Colombia “arbitrarily” expels Venezuelan Embassy staff member

The Migratory Authority of Colombia confirmed the expulsion of Venezuelan citizen Carlos Pino García from Colombia on Wednesday December 19

December 21, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch

On Wednesday December 19, Venezuelan citizen Carlos Pino was deported from Colombia. Pino has lived in Colombia for the last 19 years and is married to Colombian politician and human rights defender Gloria Flórez, with whom he has a child. Though he worked with the Diplomatic Mission of Venezuela in Colombia, Pino does not have diplomatic immunity. The Venezuelan government has termed the decision as “arbitrary and illegal.”

The Colombian Migratory Authority justified his expulsion from the country under the Decree of the Foreign Ministry which states that the Colombian Migratory Authority can expel foreigners that according to them “carry out activities that threaten national security, public order, public health, social tranquility, public security, or when intelligence information exists that indicate that they represent a risk for national security etc”. They confirmed that Pino will not be allowed back in Colombia for the next ten years.

Jorge Arreaza, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, denounced the expulsion of Pino and stated that in response to the arbitrary and illegal kidnapping and expulsion of Carlos Pino from Colombia they are expelling Juan Carlos Pérez Villamizar, a Colombian citizen who works in the Colombian Consulate but does not have proper accreditation, which goes against international conventions that Colombia has signed.

Pino’s wife Gloria Flórez widely denounced his expulsion and rejected the accusations that her husband is a spy, stating that her husband has not committed any crimes while living in Colombia. In a press conference with activists and politicians Aida Avella and Iván Cepeda, Flórez also denounced the irregularities that took place during her husband’s expulsion from Colombia.

She explained that, in the afternoon on Wednesday, December 19, the police approached Carlos Pino who was parked outside his house, and asked to see his identification. On seeing that he is a migrant (from Venezuela) they called the Migratory Authority of Colombia who arrived with several cars almost immediately, which she pointed out is quite suspicious, and proceeded to take him away with no explanation. She said that when she identified herself and said she is a human rights defender and demanded to know the reason for his detention, they threatened to call the police because she was “obstructing justice”.

The event puts greater doubts and worries around the tense relationship between the Colombian and Venezuelan governments. Colombian President Iván Duque has had an aggressive attitude towards Venezuela since he assumed the presidency and due to the recent denouncement by Nicolás Maduro that Duque is collaborating with the US on a plan for a military coup in January, things are seemingly taking a turn for the worse.