participating in the country’s upcoming elections, as well as election observers, have expressed their concern for the safety of candidates and the lack of electoral guarantees afforded to them by the national government.
- Interview with Samir Bedoya (National Campaing Manager for Mira)
- Intensifican búsqueda de candidato de Mira desaparecido (El Tiempo)
- ¿Secuestrado un candidato del MIRA? (Semana)