Saturday, December 27, 2014

Bogotá Does Caracas's Bidding?

Murdered Venezuelan Deputy
Robert Serra. 
Ambassadors are supposed to defend the rights and dignity of their country and its citizens. And, presumably, they should defend values such as presuming the innocence of their nations' citizens.

So, why is Luis Eladio Pérez, Colombia's ambassador in Caracas, going to resign Dec. 31?

The answer stems from the Oct. 1 murders of Venezuelan parliamentarian Robert Serra and his female assistant, mysteriously killed in Serra's house on the night of Oct. 1.

In today's intensely politicized and polarized Venezuela, the murder of a pro-government member of the National Assembly could not be chalked up to robbery or, perhaps, a love triangle. No: It had to be a political conspiracy, and behind it that arch-enemy of the Venezuelan 'revolution': Colombia's political right.

With Venezuela's economic train wreck only getting worse, its government wants desperately to put the blame elsewhere - and Colombia is a convenient target. Perhaps for the same reason, dozens of Colombians have been arrested in Venezuela for seemingly trivial or apparently trumped-up charges including contraband for buying subsidized products for home use.

Shortly after the double murder, Venezuelan Pres. Nicolas Maduro accused Colombian conservative ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe, allegedly working with Colombian paramilitaries and protected by the United States government. Maduro didn't offer evidence for this vast international conspiracy.
Accused murderer Leiva Padilla Mendoza.

Since then, Venezuelan authorities have arrested at least ten people for the murders. But in Venezuela, where the police and court system seem to be political instruments, it's hard to judge why they were rounded up.

Maduro also accused a man named Leiva Padilla Mendoza, conveniently nicknamed 'El Colombia', of commanding the band that committed the murder. Padilla was arrested Nov. 2 in Colombia. He denies participating in the killings and says that he is Venezuelan and supports the Venezuelan government.

For his part, Ambassador Pérez said that Mendoza was a Venezuelan citizen born in Venezuela of Colombian parents. And Pérez questioned whether there was evidence of a link between Colombian paramilitaries and the murders.

Those seemingly reasonable comments were enough to rile up top Venezuelan officials. National Assembly Pres. Diosdado Cabello accused Pérez of meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs and 'disrespecting' Venezuela.

The result? Ambassador Pérez resigns, altho it's clear he was pushed. He will be replaced by Colombia's current ambassador to Ecuador, who presumably is used to watching what he says around authoritarian leftist governments.

Ambassadors are supposed to defend the interests of their nations and citizens, which is exactly what Pérez appears to have done. But Pérez's openness to truth rather than ideology made Venezuelan officials uncomfortable, prompting the Colombian government to ask him to resign.

It's a sad day when Colombia yanks a man who was doing his job right in order to truckle before authoritarian Venezuela's twisted version of reality.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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