Foreign Policy Blogs

Who Dunnit Along the Venezuelan-Colombian Border

The kidnapping and murder of at least nine Colombians along Venezuela’s border region during late October once again increased tensions between the two countries, which are already on shaky diplomatic terms. An article within El Universal gives a nice overview of recent political exchanges between Caracas and Bogotá.

The Venezuelan vice president, Ramón Carrizález, declared that the Colombians killed along the border area were paramilitaries, and went so far as to say that this incursion was part of a “systematic attack” by Colombia and the US. In addition, Caracas accused Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security (DAS) of sending agents into its territory, and detained two accused spies in early October.

The majority of writing on these events focuses on the identification of the murdered Colombians. Who, however, were the perpetrators of the killings? If the Venezuelan government has evidence on the victims, it would also seem appropriate to clarify who carried out the kidnappings. Did Caracas somehow know of the kidnappers ahead of time? If not, what does this say about the capacity of the local authorities? Either way, this serves as another sad chapter in an increasingly dangerous country. Venezuela has seen a dramatic rise in murders and kidnapping over recent years.

On a lighter note, if the Colombians were indeed paramilitaries, it seems fitting, given South America’s passion for soccer, that they were located at a match. Whereas in the United States one might imagine a police raid on some decrepit warehouse or dimly lit back-office, where do people of all backgrounds congregate in Latin America? At the local soccer field.

Further reporting on border events can be found at BBC and BBC Mundo.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.