No ransom reported paid for liberation of Costa Rican diplomat

The Costa Rican foreign minister said that a diplomat kidnapped in Venezuela was freed without payment of any ransom.

The minister, Enrique Castillo, said that he talked by telephone with the victim, Guillermo Cholele, and reported that the man was in good health.

Cholele was grabbed as he approached his home in Caracas about 10 p.m. Sunday night.

He was liberated on a city street before 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

Castillo said that Cholele told him he had been driven to several places and threatened with death after his kidnappers learned that his wife had sought help from the police. Cholele, now reported to be 60, is a commercial attaché in the Costa Rican Embassy in the Venezuelan capital.

Castillo was full of praise for the response from the Venezuelan government. He said that the effort to find Cholele was a priority with officials there. Still he said that Costa Rica is asking for more security for the embassy and the diplomats in Caracas.
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 other diplomats have been kidnapped since 2010.

Police in Caracas triangulated a cell telephone call to Cholele’s home demanding ransom Monday, 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.

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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