Kidnapped Tico diplomat liberated in Caracas

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo Aura Mahuampi, the Venezuelan ambassador in Costa Rica, discusses the abduction with Carlos Roverssi, vice chancellor, and Mauricio Boraschi, the nation's security adviser.

Costa Rica’s foreign ministry confirmed Tuesday morning that Guillermo Cholele, a diplomat at the nation’s embassy in Caracas, had been liberated.

Cholele appeared to have been hit on the head but was otherwise in good condition, said sources in Venezuela. More information was expected there later today.

The news came from Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s foreign minister, who posted the information on Twitter shortly after 4 a.m. He was being questioned by police but had been in contact with his family there and Costa Rica’s ambassador, Nazareth Avendaño, said the foreign ministry here.

Cholele, 59, Argentine by birth, is a naturalized Costa Rican citizen and has worked in diplomatic positions since 2004, said the ministry. He is a commercial attaché.

Cholele was confronted by a carload of men when he returned to his home in Urbanización Urbina in Caracas about 10 p.m. Sunday. They not only abducted him, but they took his car, too.

Caracas has a soaring crime rate, and might be the most dangerous capital in the world. Abductions for ransom are epidemic, and at least 11 diplomats have been kidnapped since 2010. There was no word is any ransom had been paid for Cholele.

Police in Caracas triangulated a cell telephone call to Cholele’s home demanding ransom, and then they invaded two downtown towers that have been taken over by squatters since 2007. More than 100 police officers were in the raid, but they did not appear to find the diplomat. News reports incorrectly reported that they did for a time, raising the hopes of Cholele’s children and ex-wife here.

Shortly after noon Monday Costa Rica’s foreign ministry summoned the Venezuelan ambassador here, Aura Mahuampi, to a meeting. Carlos Roverssi, vice minister, and Mauricio Boraschi, the presidential security expert, issued a demand for guarantees of Cholele’s safety. The ministry said that officials were worried by the abducted man’s health because he suffers from heart problems and hypertension and needs medicine.

Kidnappers grabbed and held Mexico’s ambassador to Caracas in January. In November kidnappers held and then released a U.S. Major League Baseball player.

The crime rate may be a factor in the Oct. 7 presidential election. President Hugo Chávez recently set up a new police force to deal with organized crime.

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