The former state representative who “disappeared” in northern Colombia Thursday was found in a hotel in Venezuela Sunday, according to reports by national media.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon confirmed the reappearance of Juan Carlos Santamaria, a former legislator in the northeastern state of Aruaca and active member of the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party, who is apparently alive and well, reported Blu Radio.
Santamaria had been reported missing from Aruaca on Thursday.
“The Gaula national police established that the former deputy was staying at a hotel in San Cristobal in the state of Tachira, Venezuela. The authorities of the country in coordination with the Colombian authorities located and subsequently deported him, undocumented, across the border,” said the minister.
Santamaria is currently being held by Colombian authorities in the border city of Cucuta to clarify what happened, reported Caracol Radio.
The Democratic Center party joined the campaign of presidential nominee Oscar Ivan Zuluaga in denouncing Santamaria’s initial disappearance as a kidnapping carried out by the FARC rebel group, Colombia’s largest. The FARC are engaged in ongoing peace negotiations with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, which Zuluaga, Santos’ opponent in Sunday’s run-off elections, and the party have sharply criticized.
There had even been prior suggestions that Santamaria’s alleged kidnapping was politically motivated, after he was called a “street urchin” by Santos running mate German Vargas Lleras at a campaign event.
The circumstances surrounding Santamaria’s trip to Venezuela had always been hazy, as the alleged victim apparently had the time to call close contacts and alert them that he was being kidnapped.Initial investigations could not determine whether any violence had occurred.
Thus far neither the Democratic Center nor Zuluaga campaign have commented on his reappearance.