Murder of young Venezuelan immigrants rekindles tension between Colombia and Venezuela

Caracas has promised to take the case to the UN and claims that it is part of larger “politics of hatred and persecution by high authorities”

October 15, 2021 by Michele de Mello
Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab made a public statement on the case. Photo: Attorney General's Office Venezuela

New cases of violence have increased tensions between Colombia and Venezuela days after the reopening of the land border between the two countries, closed since 2019. Last weekend, two young Venezuelans were murdered in the border municipality of Tibú, in the North Santander department of Colombia.

The two youths, aged 12 and 15, were accused of stealing products from a store in the town, and were subsequently detained by civilians and publicly lynched. Videos posted on social networks show the two Venezuelans with their hands tied, being insulted as “thieves”.

In the same video a Colombian man can be heard saying that he would hand the two over to the police so that “they wouldn’t turn up dead in the street.”

The authors of the video said in a different recording circulating on social networks that they called the police more than once, but they never showed up at the scene. Without the presence of the authorities, the teenagers were taken by two armed men on a motorcycle and murdered with shots to the head, on a road that connects Tibú to the Colombian municipality of El Tarra.

The Venezuelan Public Ministry demanded that the Colombian authorities investigate the case and guarantee protection for Venezuelan immigrants.

According to the Colombian NGO Organization for Human Rights and the Homeless (Codhes), between January and August 2021, 362 Venezuelans were murdered in Colombia. Already in the last five years the total figure is 1,933 Venezuelans killed on Colombian territory – most cases remain unsolved.

The most violent states are Norte de Santander, Valle del Cauca, Atlántico and Antioquia, according to the NGO. The municipality of Tibú concentrates about 13% of Colombia’s coca farms, estimated at 245,000 hectares in 2020.

“The homicide rate of the Venezuelan population is 2.8 times greater than the rest of the Colombian population,” Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab said.

The Colombian Attorney General’s Office has stated that it will investigate the case. Colombian President Iván Duque accused FARC dissidents of being responsible for the crime, without providing proof, and ordered the change of command of the state police of Norte de Santander.

Venezuela announced that it will take the case to the United Nations (UN) and will also file a complaint against Duque at the International Criminal Court for persecution and extermination of migrants. The vice-president, Delcy Rodríguez, said that Venezuelan migrants are “victims of the politics of hate and persecution of high authorities.”

UN Security Council

In addition to the recent case of murder of the two Venezuelan teenagers, Venezuela had already filed another complaint against the Colombian state at the UN.

Venezuelan Ambassador Samuel Moncada sent a letter on October 8 to the president of the UN Security Council denouncing an alleged military destabilization plan prepared by Colombia and the United States. In the document, Moncada offers a timeline with a series of attacks and coup attempts in Venezuela, which had a direct relationship with Colombian characters.

It also states that there was an unauthorized incursion of Colombian aircraft in September of this year and another 90 incursions of US aircrafts into Venezuelan airspace between 2019 and 2021.

First published in Brasil de Fato.