Three Colombian journalists and a Colombian driver, who were detained on Friday by Venezuelan authorities at the common border, allege that they were mistreated before being deported back to Colombia.
According to the Colombians, they entered Venezuela by canoe on the Arauca river and arrived in El Nula, a Venezuelan town that borders the east Colombian department of Aracua. Upon arrival in El Nula they began filming footage, which they claim they were authorized to do by a police commissioner, but were arrested several minutes later by Venezuelan authorities.
“In the beginning they we were mistreated by some officials, but thank god, those from military intelligence arrived and they respected our rights,” said Philip Moreno, news director of Capital Radio and Aracua RCN correspondent.
The Colombians say they were told that they had been detained for entering Venezuela “illegally” without a passport.
Moreno said that when they were transported to Caracas, they were forced to strip and their equipment was seized.
“The digital audio tape that we had recorded in El Nula was confiscated,” said cameraman Milton Uscátegui.
The Colombians were reportedly in Venezuela to do an investiagtive piece, following Colombia’s revelation of the locations of top FARC and ELN guerrilla commanders hiding-out in camps based in the neighboring country.
Colombia has made numerous accusations in the past that Venezuela harbors FARC guerrillas within its borders. The Venezuelan government has always vehemently denied the allegations and maintains Venezuela is not a guerrilla safe haven.
Venezuela broke diplomatic relations all together in 2009, after Colombia signed a pact that grants the U.S. military access to seven Colombian army bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez views the pact as an attempt to undermine regional sovereignty.