A Venezuelan guerrilla group calling themselves the Bolivarian Armed Liberation Force is supposedly responsible for the kidnapping of a number of Colombian amateur football players, and is allegedly backed by the Venezuelan government.
A councilman of Ureña, Alejandro Garcia, said that the group is comprised of Venezuelan and Colombian subversives, reports newspaper El Espectador.
“They are [obviously] supported by the Venezuelan authorities because they are not arrested or attacked, and they move at ease and with full authority, terrorizing the population of the southern state of Tachira,” Garcia said.
There seems to be confusion regarding the exact number of kidnapped Colombians, with estimates ranging from ten to fifteen, and there is yet to be government confirmation of the details of the kidnapping. Miami’s El Nuevo Herald reported that the director of Colombia’s Anti-Kidnapping Police, Colonel Nicolas Muñoz, said that “so far we are trying to gather intelligence information from the judicial police and the Venezuelan authorities … but there [has been] no official communication.”
According to El Espectador, twelve members of an amateur football field, ten of whom are allegedly Colombian, were kidnapped at noon on Sunday from a makeshift football field in the town of El Chururu, south of Tachira. Apparently the kidnappers seized a list of players’ names from the referee and, after a threatening them with firearms, began to call names “at random”. The players were forced into a number of vehicles and were driven away. Their families did not report the event for fear of reprisals.
Caracol Radio reported that according to eyewitnesses, those that had no outstanding debts were released, without further details.
Venezuelan authorities have not yet referred to the alleged kidnappings. It is possible that the event is an operation of illegal groups forcibly recruiting new members.
So far the identities of two of the allegedly kidnapped Colombians have been released: Gerardo Vega Siza and Yorguin Julian Anaya Vega, who had been in Tachira for a year selling public transport products to Venezuela.
A number of organizations, including guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers, operate in the border area between Colombia and Venezuela, where there are numerous kidnappings and other crimes.